I have been a Holden man all my life, and when the business grew to a point where I needed a truck, I went shopping.
I tested all the new utes on the market, all bar the HiLux because of its crummy new engine, dull interior and disgusting exterior – bias aside and ignoring the badge on the grille, the Ranger was my pick by a country mile.
How a tradie ute can have that much technology, comfort and practicality is beyond belief. I surprise friends and family constantly when picking them up for a drive. The power and economy is amazing also. From Canberra to Sydney the Ranger averaged 12.6L/100km towing a race car, with that glorious 3.2 easily delivering the goods when the going got hilly.
The Mrs was hesitant at first, getting rid of the “comfy” luxurious euro for a truck, but I talked her round and now she loves it! Important stand-outs were space, comfort and gadgets. She’s not too fond of parking it but I think that’s because of the size (so she chooses to drive our Focus instead). The sensors are handy and the rear-view camera is up there with the best in the market. It makes hooking up the car trailer a cinch. My 80-year-old Grandma could probably do it!
If I had to pick the not so awesome points (I won’t use the word ‘Bad’), it is a big car and sometimes in the city you find yourself clenching your butt cheeks as you manoeuvre the Ranger’s width through a tight gap. But, this is not a vehicle designed for the city, so it’s a minimal issue.
The other issue is, every bastard like myself, has figured out how good these trucks are and have gone out and bought one, so now there’s nothing special about them because they are everywhere. It would be like if every man had a Ferrari, they wouldn’t be special anymore.
Christmas weekend I was down on the NSW South Coast with the Ranger, and whilst you do spot the odd grey nomad sitting in his 90s Patrol staring at you in awe, everywhere else you look is a Ranger! So you just look like a sheep.
Luckily the week prior to tripping down the coast, I had tossed those awful looking factory XLT rims and swapped them out for some aggressive looking D-lockers wrapped with Hankook Dynapro AT’s to set me apart from the herd. I also tossed the sports bar in the bin and opted for the cleaner look with a factory soft tonneau cover.
Back to things that get the thumbs-up, the tech and interior. Most people driving around in their tree-friendly or dull taxi industry-designed cars; think “oh another one of them big trucks, another tradie”. Truth is, until you’ve been in one and driven one, you don’t realise how nice they actually are – and I’m guilty of this!
The cabin is a very pleasant place to be – that instrument cluster with the two screens either side of the speedo makes for a very ‘European supercar’ feeling and then there’s the centre dash dominated by that huge 8-inch touchscreen which simplifies and professionalises the whole interior, everything controlled from the one place.
Super comfy seats are a big tick. In the euro car I couldn’t drive three hours without getting some sort of back ache. I drove the Ranger from Adelaide to Canberra with ease. Other little things like the 230v outlet in the back seat, the air-con cooled centre console for your drinks and chocolate and the massive amounts of storage space behind the back seat – strokes of genius!
You feel like you’re driving a nice posh car and that helps justify that significant price tag, all while thinking “this is meant to be a tradie truck, all scratched up on building sites and filled with dust and mud”, but due to Ford’s accomplishments, everyone and anyone is snapping them up – I even have friend who is a dentist who bought a Ranger!
I love my Ranger, with the small exception of that Blue Oval on the grille, I hope to own it for many years to come and good luck to Ford, on bettering what’s already pretty close to perfect.