NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story By Ross MacKay Pho­tos cour­tesy Ford

Ford has cer­tainly built up a full head of steam with its Ranger ute line. And after sam­pling the new MY 19 model line-up in Aus­tralia in Septem­ber NZ4WD ed­i­tor Ross MacKay reck­ons an­other record sales year is on the way.

Right. I know. All you re­ally want to know about the new MY ( short for Model Year btw) 19 Ford Ranger line-up is this, right? What’s the new twin-turbo two-litre en­gine ( stan­dard in the new Rap­tor but op­tional here for an ex­tra $ 1K on the Wild­trak) re­ally like? The an­swer is ‘re­ally, re­ally good’ and I hon­estly can’t fathom the ‘ no sub­sti­tute for cu­bic inches’ griz­zling go­ing on across the Tas­man at the mo­ment as Ford ac­cepts the in­evitable and looks to a fu­ture be­yond the in-line five­cylin­der 3.2 litre TD power plant which has proved so pop­u­lar to date. With both Volk­swa­gen and Mercedes-Benz mak­ing much of their own large ca­pac­ity V6 TD en­gines I can see why Ford it­self might be con­cerned. I can also see the ar­rival of the two V6 en­gines into the mar­ket­ing mix as rich pick­ings for all the key­board war­riors and wa­ter cooler/car park lip flap­pers out there. But, sorry guys, I am the one who has ac­tu­ally driven a Wild­trak pow­ered by the new en­gine, and a Wild­trak pow­ered by the old ‘un. On the road and off it, and for a good cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres, not just round the block in a dealer demo. And I can tell you that, mated to Ford’s sim­i­larly all-new 10-speed auto the twin-turbo two-litre four is eas­ily a match for the 3.2 litre five and its sixspeed auto.

Cool char­ac­ter

I’ve al­ways thought of the ex­ist­ing, sin­gle-turbo 3.2litre five cylin­der en­gine as pro­vid­ing much of the dis­tinc­tive ‘char­ac­ter’ that has helped Ranger to be be­come the sales phe­nom­e­non it has. The new twin-turbo four cylin­der has proved me wrong. The char­ac­ter is still there, the en­gine is just qui­eter, smoother and more eco­nom­i­cal! So, there. Got that off my chest. Now a bit about the MY19 range, and the launch it­self. Key to the new three model ( XL, XLT and Wild­trak) line-up here is the ‘ fine tooth comb’ up­grade made to the chas­sis and run­ning gear, plus the ad­di­tion of even more ac­tive safety sys­tems ( and their as­so­ci­ated acronyms). In­cluded is In­ter-Ur­ban Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing ( AEB) with Ve­hi­cle De­tec­tion and Pedes­trian De­tec­tion plus Semi-Auto Ac­tive Park As­sist ( which, at the push of a but­ton, lets the ve­hi­cle take over and do your par­al­lel park­ing for you), now stan­dard on Ranger Wild­trak. As out­lined in our news story on the 2019 Kiwi line-up last month, most of the changes – like up­graded front ( new an­tiroll set-up) sus­pen­sion and new spring and damper rates front and rear – are un­der the skin. That said all three lines get sub­tly up­graded new grilles, nose cones and bumpers, Lift As­sist on all ( Well­side) mod­els with tail­gates, plus key­less en­try and a push but­ton starter/ fob key up­grade. The sus­pen­sion up­grades have been made to re­duce and bet­ter con­trol roll, with an em­pha­sis on im­prov­ing the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence when fully-laden and tow­ing, and have been en­gi­neered to work with all the many and var­ied driveline elec­tronic pack­ages which in­clude Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol Sys­tem ( DSC) in­cor­po­rat­ing Trailer Sway Con­trol ( TSC), Hill Start As­sist ( HSA), Hill De­scent Con­trol ( HDC) on 4x4 XL, Load Adap­tive Con­trol ( LAC) and Roll Over Mit­i­ga­tion ( ROM)

2019 Ford Ranger XLT Se­ries

As well as the sub­tlest of front end styling up­grades, the XLT also gets ( and not be­fore time as many own­ers of ex­ist­ing Rangers here will no doubt agree) new HID head­lamps and LED day­timerun­ning lights and park­ing sen­sors front and rear, as well as chrome ex­te­rior trim and win­dow tints ( which Ford calls ‘pri­vacy glass’). In­side, there is a new-look in­te­rior with SYNC 3 8.0inch full-colour touch­screen in­cor­po­rat­ing Satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with MapCare, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto smart­phone com­pat­i­bil­ity and DAB au­dio in­side. While the base model XL re­tains a 2.2 litre four cylin­der ( with auto) en­gine op­tion the XLT line will only be avail­able with the five-cylin­der 3.2 and six-speed auto trans­mis­sion.

2019 Ford Ranger Wild­trak Se­ries

Buy­ers here will, how­ever, have the op­tion of spec­c­ing MY 19 Wild­trak with ei­ther the ex­ist­ing 147kW/ 470Nm 3.2 litre five-cylin­der/ sixspeed auto combo or ( for an ex­tra grand) the all-new bi-turbo 157kW/ 500Nm 10-speed auto out of the range-top­ping Rap­tor. As well as stan­dard In­terUr­ban Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing ( AEB) with Ve­hi­cle De­tec­tion and Pedes­trian De­tec­tion, not to men­tion, Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol with For­ward Col­li­sion Alert, MY 19 Wild­trak also takes the

sweat and tears out of park­ing thanks to stan­dard Ac­tive Park As­sist. The driver needs only to ap­ply the throt­tle and brakes, as – at the push of a but­ton – the sys­tem par­al­lel parks the WIld­trak for you I know this for a fact be­cause one of the first things we were asked if we wanted to do at the MY 19 model launch at the Liv­ing Le­gends venue near Mel­bourne’s main Tul­la­ma­rine Air­port was hop be­hind the wheel of a Wild­trak and give it a whirl. Or rather, let the elec­tron­ics do it as, once you have pushed the but­ton down by the gear lever you can lit­er­ally take your hand off the steer­ing wheel and let the sys­tem do the twirling for you.

What’s it like?

To which all I can say is yes it works but I’m not sure you would use it ev­ery time you wanted to par­al­lel park. From the de­light­fully name Liv­ing Le­gends ( so-called be­cause it is a home for re­tired race­horses!!) we split into pairs for the road part of the launch drive, an easy jaunt on what could eas­ily pass for typ­i­cal Kiwi chip-seal, to lunch ( in a con­verted con­vent no less) in Dayles­ford, a pic­ture post­card coun­try Vic­to­ria town just down the road from Bendigo. First im­pres­sions on the road were mixed. While the ride, two-up, seemed to err on the firmer ( read jig­glier) side at or­di­nary road speeds the damp­ing once the pace was cranked up, didn’t give up the ghost quite so quickly as it has with pre­vi­ous Rangers of my di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence. Which is a good thing. On the way back to Mel­bourne, on a cool, wet spring day what did im­press the hell out of me was the 2.0 litre en­gine and 10-speed auto tran­nie. With 30kWs more torque than the sin­gle­turbo 3.2 litre five-cylin­der, an al­most com­plete lack of midrange vi­bra­tion, plus a quickchang­ing 10-speed auto with a seem­ingly in­tu­itive ‘ feel’ for be­ing in the right gear at the right time, it cer­tainly made a fan-boy out of me. If any­thing my ini­tial feel­ings about just how good the new en­gine is, were only con­firmed when we got to the fi­nal venue on our whistlestop ‘ Tour de Vic­to­ria,’ the Mel­bourne 4x4 Train­ing and Prov­ing Ground south-west of the city.

Proof of the pud­ding

Luck­ily ( for the Ki­wis in­volved any­way) the steady rain which had been fall­ing all day put a su­per slip­pery sheen over the oth­er­wise grippy sand­stone base the Prov­ing Ground is built on. The rain also had quickly raised the wa­ter ta­ble and ‘river’ ( which was re­ally more of a pond) into which we were di­rected to test the wad­ing depths of the as­sem­bled Rangers. The re­sult was that what in the dry would have been a cake walk be­came an ex­er­cise in pre­cise throt­tle con­trol and pre­ci­sion ve­hi­cle place­ment – plus, of course, fea­tures like Ford’s ver­sion of Hill De­scent. All, of course, on stan­dard A/ T tyres, and tyre pres­sures... Here, Ford New Zealand are play­ing a per­cent­ages game, re­tain­ing the sig­na­ture sin­gle­turbo five-cylin­der en­gine/

six-speed auto as its pre­ferred pow­er­plant but clear­ing the way for early adapters by of­fer­ing the new twin-turbo two-litre/ 10-speed auto as an op­tion on its Wild­trak model.

A mas­ter stroke

While I can com­pletely un­der­stand why ( you don’t kill the Golden Goose un­til you ab­so­lutely have to, do you?) hav­ing now used it ‘ in situ’ I think the new, smaller, two-puffer four is an ab­so­lute mas­ter stroke... de­spite all the in­ter­net chat­ter – and Aussie in­ter­net car site ‘re­views’ which claim it is ‘ too small.’ Ei­ther way, New Zealand’s big­gest seller is both bet­ter­specced and, be­cause of it, bet­ter value than the one it re­places. And be­cause I have yet to drive it, I can only spec­u­late on the im­pact the im­mi­nent ar­rival of the jewel in the crown of the MY 19 range, the Rap­tor, will have.

Rap­tor is here now with sales go­ing gang­busters!

In­te­rior of Wild­trak also up­dated for MY 19.

4x4 Prov­ing cen­tre has a range of ob­sta­cles.

Rain also raised the level of the main pond cross­ing…

Plenty of ar­tic­u­la­tion and ground clear­ance.

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