Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review

Utes are a fantastic invention. Serving duty for all manner of tradespeople, farmers, hardcore dudes with motocross bikes, and more, they’ve made life convenient for those that need to transport filthy stuff without hitching up a trailer, and without getting grubbiness in the driving compartment. They (mostly) drive better than a van, and with the right tyres can deal with some really rough terrain.

However, they have a dark side. Leaf spring suspension is less than ideal on the road, they’re often noisy and rough, you don’t have the luxury of a boot to hide valuables in, and for all the convenience they give you, the manufacturers are acutely aware that price is a huge factor when you’re buying a work vehicle. They’re less of an emotive purchase therefore they’ve often been lacking in features that car drivers take for granted just to keep the price down.

The new Ranger challenges this, though. It’s an improved model that’s making some of the other utes look decidedly 1999. Four things set this ute apart from the others:

Gearbox: The gearbox is a six-speed manual which has (in ute standards) a very short throw. Whereas many ute gear changes feel like you’re rowing a boat, this reminds me of my old WRX STI – notchy, needs a bit of a firm hand, but very satisfying.

Looks: Channeling the brawn of its bigger American brother, the F150, the Ranger makes many other trucks look, well, puny. Check it out next to the Mitsubishi Triton in the photo gallery and you’ll see that the Triton looks like it was starved as a child. I caught other ute drivers giving it the eye on numerous occasions.

Ride and handling: the previous model was reasonably accomplished, but this seems better. We drove the top spec Wildtrak last time, and in this new model, which is the model down, at times I was under the illusion that I was driving a car. It’s never going to slalom like a Focus Sport, but for general cruising on the motorway and reasonable quality roads, you’re going to make smooth progress. My significant other even fell asleep in the passenger seat on the trip back fromThames where some of these photos were taken. We didn’t have any mud tyres and it was raining, therefore no off-road excursions were taken. However, it has some serious off-road specs comparing it to other utes available, so it appears that it could handle what’s thrown at it.

Driving features: voice activated stereo, Bluetooth phone integration, auxiliary USB input for the stereo, reversing sensors (hooray!), dual climate control, hill descent mode, hill-hold (so you don’t roll backwards when starting in first gear uphill, etc, etc. It’s an impressive level of kit that’s crammed in the cabin. There are also plenty of safety features, too, such as six airbags, trailer sway mitigation, ABS, EBD, EBA and dynamic stability control. These safety features work like this: find one steep, slightly curved, slippery road (or other surface), try braking fairly heavily with no load in the back and to up the ante change down to second to shift-lock the rear wheels. In a ute with none of the electronic trickery you will end up in serious trouble, most likely facing the wrong way or rolling over. The Ranger will give a quick skip sideways for a fraction of a second before a short burst of ABS noise will bring it all under control again. It is extremely reassuring, and  feature available on many utes now.

Then there are the other physical features. Not only is there a usefully deep wellside cargo area with tie-down points for carrying whatever you want, but in the cabin there are three sizeable compartments (including the chilled central binnacle), plus spaces for bottles, cups and a convenient area to hold your iPod when it’s plugged into the aux input.

Other useful features are the ability to switch to 4WD high or low range (with locked diff) on the fly using a small dial rather than a cumbersome gear lever. It has a three-tonne towing capacity (3350kg on a braked trailer) and over 1300kg payload in this model, too. There’s good headroom and legroom in the cab, so there’ll be no problem transporting you, your mates and a lot of gear.
Can I find anything wrong with the Ranger? I mean, it recently won some car of the year award (I don’t believe in them, so I don’t pay much attention). Yes, I can, but only two things. The first is that it can be a little sluggish. It’s a big, heavy machine, and compared to the Triton, it seems a bit slow. The second is that it feels too similar to the new Mazda BT-50 – of course the BT-50 is based on the Ranger, so that’s no surprise. I had the fortune of driving the BT-50 and the Ranger back-to-back. Much of the switchgear is the same, it’s got similar performance, and the only discernable difference was that the Mazda felt like it was more softly sprung, and the gearbox felt slightly easier (but that could be an individual vehicle, and not uniform across the range). Does the Ranger, then, stand out enough?

If you look at individual specs, you’ll find the Ranger often isn’t the best ute. It gets beaten by some of its competitors in one or more of power, torque, ground clearance, turning circle, departure angles, fuel economy, etc, etc. However, it’s like the racing driver that consistently finishes on the podium and ends up winning the championship. Sometimes it’s in first, but other times it’s still scoring points. Whereas Toyota’s Hilux and Mitsubishi’s Triton have made incremental improvements, the new Ranger seems to have made a slightly bigger jump on the last Ranger, and it’s now the standard to beat. Your only question will be should you buy the BT-50 instead?

Pros

  • Great gearbox – 6-speed is welcome, and it feels good
  • Excellent interior spec
  • Looks like it will bully bullies
  • Good load space/towing capacity/load capacity
  • It’s the new benchmark

Cons

  • Lacks acceleration for the engine size.
  • Will people resist the reputation of the Hilux?

Price: $58690 for this model in manual. Range begins with 2WD single cab at $40290

Fuel Economy
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Combined fuel economy (L/100km) 1 8.9
Urban fuel economy (L/100km) 11.5
Extra-urban fuel economy (L/100km) 7.4
Fuel
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Fuel Diesel
Fuel tank capacity (L) 80
Fuel – BioFuel compatibility B10
Emissions Data
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
CO2 emissions (g/km) 2 235
Euro Stage IV emission level S
Engine
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Duratorq 3.2L Turbo Diesel Common-rail Injection (TDCi) S
Alternator 110 AMP
Battery 12V 60 AMP
Bore & stroke (mm) 89.9 x 100.76
Compression ratio 15.7:1
Displacement (cc) 3,199
Power – maximum (DIN) 147kW @ 3,000rpm
Torque – maximum (DIN) 470Nm @ 1,500-2,750rpm
Valves 20
Brakes
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Front – Ventilated disc brakes with twin piston calliper 302 x 32
Rear – Drum 295 x 55
Suspension
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Front – Fully independent double wishbone, coil-over-strut design S
Rear – Rear leaf design S
Steering
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Power-Assisted Steering S
Steering column – Tilt adjust S
Turning circle – kerb to kerb (m) 12.4
Turns to lock 3.5
Exterior Dimensions (degrees)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Approach angle – Unladen 29
Departure angle 3 28
Ramp breakover angle 25
Mechanical
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Electronic shift on the fly S
Locking rear differential -
Exterior Styling
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Box rails -
Load rest – Integrated into wellside -
Mudflaps – Front S
Mudflaps – Rear S
Outer tie downs -
Privacy glass – Rear passengers & back windows -
Sports hoop -
Tubular side steps S
Lights
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Headlights – Automatic S
Fog lights – Front S
Brakes – Rear high mounted stop light S
Comfort & Convenience
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Air conditioning – Manual -
Dual zone climate control S
Centre console with cooler box S
Cruise control – Steering wheel mounted S
Demister – Rear S
Rear view mirror – Auto dimming S
Rear view mirror – Auto dimming with camera display -
Sunvisors with ticket holder (driver) and vanity mirror (passenger) S
Windows – Power S
Interior Styling
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Floor – Carpet S
Floor – Vinyl covering -
Gear shift – Leather S
Mats – Carpet front & rear -
Steering wheel – Leather wrapped S
Trim – Cloth -
Trim – Premium cloth S
Trim – Leather -
Audio, Communications & Instruments
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Audio – MP3 compatibility S
Audio – Single CD player S
Audio – 3.5mm auxiliary input S
Audio – USB & iPod integration S
3.5″ Multi-functional display screen -
4.2″ Multi-functional display screen S
5.0″ Colour multi-functional display screen -
Bluetooth® mobile phone integration with voice control 4 S
Satellite navigation system -
Trip computer S
Cargo Dimensions (mm)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Wellside – Floor level load length 1,549
Wellside – Depth floor to top 511
Wellside – Maximum width 1,560
Wellside – Tailgate opening width 1,330
Wellside – Width between wheel arches 1,139
Safety
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
5 star Euro NCAP & ANCAP – Safety rating S
Airbags – Driver & front passenger S
Airbags – Side curtain front & rear S
Airbags – Side thorax front S
Brakes – Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Brakes – Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Brakes – Emergency (hazard warning) brake lights S
Brakes – Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Roll Over Mitigation S
Grade control logic -
Hill decent control S
Hill launch assist S
Load adaptive control S
Seatbelts – Beltminder™ system (Driver & front passenger) S
Seatbelts – Pre-tensioners front S
Trailer sway mitigation S
Reverse sensing system S
Reverse sensing system with camera -
Exterior Dimensions (mm)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Ground clearance – Unladen 237
Height – Overall 1,821
Length – Overall 5,351
Overhang – Front 905
Overhang – Rear 1,226
Track – Front / rear 1,560
Wading depth 800
Wheelbase 3,220
Width – Overall 1,850
Interior Dimensions (mm)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Front – Head room 1,022
Front – Leg room 1,058
Front – Shoulder room 1,440
Rear – Head room 986
Rear – Leg room 902
Rear – Shoulder room 1,430
Seats & Seatbelts
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Front seats – Heated -
Head restraints – Front height adjustable, rear fixed S
Seat adjust – Manual 4-way driver S
Seat adjust – Power 8-way driver -
Seatbelts – Front & rear 3-point S
Seats – Front bucket S
Security
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Immobiliser – Passive Anti-theft System (PATS) S
Locking – Fuel cap -
Locking – Remote fuel lid S
Locking – Childproof rear S
Locking – Remote central S
Locking – Tailgate S
Stowage & Carrying
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Roof rails -
Towing Capacity – Maximum (kg)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Braked 5 3,350
Unbraked 6 750
Transmission
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
6-speed manual S
6-speed automatic -
Transmission Ratios
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
1st 5.441
2nd 2.839
3rd 1.721
4th 1.223
5th 1.000
6th 0.794
Final drive 3.310
Reverse 4.935
Vehicle Masses (kg)
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Axle rating – Front maximum 1,480
Axle rating – Rear maximum 1,850
Gross combination mass (GCM) 5,950
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 3,200
Kerb mass 2,112
Payload – Maximum 1,088
Visibility
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Mirrors – Power with side indicators S
Mirrors – Power with side indicators, puddle lamps & heated -
Wipers – Variable intermittent front -
Wipers – Rain sensing S
Wheels & Tyres
XLT 4WD Double Cab Wellside
Wheel size 17″ X 8″
Wheel type Alloy
Tyre size 265/65 R17
Spare wheel 17″ x 7.5″ Steel

S – Standard.
- – Not Available.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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