MY19 FORD RANGER
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.
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.