THE Ranger is Ford’s most important model, locally. Not only does Ford SA build the Ranger here and export it to 148 countries worldwide, the model also serves as the biggest rival to the Toyota Hilux in the local sales race. Both bakkies make the one-ton segment the biggest in the South African market. So, with a new Hilux on the way, the updated Ranger had better be good. I was in Cape Town and drove the updated model to find out.
So what’s new?
Well first of all, the updated Ranger looks substantially different with a completely updated front end. There are new projector headlamps, a redesigned grille, a new bonnet and a reshaped bumper, which give the Ranger a similar look to the new Everest and also gives the bakkie a more upmarket look. The side and rear profiles remain unchanged however, I feel that the new front treatment is distinguishable enough for buyers to feel that the updated model is a worthy step up.
The Ranger has also been tweaked, inside. The interior looks simpler, as Ford has removed the button-festooned consoles from its range, which are seen in previous models. There is also a handy 240-volt power socket. The changes are most noticeable in the higher spec models (XLT and Wildtrak), which now get an entirely redesigned instrument cluster with a TFT digital display and more drive information. The centre console gets the Sync II infotainment system with an eight-inch screen, Bluetooth/AUX/USB/SD Card functionality as well as voice control. There are also new features on the high-spec models such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, driver fatigue warning and front/rear park assist.
Is it capable?
The Ranger dominates the double cab segment of the market because it is such a good lifestyle vehicle. We only drove 4x4 double cab models at launch and had an opportunity to take them to a very challenging off-road course. The cars are very capable, with a ground clearance of 230mm, an approach angle of 28 degrees and a departure angle of 25 degrees, as well as a wading depth of 800mm. This, combined with theselectable four-wheel-drive and with low range function, hill descent control and an electronic locking rear differential, makes the Ranger a very capable vehicle off-road; it didn’t skip a beat during our activities.
What’s it like to drive?
Bakkies are becoming increasingly capable in all environments; the Volkswagen Amarok and the Ranger have shown us that just because a bakkie looks tough and can rough it off-road that these virtues don’t mean that they are terrible road vehicles. The Ranger will likely spend most of its life on the road where it does feel verySUV-like in its drive quality, while the interior may look and feel a bit more utilitarian. The improvements come as a result of some suspension tuning, new sound deadening and an electric power steering system, all of which Ford claims improves handling and comfort.
What about the rest of the range?
There is a massive range or Rangers to choose from, some 33 models when you consider the single cab, super cab, double cab and Wildtrak models. The super cab range now has six variants, up from five and now includes a 3.2 4x4 automatic XLT model. The double cab range now has 15 models and now includes a2.2 TDCi XL 4x4 and a 2.2 TDCi 4x2 XLT manual.
All diesel models benefit from powertrain revisions. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel motor now has 118kW/385Nmand is a more refined unit than before, while Ford also claims that it’s more efficient. There is also a de-tuned version of the 2.2 diesel with 88kW/285Nm and a five-speed manual gearbox.
The 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel gets 147kW/470Nm with a claimed fuel saving of 18 percent when compared to the outgoing models and is available with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 2.5-litre petrol model remains unchanged with 122kW/226Nm and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Warranty, service plan and pricing
All models are sold with a four-year/120 000km warranty and a five-year/100 000km service plan(excluding Base derivatives). Ford is yet to release pricing as the vehicle will only be available at dealers from the first week of November.