Ford hits the sweet spot with au­toshift

Au­to­box in the 2.2 en­gine takes the Ranger range to 36 mod­els

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

IF Ford still made the Ban­tam, the oval badge would have been able to boast the widest bakkie range in South Africa. As things stand, Ford can lay claim to the widest range of big bakkies, thanks to adding an au­to­box to the 2.2 en­gine, adding nine mod­els to now sell a be­wil­der­ing range of three dozen Rangers.

Now, be­fore you think only city slick­ers drive bakkies with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, con­sider that all mod­ern su­per link trucks now have auto shifters. And if it is the most ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient so­lu­tion for heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, it will also work for light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles — what we call bakkies.

Wheels re­ally rates the 2.2 en­gine as the sweet spot in the 36-bakkie line-up, and the au­toshifter will save wear and tear on both the drivetrain and the driver’s left knee.

Tracey Delate, gen­eral mar­ket­ing man­ager for Ford sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa Re­gion, said the six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion on the 2.2 Du­ra­torq TDCi mod­els is the first in a sin­gle cab bakkie in SA and of­fers un­ri­valled driv­ing con­ve­nience in the eco­nom­i­cal 2.2 TDCi mod­els.

The Ranger 2.2 TDCi Auto mod­els are avail­able across all three body styles, in­clud­ing Sin­gle Cab, Su­per Cab and Dou­ble Cab. Cus­tomers can also se­lect be­tween three dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tion lev­els: XL, mid-range XLS and high-spec XLT.

The rea­son why Ford’s lat­est-gen­er­a­tion 2,2-litre, four-cylin­der Du­ra­torq TDCi en­gine hits our sweet spot, is its good fuel econ­omy backed by more than enough power — 118 kW and 385 Nm. This al­lows you to over­take, carry a ton and tow 3,5 tons of braked-trailer weight, or climb rocks and dunes.

Driv­ers have the op­tion of al­low­ing the gear­box to do the shift­ing on its own in fully Au­to­matic mode, switch­ing to Sport mode for im­proved re­spon­sive­ness and down­shifts, or se­lect­ing man­ual gearshifts for ul­ti­mate con­trol.

Of the new 2.2 TDCi Auto mod­els, five are two-wheel drive and four are equipped with Ford’s in­tel­li­gent four­wheel drive sys­tem with Torque on De­mand that al­lows driv­ers to tackle even the most ex­treme con­di­tions

TRACEY DELATE,

with con­fi­dence. The 4x4 drivetrain em­ploys an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled trans­fer case with shift-on-the-fly func­tion­al­ity con­trolled via a dial on the cen­tre con­sole. This al­lows 4x2 and 4x4 high-range modes to be en­gaged while on the move.

Se­lect­ing 4L en­gages low-range gear­ing, giv­ing the new Ranger ex­cep­tional torque and con­trol for de­mand­ing off-road ter­rain. A rear dif­fer­en­tial lock is also pro­vided, en­sur­ing ad­di­tional trac­tion.

The Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gram, which is stan­dard on all but the en­try-level Base mod­els, de­liv­ers a high level of ac­tive driv­ing safety. The sys­tem in­cor­po­rates Trac­tion Con­trol, Hill Launch As­sist, Trailer Sway Con­trol, Adap­tive Load Con­trol, Roll-over Mit­i­ga­tion, as well as Hill De­scent Con­trol on the 4x4 mod­els.

The au­to­box still re­quire ser­vice in­ter­vals of 20 000 km, but driv­ers who use their bakkies in dusty, hot and slow routes — city traf­fic jams in­cluded — are well ad­vised to look af­ter their oil more of­ten than this.

A five-year or 100 000 km ser­vice plan is in­cluded in the pur­chase price on XL, XLS XLT and Wild­trak mod­els, but is op­tional on the en­try level of­fer­ings to al­low fleet buy­ers to get the most bang for their bud­get. All mod­els are also sold with a fouryear/120 000 km com­pre­hen­sive war­ranty, three-year/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres road­side as­sis­tance and fiveyear/un­lim­ited cor­ro­sion war­ranty.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

With 36 Rangers to choose from, Wheels deems the 2,2 au­to­matic sin­gle cab at some R312k the most bang for the fleet buy­ers’ bud­gets.

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