As the Ford Motor Company of South Africa sits in the throes of huge controversy around its Kuga SUV, one of its best and best-selling vehicles, the Ranger, falls due for review on CyberStoep.
I have driven the Ranger dozens of times in the five years since it’s local launch and, thanks to a mid-life facelift at the end of 2015, the Ranger’s macho appeal hasn’t waned. Ford also saw fit during 2016 to pair the six-speed automatic gearbox with the 2,2-litre engine – which is the vehicle we have for you here today.
What can I expect from the Ranger?
Even in mid-spec XLS trim, which lacks the bold statement made by the swathes of chrome adorning the XLT versions, the Ranger cuts a serious figure. Its grille and mirrors, finished in matte grey hue, compliment the angry, no-nonsense persona of the facelifted model.
While the similarly refreshed interior lacks the flair of that in arch-nemesis Hilux, the new dashboard creates a greater sense of space thanks to its broad horizontal design. In fact, interior space is excellent for a double cab bakkie, especially in the back. The large front seats are exceptionally comfy, too, especially on long journeys.
The seat fabrics and interior plastics used on the XLS are of good quality and hard wearing, albeit aimed more at rough-n-tough off-roading or a work environment. Everyday practicality is aided by under-seat storage at the rear.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
Overall the Ranger XLS is well equipped. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stability Programme are standard, as is a host of electronic aids to ease carrying a load or traversing rough terrain when the electronic shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system is engaged.
These include Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control, Adaptive Load Control and Roll-over Mitigation.
The revised Ford Sync audio system (no touch screen on the XLS, but the 4,2-inch display is colour and a reversing camera is optional) and ventilation controls feel more up to date.
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
The 2,2-litre, four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi produces 118 kW and 385 Nm of torque. While it’s still completely up to the task, this engine is beginning to show its age – being less refined than some newer diesels on the market. (During 2016 Ford revealed an all-new 2,0-litre diesel engine, which promises new levels of efficiency, performance and refinement, that will make its way into all Ford light-commercial vehicles.)
The talking point of this particular model is the autobox, which operates smoothly (and responsively in manual mode). The combination works well, just lacking slightly in overtaking pace.
Importantly, it eases the task of driving a vehicle capable of carrying 1 001 kg. Furthermore, the Ranger’s handling and ride comfort have always been top-drawer. Experience tells us, too, that it’s abilities extend to being a refined and capable long-distance cruiser.
Should I buy one, or look around?
One of the main downsides is the fuel consumption, which recorded a heavy 13,6 l/100 km in mainly town driving. However, this does come down significantly on the open road.
The R529 000 retail price includes a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, five-year corrosion warranty, three-years roadside assistance and five-year/100 000 km service plan.
The Ranger 2.2 XLS 4×4 AT remains as capable as ever, while easing the drive and offering the image to match. Yes, it’s one of Ford’s finest.
CyberStoep rating: 7,5/10
I’m Cyberstoep’s resident (self-appointed) motoring fanatic. My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise … Read more