It’s big, it’s brash and it’s the latest iteration of Ford’s ‘built Ford tough’ commercial utes. When you need torque and load carrying capacity, sometimes the Falcon ute range won’t do the job.
The Ford Ranger range recently received a styling and mechanical upgrade, making it an even more appealing option for tradesmen who care more about functionality than big wheels and unusable trays.
From the exterior, the Ranger is surprisingly handsome. While it shares most parts with the Mazda BT-50, the Ranger has its own styling elements. Flared wheel arches and a chrome grille help make the Ranger look less like an industrious piece of plant and more like a usable daily driver for the times it’s not busy hauling goods.
The up-spec XLT 4×2 being tested features alloy wheels, chrome handles and grille, side steps, bedliner and sports bar.
A payload of 1026kg stacks up well against the competition from Holden, Toyota and Mitsubishi. A nifty feature fitted to the bedliner is a 12V auxiliary power socket, meaning no more extension cables for compressors and the like which require 12V power.
The Ranger offers class leading braked towing capacity of 3000kg. The optional tow package includes a self levelling kit and has been engineered to work in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations.
A surprisingly modern cabin is a subtle change from the regular fanfare on offer from commercial vehicles. Sport weave trim seats and a leather wrapped steering wheel make the Ranger a reasonable proposition as a daily driver.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is fantastic. The end of the bonnet is within eyeshot, likewise with the outer edges of the tray, making reversing a carefree task.
Interior room is reasonable, but somewhat cramped in the rear. Dual-cab commercial vehicles have certainly evolved from their incarnation, but still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to rear passenger comfort.
A six-stack CD-player with four speakers provides plenty of quality noise, in addition to MP3 compatibility.
Standard features include: Six-disc CD-player with MP3 compatibility, air conditioning, electric windows, power mirrors, central locking, rear demister, tilt adjustable steering column, passenger sliding lunch tray, 16-inch alloy wheels, limited slip differential, cruise control, fog lamps and anti-theft alarm.
Standard safety features include: Driver and front passenger SRS airbags, driver and front passenger side head/thorax airbags, engine immobiliser, locking fuel cap and ABS brakes.
Behind the wheel, the Ranger surprises with back-shoving acceleration and smooth gear shifts. Fitted with a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, it produces 115kW and an impressive 380Nm of torque.
One of the Ranger’s most favourable traits is its fuel consumption. Ford claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.5-L/100km, which was easily matched and bettered on test, returning a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.9-L/100km.
The steering is very direct and the brakes have progressive feel, making the drive feel car-like and nothing like a conventional commercial vehicle.
Available with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox, our test vehicle was fitted with the five-speed manual variety.
While first gear could have a taller gear ratio, second through to fifth offer stellar acceleration, so much so that the Ranger feels sporty if nothing else.
The ride over highways and country roads is generally good. The rear leafspring suspension setup means plenty of bouncing on rough roads with an empty load though.
An impressive 12.5m turning circle makes u-turns and three point turns an easy task, normally commercial vehicles like the Ranger are plagued with massive turning circles – with the Triton being one of the worst offenders.
Starting at 21,990 for the 4×2 cab chassis XL model, the 4×2 dual cab XLT model being tested retails for $40,590 – some $8000 cheaper than the equivalent Toyota Hilux.
Here I was thinking tradesmen were still being lumped with slow, boring commercial vehicles without a feature to their name.
Surprisingly the Ranger offers an exceptional drive, plenty of features and impressive load carrying and towing capacities. An inspiring interior and stylish exterior help make the Ford Ranger a weekday work vehicle and weekday driver.
Reasonable pricing and fantastic fuel consumption make the Ford Ranger a number one contender for budding tradesmen.