I came out of a 2006 BMW X5 and this ute matches it well. I bought the manual after driving both and the magnificent gear change sold me on it. It shifts better than any manual vehicle I have ever driven and I have driven Lambo's and Ferrari's. I look forward to shifting gears now!
I have done more than 10,000k's in the few weeks I have owned it with two return trips from Melbourne to Airlie Beach in far north QLD - the second trip towing a heavily laden 10 x 5 caged trailer. It seemed oblivious to the weight and staggered me with the low down torque. The hill start option makes starting on a hill a breeze in a manual and removes about the only disadvantage I see in a manual. It cruises in 6th gear at 110kph at about exactly 2000 rpm and still has the grunt to deal with any but the biggest of hills, and only when the trailer is on. Without the trailer it is awesome.
The electric steering is faultless and has the perfect road feel at all speeds. It is quiet and comfortable and better than the BMW, it fits my 6 foot 1" frame perfectly, making these long drives very comfortable.
The only thing I would complain about is the key and finding it - The key is at right angle to the fob, which is odd. There is no light around the ignition and I find I have to visually look to find the ignition, especially at night. Maybe the lock is not where your hand falls, but it requires craning your head around the wheel to find it. No doubt I will get used to it but this shouldn't be so hard.
I paid for the Technology Pack due to my regular solo 2500 km drives. The car returns me to the middle of the road if I drift and gently vibrates the wheel if I head out of my lane. The adaptive cruise control is sensational. You set your speed and "cruise". If you start catching someone it just adjusts the speed to keep you a safe distance behind them. If you pull out into another lane, it automatically returns to your set speed - impressive.
Another feature I love is the GPS shows the legal limit in any given area on the dash of the car! This is invaluable when travelling, sometimes tired, and you wish to not break the speed limit. You can glance at your dash to see the speed limit then see what you are doing. Beats waiting km's to see the next sign!
The TECHNOLOGY PACK is worth its weight in gold if you use it for what it was designed for and get used to the car sending you messages. One other advantage the manual has over the auto is the auto stop/start at traffic lights. If you pop it into neutral at lights and release the clutch, the engine turns off to save fuel. The second you touch the clutch the engine starts itself and is ready before you can let in the clutch. This is not available on the auto. Another cool part of this is that if you have the air-con on and the cabin temperature rises too high while at the lights the engine starts itself to allow the air to cool the cabin!! Bit spooky having the car stop and start but it is very impressive technology.
There is good storage behind the rear seat and the base of the rear seat also lifts and has two storage compartments under it. The music system has USB, iPod connectivity and the console has a 240 volt power point! It is a very smart car and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The car is well worth its money and makes a great family car as well as a very comfortable work horse.
I asked the dealership what everyone buys, now the Falcon is dead. They said the Ranger. It is becoming the new family car and I can see why. It is plenty big for family comfort inside. It is as easy to drive as a compact, especially with the great rear view camera, and it has the power to tow a massive caravan or boat and still has the tray for any amount of luggage. This is a highly recommended drive.
I love this car and would recommend it to anyone.