Ford’s range of Ranger utes is headed up by the all-singing, all-dancing Ranger Wildtrak (read review). But which Ranger does the real dirty work and occupies the bottom rung of the ladder? That would be the base-model 2WD Ranger XL. So what does this blue-collar workhorse have to offer? Car and SUV spent a week at the helm of a Ranger XL to uncover any signs of raw charm.
Like any base-model vehicle the Ranger’s strongest selling point should be its price. But with a $36,790 tag the single cab Ranger XL is priced at a $3k to $6k premium over its main rivals in the base-model Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado and Navara DX. The Ranger has been recently refreshed and certainly looks the part, but is that enough to warrant the extra coin.
Visually the Ranger XL is modern, even in its most standard guise. A chunky silver grille, vents in the guards and a raised bonnet line create interest up front. Out back it’s all business with simple horizontally mounted backlights. On our ‘chassis only’ model a loading tray represents a not-quite-optional extra and will depend on purpose and preference. Our test Ranger made use of a metal framed wooden tray with drop-down sides that had a certain agricultural chic and solid practicality. The Spartan exterior look is finished off with 15-inch steel wheels as standard.
Under the bulging bonnet lays Ford’s 2.5-litre turbo diesel power plant that makes use of common rail injection and is good for 105kW of power at 3,500rpm. What’s more impressive is the 330Nm of torque on offer from just 1,800rpm giving the Ranger XL some stump-pulling twist. Unladen it can be quite brisk and has no problems keeping up with urban traffic while returning a respectable 8.5L/100km combined fuel economy. Mated exclusively to a 5-speed manual transmission the Ranger XL is a breeze to drive around town with its light clutch and well-mannered engine. On the downside, excessive wind, road and engine noise enter the cabin making the Ranger XL a notch unrefined even among utes.
In terms of handling, the Ranger’s leaf-sprung rear end will float around with minimal weight over the back axle, and can be left wanting for grip in wet conditions. That said, the rear driving wheels push hard making good use of the available torque and a limited slip differential to provide a competent feel regardless of road surface. Off-road it won’t be able to match its 4WD siblings but it does have good clearance and a solid ladder frame chassis giving it some capability in the rough stuff. The 2WD Ranger is $7k cheaper than its 4WD match which represents a good saving if it’s destined for predominately on-road use.
On work duty the Ranger is all business with a carrying payload of 1308kg and a towing capacity of 2250kg with a braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.
Durability is the call in the Ranger’s cabin with large doses of plastic, rubber and hardwearing cloth. A three-ringed instrument cluster and silver trim add some flair to the basic but well laid out switchgear. All surfaces can be easily wiped down and there are some convenient touches like an auxiliary input for the single-CD Stereo, small item storage, cup holders and a slide-out document tray. However, the Ranger’s base-model status is highlighted by the absence of electric windows and remote locking. The single-piece bench seat is firm but comfortable and has a middle passenger lap seat belt. The middle seat is little more than a token gesture and would involve someone seated straddling the gearstick making for a rather bonding experience between driver and passenger.
Safety was once a non-consideration in the ute segment but is now taken far more seriously. The Ranger XL has occupants covered with driver and passenger airbags and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.
While the Ranger XL is an unashamedly bare bones base-model it is well-constructed and very easy to drive against both urban and rural backdrops. Its diesel engine is strong and the chassis and suspension are ready to put in some hard yakka. Styling is suitably modern and the cabin is simple and robust. While the Ranger struggles to compete on price and reputation with its competitors Ford brand fans and those who simply don’t want another Hilux will easily find appeal.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications
Price: $36,790 chassis only
What we like:
- Torquey economical engine
What we don’t like:
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Ford Ranger 4×2 Single Cab – Specifications
Combined fuel economy (L/100km) 8.51
Fuel tank capacity (L) 70
CO2 emissions (g/km) 21921
2.5L Turbo diesel common rail injection
Alternator 70 AMP
Battery 12V 64 AMP
Bore x Stroke (mm) 93.0 x 92.0
Compression ratio 18
Configuration DOHC 16 valve
Displacement (cc) 2,499 cc
Max. Power (DIN) 105kW @ 3,500rpm
Max. Torque (DIN) 330Nm @1,800 Rpm
Towing Capacity – Maximum (kg)
Front – Fully Independent Double Wishbone. Torsion bar springs & double action shock absorbers
Rear – Dual rate semi-elliptic leaf spring fore/aft mounted, double action shock absorbers. Semi floating hypoid rear axle
Wheels & Tyres
Wheels 15″ x 6.5″
Tyres 215/70 R15
Spare wheel Steel
Exterior Dimensions (mm)
Ground clearance – Minimum unladen (rear axle differential) 181
Height – Overall 1622
Length – Overall 4848
Length – Back of cab to rear axle 1208
Overhang – Front 888
Overhang – Rear 975
River fording depth 400
Track – Rear 1450
Track – Front 1445
Width – Overall 1715
Axle rating – Front maximum 1170
Axle rating – Rear maximum 1860
Gross combination mass (GCM) 5100
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 2870
Kerb mass (kg) 1562
Payload (maximum) (kg) 1308
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo