Photo fin­ish

AF­TER KNOCK­ING OFF THE HILUX LAST YEAR, THE RANGER HAS BEEN PIPPED AT THE POST AT 2018’S HALFWAY POINT.

4 x 4 Australia - - Report Card -

FORD HAS sold 19,216 Ranger 4x4s in the first sixth months of 2018, a 3.5 per cent in­crease over the same pe­riod in 2017. Un­for­tu­nately for Ford, that num­ber puts Ranger just 21 units short of Hilux and, for the time be­ing, has si­lenced Ranger’s claim of be­ing Aus­tralia’s topselling 4x4.

How­ever, help is on the way in the form of a new Ranger, which will of­fer a more pow­er­ful 157kw/500nm (but very much smaller) 2.0-litre four-cylin­der bi-turbo diesel as an op­tion to the cur­rent 3.2litre five-cylin­der in best-sell­ing XLT and Wild­trak mod­els. The new Ranger will also bring a host of other sus­pen­sion, NVH and equip­ment up­grades.

There’s also a new ‘hero’ model to help bol­ster the line-up in the form of the Ranger Rap­tor, which will be pow­ered by the new 2.0-litre bi-turbo en­gine and come with a be­spoke high-per­for­mance sus­pen­sion. The new bi-turbo en­gine, which brings a sur­pris­ingly mod­est pre­mium of just $1200 over the 3.2, will only be avail­able with a 10-speed au­to­matic.

The Ranger’s pop­u­lar­ity is, in some part, based on its big­gest-in-class en­gine, so how this rel­a­tively small-ca­pac­ity en­gine will be ac­cepted is yet to be seen; it’s no doubt the rea­son why Ford will keep the 3.2 in the range to cover its bets. The 2.0-litre won’t be of­fered with a man­ual, which is an­other rea­son why the 3.2 will be kept for the time be­ing.

The Ranger’s suc­cess is also built on a big and spa­cious cabin, ex­cel­lent on-road driv­ing dy­nam­ics and classlead­ing tow­ing and load-car­ry­ing abil­ity. In­ter­est­ingly, the Ranger’s 3500kg max­i­mum tow ca­pac­ity is undi­min­ished with the 2.0-litre en­gine, ex­cept with the Rap­tor where it drops to 2500kg.

Hope­fully the new en­gine won’t af­fect the Ranger’s off-road abil­ity, which is cur­rently as good as it gets in its class. One prom­ise the new 2.0-litre en­gine brings is bet­ter fuel econ­omy, which was al­ways a no­table neg­a­tive with the 3.2.

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