I picked up my brand new Ford Ranger FX4 a little over three weeks ago.
Before forking out for the car, I test drove a number of dual-cab utes in the same class as the Ranger including the Volkswagen Amarok, Holden Colorado and Toyota HiLux.
I drove the Ranger first. I test drove an FX4 automatic and instantly loved it. The cabin was modern and sleek plus the exterior was the toughest looking out of all the utes I had on my shortlist. The engine and transmission combination felt refined while also being fun to drive.
The Amarok was next. The incredible output from the V6 was a surprise. It easily felt more 'SUV-like' than the Ranger and the interior was very comfortable. However it was disappointing about the omission of rear curtain airbags. I wasn't prepared to risk a side impact collision with children in the back.
While not directly involved in the automotive industry I have been exposed to the benefits of side impact curtain airbags in a collision and considered them a must-have. The VW was sitting in second behind the Ranger mostly due to safety concerns. If I didn't have a young family, the VW would have made my decision a lot harder.
The Colorado was a close third. I drove the Z71 and found the torque of the 2.8-litre engine was surprisingly punchy off the mark, especially for a big double-cab ute. The cabin looked hard wearing and probably the most 'truck like' off all the utes but it just didn't feel as good as the Ranger in almost every category.
The HiLux was a distant fourth. I love the tough looking exterior of the Hilux along with the modern interior but I felt the ride quality was nowhere near the refinement of the other three, and the engine felt a little underdone.
So that provided a clear winner for me in the Ford Ranger.
After deciding on the Ranger, I was originally keen on the 'Magnetic' gun metal grey colour that is advertised on the FX4 television commercial and other marketing material. However, when I walked into the showroom, I saw an FX4 in 'Shadow' black and instantly changed my mind.
Even considering how much more of a pain it will be to keep clean, it just has more of a 'wow' factor, plus it looks so much more meaner in black as opposed to the other three colours in the FX4 range.
So after signing the contract I received my FX4 about a week later and since I have picked it up I'm rapt with it.
Prior to buying the Ranger I owned a 2011 Holden Commodore SSV Redline. I loved that car but since owning the Ranger I don't know if I could go back to a sedan, even if that sedan had 270kW compared to the Ranger's 147kW (I do, however, extremely miss the noise the Commodore made). I much prefer the ride height of the Ranger to the Commodore.
I can't really comment on the long-term pros and cons of the Ranger after only owning it for three weeks. I can, however, express how happy I am with the car.
It's very comfortable both on the freeway and in traffic. It's a little bit noisy on start-up but I put that down to how cold it has been the last few weeks. Once on the road it is surprisingly quiet for a big diesel.
The 3.2 litre turbo diesel is very torquey with good bottom end. The automatic transmission is also faultless and works well in combination with the engine.
The cabin is fitted with all sorts of good gear for both leisure and safety. The adaptive cruise control is phenomenal. I drove on the M1 between Newcastle and Sydney and once I was set, I didn't need to accelerate or brake until the Sydney exit.
The climate control is a little hit and miss so far, as it takes a while to heat the cabin on a cold morning and on a sunny day at 22 degrees it doesn't seem as cold as it should be.
It is a surprisingly big car. I notice, especially when parking, that it is much longer than other cars I'm parked next to. I also can't wait to get over the paranoia of having a brand-new car and making the decision of where to park it.
The only other gripe I have is that when using Apple CarPlay you can't engage the native Ford Sync 3 sat-nav system, only the Apple Maps system. Not only is the Sync 3 sat-nav a better system, it uses no data and displays on the main console touchscreen along with turn-by-turn navigation commands in the instrument cluster window. Apple Maps just displays on the 8.0-inch touchscreen.
I've tried to toggle with the settings but I can only manage to disengage CarPlay altogether which is a shame because the media capabilities of CarPlay are better than Sync 3. If someone out there can tell me how to use CarPlay, but at the same time native Sync 3 sat-nav, that would be great.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Ford Ranger. It is solid all round with tough looks, comfortable interior and modern tech features both for comfort and safety.