The new Ford Ranger – legendary tough
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:
- Front styling
- Torquey economical engine
- Tough chassis
What we don’t like:
- Wind and road noise
- Pointless middle-seat
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
During the 1980s movie screen hard-man Sylvester Stallone taught the men of the world how to be macho. His blockbuster film franchises of Rocky and Rambo provided a two-pronged tutorial on how to be purposeful yet one-dimensional. The lesson didn’t go unnoticed and men everywhere bought aviator sunglasses, tore the sleeves off their T-shirts and communicated only with grunts and wolf-whistles. Sadly, by the end of the eighties the Rocky and Rambo movies had been played out and had lost their way. This left the men of the world without guidance and like a rudderless boat they drifted into discussing their feelings and actually caring about their appearance. Into the 1990s, and men found themselves in a position where they were still expected to take out the trash but also look sharp, and be intelligent to social issues.
What does all this have to do with utes? Quite a lot actually. Utility vehicles have followed a similar transition from being macho work hacks into good-looking, adaptable and comfortable multi-purpose vehicles. Want proof? Look at the new Ford Ranger Wildtrack.
The Wildtrack plays host to a full house of stylish eye-catching cues making it a much more interesting and rugged looking vehicle than the standard Ford Ranger. Priced at $59,490 the Wildtrack commands a $5000 premium over the Ranger XLT on which it’s based. For the extra admission price you get 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome three-bar front grille, colour-coded trim, aluminum side steps, roof and tray rails, a lockable retractable hard tonneau cover and those ‘special’ Wildtrack graphics. The masculine Ranger shape lends itself well to the larger wheels and silver rails to give the Wildtrack a unique stage presence.
The VIP treatment pushes into the cabin with ‘Wildtrack’ logo alcantara seats and floor mats. The seats are well bolstered and comfortable in the front, at the rear the seats offer generous room but have less support and an upright recline angle that may compromise comfort on longer trips. Interior materials are solid and switchgear is logical and well placed. There are no strange angles and the contrasting silver trim draws the eye to areas of interest. A three-ringed instrument cluster is easy to read and illuminates well. The Wildtrack receives extra dash-mounted gauges that display pitch and roll, internal and external temperature and a compass. Other special features include a leather-clad steering wheel and gear knob, six-disc CD stereo with aux input, power windows and mirrors, cruise control and remote central locking.
The only issues with the Wildtrack’s interior are the absence of a sash-belt for the middle seated rear passenger and the use of an under-dash umbrella type hand brake which isn’t ideal. Otherwise the cabin is class leading offering good comfort for the front passengers, decent space for the backseat, commanding visibility and a hardy fit and finish.
Working behind the scenes on the Wildtrack is Ford’s Duratorq diesel unit, it has a DOHC in-line four-cylinder layout and is a stellar performer. With 16 valves, common-rail injection and a turbo with intercooler it has Rocky punching power but is smooth like Apollo Creed. It can be a touch noisy when cold and at idle but once warmed up and on the road it ‘s free spinning and hums a mellow tune. Step on the go-pedal and the Wildtrack thumps out 115kW of power and 380Nm of torque from 1800 rpm. It’s a steady cruiser on the open road but is also well mannered around town, helped largely by its usable low-range torque.
The engine on our test vehicle was matched up with the 5-speed manual transmission that was easy to use. The clutch pedal was light and the throw short enough to make it a total breeze.
In terms of handling the Wildtrack doesn’t have any excessive body roll and is well served by independent double wishbones up front with a torsion bar and a semi-floating axle with multi-leaf springs at the back. When its time to play Rambo and go bush the Wildtrack is armed with a Borg Warner transfer case, a low-ratio 4WD setting and shift-on-the-fly capability between 2WD and 4WD-high. If conditions turn bad a torque-sensing limited slip differential at the rear is ready to push the Wildtrack along.
Overall ride quality is excellent on the Wildtrack and road-roar and wind-noise are well neutralized. While the ride is firm, only the most uneven of roads will have occupants bouncing around.
The Wildtrack can offer a 1016kg carrying capacity in the tray and is good for towing 750kg unbraked and up to 3,000kg braked. The double cab shortens the Wildtrack’s cargo tub but it’s still got plenty of room for toolboxes or bazookas.
If your mission doesn’t go to plan the Wildtrack has your back with dual-front airbags, side airbags and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution. Disc brakes work up front but the Wildtrack makes do with drums at the rear.
There’s no doubt times have changed in the competitive ute segment and expectations have shifted towards a vehicle that can both function as a commercial vehicle and double up as family transport. The Wildtrack is targeted squarely at buyers looking for a ute with this genre blurring capability. It has competence off road and on, is packing a modern but macho powerplant and has movie star good looks. The price of admission is on the high side for a commercial vehicle but those looking for something distinctive and practical should take a closer look.
Price: from $59,490
What we like:
- Extra gear
- Smooth diesel engine
- Quality interior
What we don’t like:
- Rear centre lap seatbelt
- Drum brakes
- Overdone ‘Wildtrack’ graphics
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Unveiled at this weeks Geneva Motor show is an updated version of the Kiwi favourite Ford Ranger. Sales are set to begin in Europe in April, owners will be able to choose from three body styles: the standard single cab, a double cab or the RAP (Rear Access Panel) variant, which features a set of rear-hinged panels just behind the front doors.
Ten colors will be available including five new hues — Copper Red, Desert Bronze, Highland Green, Lagoon Blue and Wining Blue. Power will be provided by either a 2.5- or 3.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel. Either oilburner will be available in either 4×2 or 4×4 configurations and mated to a choice of a five-speed automatic or manual gearboxes, and both engines are able to tow 3,000 kg, with the 2.5-litre unit putting out 145 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.0-litre unit delivering 156 hp and 180 280 lb-ft of torque. The interior gets all the usual extras, including air conditioning, power windows and a MP3-compatible stereo. Production will begin in Thailand this March.