All new Ford Ranger: does it move mark for bakkies?

It’s amazing to think that the now previous generation Ranger has been with us since 2013. In that time, Ford has produced over 800,000 of them at the Silverton plant in Pretoria and sold a staggering number across 180 countries. 

Now there’s a new one and I was in the Western Cape recently to try it out. There’s obviously a huge amount of pressure on Ford with this vehicle, if for no other reason than that they’ve invested $5 bn in R&D over the last 6 years of development.

The design language has become even more bold. We met the chap who penned the very first sketches of the new vehicle and he explained the desire to make the Ranger unmistakably Ford, and leverage off the Ranger’s reputation for being tough. I think it looks great, so that’s a good start. 

On the inside, the new Ranger really has stepped up a notch. A 10 (XLT) or 12 (Wildtrak) inch portrait infotainment screen dominates the centre part of the dashboard, offering all the latest gadgets you can think of (including Apple Carplay and Android Auto of course). The instrument cluster gains a fully digital display that can be customised to your liking. 

The engine line-up has moved away from the old 3.2 and 2.2 litre turbo diesel units from the previous generation and adopted the 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine that was introduced about 4 years ago. It comes in both single and bi-turbo guise and is mated to a 6 and 10 speed automatic gearbox respectively. The engineering team has extensively revised the software that controls the engine mapping and gearbox calibration which has made the drivetrain so much more refined and results in being able to utilise the engine’s torque more effectively. Despite marginally lower power and torque figures, required to meet stricter emission regulations, the Ranger drives better now than before. It’s one of the stand out changes in the new vehicle. 

Another engine has been added to the line-up in the form of a 3.0 litre turbo diesel. Producing 184kW and 600Nm, it’s the mac-daddy of the Ranger offering. Also with a 10 speed automatic gearbox, it’s as smooth as silk and offers greater refinement and ease of towing over the 2.0 litre engines. 

A key element of the Ranger’s underpinnings, the chassis frame, has been revised and now produced in house by Ford. This has allowed some key suspension modifications that not only add to the vehicle’s comfort but also its off road ability. 

All of this was put to test as we traversed the Hottentots Holland mountain range between Grabouw and Theewaterskloof. Put the Ranger into the appropriate off road mode and point its nose toward the summit and it’ll simply chug away, clawing its way to the top of any obstacle you throw it at. 

Given the turbulent weather this month, I was glad to be on the roads in the Ranger as we came across a flooded N1 just outside De Doorns. We certainly put the 800mm wade depth to test a few times on the journey. It didn’t seem to matter what road conditions we threw at the Ranger, it just lapped it up.

The more time one spent in the Ranger, the more apparent it became that the design and engineering teams had spent considerable effort in understanding customer requirements and use cases, then implementing solutions to those requirements at source. The result is a more cohesive vehicle. For example, many people add additional wiring into their Rangers for auxiliary lights, or camping fridges and other such equipment. This would normally require running your own cables by pulling the dashboard apart, then finding a spot for some aftermarket switches. In the new Ranger, Ford has built in 8 auxiliary switches overhead by the cabin light, with pre wired harnesses. Another such example is the step behind the rear wheel to allow easier access to the load bin without opening the tailgate. Customers said they stood on the wheel to access the bin, so Ford made a more convenient solution for the new bakkie. 

The other aspect that jumped out at me was the pricing. The new Ranger comes in slightly cheaper than the outgoing model – which sounds quite surprising, doesn’t it? There are some nuances, like the way that Ford has packaged the different spec levels (Base, XL, XLT, Wildtrak) and is now offering option packages rather than just throwing in equipment hoping it’s what the customer wants. But, on balance, the pricing is competitive, to say the least.

To say that the bakkie market has been tipped on its head by the new Ranger isn’t that far a stretch. It’s certainly the first complete overhaul of the big players in recent times, so it should move the mark somewhat. The Ranger might well do a little more than that, though. 

Base

2.0L SiT Double Cab 4×2 6MT R486 000

2.0L SiT Double Cab 4×4 6MT R528 600

XL

2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×2 6MT R529 900

2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×2 6AT R544 400

2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×4 6MT R607 300

2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×4 6AT R621 900

XLT

2.0L SiT Double Cab XLT 4×2 6AT R592 700

2.0L SiT Double Cab XLT 4×4 6AT R669 800

2.0L BiT Double Cab XLT 4×2 10AT R702 300

2.0L BiT Double Cab XLT 4×4 10AT R782 100

Wildtrak

2.0L BiT Double Cab Wildtrak 4×2 10AT R778 300

2.0L BiT Double Cab Wildtrak 4×4 10AT R867 700

3.0L V6 Double Cab Wildtrak 4WD 10AT R953 500

Included as standard is a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first.

Customers have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 165 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km, while the Roadside Assistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.

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