| BUYERS GUIDE
Big and powerful, the Ranger is causing Toyota much worry - updated February 2018.
Jointly-developed Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 utes are hounding the traditional ute-market leader in Australia. The Ranger Mk II model was released in August 2015 and updated in mid-2016. A high performance Raptor model was announced in early 2018.
Ford made no secret of the fact that it wanted the HiLux’s traditional ute-market-leading position and it did just that in 2017, eclipsing the HiLux's sales for the first time.
Ford Ranger sales were up five percent in 2015 as HiLux sales slumped. Mitsubishi’s keenly priced Triton and the all-new Navara were also snapping at the HiLux’s back wheels.
Toyota pinned its hopes on the 2016 HiLux to stem the competitive advance, but on paper, the new Toyota didn’t match some of the offerings from its competitors: particularly the well-equipped Ranger MkII.
“The new technologies and safety enhancements available will continue to cement the Ranger’s reputation as one of the most technologically advanced and capable light trucks in Australia,” said Graeme Whickman, Ford President and CEO.
“Ranger continues to win friends and customers across the country, from urban trade people looking for a smart workhorse during the week, to rural folks who require a robust, stylish and capable light truck,” Whickman said.
“As well, the Ranger is a stylish weekend companion for recreational pursuits.”
For 2015, the PX Ranger MkII retained its four and five cylinder diesel powertrains, although it was interesting to note that there were only two manual-transmission vehicles in Ford’s press-release fleet of a dozen machines. The manual six-speed didn’t have a happy introduction to the Australian market, with some early dramas. The MkII manual box came with a new cable-shift mechanism.
The Ranger MkII continued with a towing capacity of up to 3500kg and wading depth of up to 800 mm.
Obvious changes to the MkII model were restyled frontal appearance, with new fenders, bonnet, bumper and trapezoidal grille. The headlamps were higher-mounted and there was a brush guard incorporated in the bumper design.
The PX Ranger MkII featured soft-touch materials and a new instrument cluster and centre panel.
Much development work was put into making the Ranger interior quieter with improved levels of noise, vibration and harshness. Fluid-filled engine mounts replaced solid rubber ones, for better vibration isolation.
An electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system replaced the previous hydraulic power steering box and provided varying degrees of assistance, based on speed, steering wheel angle, cornering forces and acceleration or deceleration.
By eliminating the power steering pump used in a traditional power-steering system, EPAS also resulted in a quieter vehicle and reduced fuel consumption by up to three percent.
Other new features included tyre pressure monitoring, an adjustable speed limiter, auto Stop/Start on manual transmission models and a 230V inverter on Double and Super Cab models.
The post-2015 model range continued with XL, XL Plus, XLS, XLT and Wildtrak equipment grades and pricing ran from the entry-level 4x2 Single Cab Chassis 2.2-litre TDCi model’s $27,390 up to the range-topping 4x4 Wildtrak Double Cab Pick-up 3.2-litre TDCi model’s $60,090.
As with the first PX model, Australia’s Product Development and Broadmeadows-based Design Centre led the design and development of the MkII.
The Ranger project’s Melbourne-based Global Chief Programme Engineer, Ian Foston, told OTA that his brief was roughly: “Upgrade the Ranger and incorporate new technology, but don’t compromise its proved appeal across 180 global markets”. So, no pressure there, Ian!
The Ranger MkII was powered by the latest-generation 3.2-litre TDCi engine that delivered 147kW and 470Nm, or the 2.2-litre TDCi engine that delivered 118kW and 385Nm. Both engines were available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Emergency Assistance was available across the range: designed to deliver critical information directly to 000 operators, indicating that the vehicle has been involved in an accident. The system advises the vehicle’s GPS location before opening the line for hands-free communication with the vehicle occupants.
Emergency Assistance uses the driver’s own paired mobile phone if it’s within mobile phone range.
Importantly for customers, SYNC2 with Emergency Assistance has no additional contracts or subscriptions to maintain the service. It’s free for the life of the vehicle.
What you get
Ranger XL models come with a driver-actuated rear-axle differential lock, as do all 4x4 versions in all grades.
XL 4x4s come in all cab styles, with a choice of 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre engines. There are also XL Plus models in Single Cab and Double Cab configurations.
XLs have 16-inch steel wheels; bucket seats with a driver’s manual-adjust seat that has lumbar support; auto headlamps; air conditioning; vinyl floor mats; 230V inverter in Double and Super Cabs; Bluetooth AM/FM stereo radio /MP3 CD player with voice control; USB/iPod integration; 4.2-inch colour multi-function display; SYNC1; alarm with perimeter, interior motion and vehicle movement sensors and cruise control with steering wheel mounted buttons.
Ranger XL Plus adds: 17-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tyres; daytime running lamps; plastic side steps; an expanded wiring harness with four-switch auxiliary bezel and a second battery
The two XLS 4x4 models are both Double Cab utes with 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre engines and have all XL equipment, plus 16-inch aluminium wheels; front fog lamps and carpet with front floor mats
The four Ranger XLT models are 3.2-litre Super Cab or Double Cab utes with 4x2 High Ride or 4x4 drivelines.
Each has XLS features plus: 17-inch aluminium wheels; towbar; chrome exterior trim; plastic side steps with bright inserts; sports bar with load box illumination; privacy glass; steel rear step bumper; power-fold mirrors; projector headlamps; auto wipers; dual colour 4.2-inch cluster screens; dual-zone climate control; cooled console; leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob; electro-chromatic rear view mirror; SD card slot; eight-inch colour touch screen; satellite navigation with traffic management channel; SYNC 2; DAB radio; mobile WiFi hotspot; tyre pressure monitoring; rear park assist and a bedliner with 12V socket.
An optional Tech Pack includes: reverse camera; adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert; driver impairment monitor; lane keep assist and lane departure warning.
The single Ranger Wildtrak model is a Double Cab ute that has XLT features plus: 18-inch aluminium wheels; plastic side steps with brushed inserts; Wildtrak sports bar; chromed rear step bumper; puddle lamps; eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment with lumbar support; heated, leather front seats; front and rear floor mats; ambient lighting; front park assist; reverse camera and a roller shutter tray cover.
The Tech Pack option for the XLT can be added to the Wildtrak.
With the Ranger’s 3200kg GVM for most models and all tare weights under the two-tonne mark, theoretical payloads are at least one-tonne, across the range.
Mid-2016 updates included rear view camera and reverse parking sensors as standard across the entire 2017 Ranger pick-up range (excluding XL Plus).
The XLT receives front parking sensors as standard, while the 4X4 XL Super Cab Chassis 3.2L is available with an automatic transmission.
2017 Ranger XLT and Wildtrak have SYNC 3^, Ford’s new in-vehicle communications and entertainment platform, featuring Apple CarPlay®, Android AutoTM, faster performance, more conversational voice recognition, intuitive smartphone-like touchscreen and an improved graphic user interface#.
2017 Wildtrak has standard driver assist technologies, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert, Driver Impairment Monitor, automatic high beam control, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning.
US model announced
In early 2018 Ford USA announced the mid-2018 launch of the Australian-developed Ranger pick up in North America. The ‘Ranger’ nameplate has been absent from the US market for five years, but has now been reintroduced to meet the perceived need for a somewhat downsized pick up from the F-150 size.
However, the Australian-market 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel is not part of the specification, mainly because of the infamous ‘dieselgate’ scandal following VW’s emissions-cheating exercise. Diesels aren’t popular in the USA, in other than large pick ups.
The US Ranger will be powered by the 2.3-litre version of the EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine that debuted in the 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover and was seen here in Falcons.
The 2.3-L engine normally produces 213kW (285 hp) at 5500rpm, with 414Nm of torque at 2750rpm, but in the Ford Mustang EcoBoost it has 231kW (310hp) at 5500 rpm, with 434Nm of torque at 3000 rpm.
The standard transmission is Ford’s 10-speed automatic box.
Raptor release in mid-2018
In February 2018, in Thailand, Ford previewed the Raptor derivative that's planned for second-quarter 2018 release Down Under.
The Raptor is designed for high-speed off-road driving and has reduced payload and towing capacity. A two-speed transfer case and rear diff lock remain, but the part-time 4WD system is replaced by a full-time one.The 10-speed Ford auto box is standard, coupled to a twin-turbo, two-litre diesel, with output of 157kW (213hp) and 500Nm of torque.
The Raptor is a crew-cab model only and rides on raised suspension, with Fox Racing Shox dampers all around. The rear leaf springs have been replaced by coil springs and the rear axle is located by a Watts linkage. This linkage provides more precise axle control than a Panhard rod.
Ranger Raptor comes with all the available Ranger 'fruit' and a Terrain Management System (TMS) offering six modes for various driving experiences, which can be selected via a five-button switch located on the steering wheel.
Ford has set the Raptor pricing at a heady 75 grand: "Tell 'em they're dreamin! '"
Ford put on an excellent on and off road driving program for the release of the 2016 Ranger, athough the emphasis was on Double Cab and extended Super Cab models with automatic transmissions.
The chief program engineer for the Ranger upgrade program, Ian Foston, pointed out that his mission was to enhance the product, without departing in any way from its proved market strengths. His main target areas were in-cabin noise reduction and further suspension refinement.
Our first driving impressions indicate that he suceeded on both counts. The unladen test vehicles had well-controlled suspension action and flat handling. We checked out loaded behaviour in a five-ute comparison.
The launch program did include a short tow test, with a 'Dirty Harry' Elite off-road caravan coupled to a Ranger Wildtrak. The Ranger 3.2 hauled the 2.5-tonnes van up a steep, gravel slope without any trouble an it cruised happily at legal speeds.
This particular caravan had a long drawbar that caused unnecessarily high ball weight, around 250kg and that sat the rear springs down on the helper leaves.
Ball weights around 100kg shouldn't worry the new Ranger, but high ball weights will need compensation in the form of weight distribution bars.
The new model's all-electric steering is lighter and quieter in action than the previous hydraulic power assisted system, but road feel is very good.
Our biggest complaint with the new Ranger is the driver control design and layout. Some lunatic design engineer was been let loose redesigning things that didn't need it. The switches and knobs are difficult to identify and awkward to use.
We found the auto gear selector a pain, although the new manual stick is much better to to operate.
The prevous-shape, pre-2011 Ford Ranger had part of the required package for market share improvement, boasting the most potent four-cylinder diesel engine in the ute class.
However, it powered re-skinned bodywork that was tad on the small side and the chassis had a torsion-bar suspended front end that didn’t provide optimum handling in concert with an over-stiff set of rear leaves.
It wasn’t a bad package for a ute, but Ford knew that more would be required: more people space and cargo volume; more refinement, more performance and more presence.
As with the outgoing model the post-2011 Ranger was based around three cab styles: Single, Double Cab and Super (with forward-opening rear doors and no obstructive B-pillar).
All models were longer, wider and higher than before, with no carry-over components from the previous range. A new box-section ladder frame that was taller, wider and thicker than before mounted a double-wishbone, coil-sprung front end with rack and pinion steering.
An underslung rear axle design with bias-mounted shock absorbers continued, but with longer springs and stronger brackets and shackles. A brand new five-cylinder, turbo-intercooled diesel was developed and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions were offered.
The 3.2-litre five-cylinder produced claimed maximum power of 147kW at 3000rpm, with peak torque of 470Nm in the 1750-2500rpm band. Claimed fuel consumption was 8.9L/100km.
A four-cylinder, 2.2-litre engine was available on the Single Cab manual transmission cab/chassis model.
Output was a claimed 110kW at 3700rpm, with peak torque of 375Nm at 1500-2500rpm.
More grunt, improved chassis dynamics and car-level electronic aids ensured that the new Ranger easily outperformed and out-handled its predecessor.
Standard kit included ABS with disc/drum EBD brakes; traction control; dynamic stability control; emergency brake assist and hill start assist; shift-on-the-fly 4WD selection; dial-selectable low range gearing; hill descent control and a lockable rear differential. The dynamic stability control system incorporated roll stability control, trailer sway control and adapted to suit different payloads.
Incidentally, drum rear brakes were retained because they provided a more powerful parking brake than the tiny drum-in-disc units fitted to 4WD wagons.
Three equipment levels were offered at launch: XL, XLT and Wildtrak.
XL was far from being a ‘poverty pack’, with aircon; power windows and mirrors; remote central locking; Bluetooth; steering wheel cruise control and audio controls; trip computer; auto lights function; USB input; six speakers in all but Single Cabs and front and curtain airbags.
In March 2013 Ford introduced the XLS spec' level - a tricked-up XL aimed at private and small business customers. The new addition to the Ranger lineup had a manufacturer’s list price of $48,090.
The XLS was based on the 4x4 XL Double Cab Pick-Up 3.2-litre model, with six-speed manual transmission and was intended to bridge the price gap between entry level XL and loaded XLT. The XLS came with locking rear differential, 16-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, carpeted floor and additional exterior trim highlights.
XLTs scored carpet; front fog lamps; dual-zone aircon; chromed side steps and rear step bumper; ambient temperature gauge; leather wrapped knob and steering wheel; locking rear diff; height and lumbar adjustable driver’s seat and tubular sports bar with high-mount stop light.
The Wildtrak was a Double Cab Ute model with XLT features plus leather seat trim, sports bars; satnav; rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Ford received an NCAP rating of five stars for all variants.
The part-time 4WD system had an electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case.
A new chassis allowed a longer, 3220-millimetre wheelbase and wider track of 1560mm. Measuring 1549mm long, 511mm high and with a maximum cargo width of 1560mm, the cargo box of the double cab was more than 100mm wider than the pre-2011 model’s. Width between the wheel arches was 1139mm on all ute models and there were ‘mezzanine-floor’ support pockets in the cargo box sides that allowed plywood or plaster board to be laid in flat sheets on a false floor.
Up front, the suspension was a new coil-over-strut, double wishbone suspension and rack and pinion steering is fitted. The back end has traditional ute leaf springs.
The brake system included Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist to provide maximum boost for the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). Flashing hazard lights automatically alerted following vehicles when an ABS stop was triggered.
All 2011 Ranger models had larger, 302mm front disc rotors with twin-piston callipers. Ford’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP) system that included four-wheel traction control, yaw control and roll-over mitigation was standard.
With Trailer Sway Mitigation the vehicle brakes were selectively applied to slow down and stabilise a ute/trailer combination.
On and off road
Our first drives in Rangers were done in some 2011 Australian launch vehicles, which were 3.2-litre XLT Double Cabs fitted with manual and automatic transmissions
Getting comfortable wasn’t a problem, thanks to the XLT’s adjustable driver’s seat and tilting steering wheel. However, some of the short-armed testers hankered for a telescopic column.
On bitumen and smooth gravel surfaces the Rangers rode and handled superbly, with noise levels that were almost car-like at cruising speeds. Only when the loud pedals were floored did engine noise intrude.
Rough surfaces stirred some leaf-spring reaction at the rear end, but the ride wasn’t harsh and dynamic stability and traction control preserved direction. We checked out gentle and emergency stopping power and were impressed with the Ranger’s pedal feel and stability under panic braking.
The six-speed auto was slick, with a manual override function that was easy to operate, once we adjusted to a forward movement for downshifts, not the more commonly used backward flick.
A light clutch with a vague friction point caught out some of the testers, but we found the manual gearbox very easy to use. That said, we preferred the auto, both on and off road. (The market subsequently had some reliability issues with the manual tranmsission an we suspect some of that had to do with abuse of the dual-mass flywheel fitted with the manual box.)
Steep, stony and dusty grades that were too steep to stand on proved to be no problem for the new Ranger that made a tidy job of conquering these quite demanding conditions. The 3.2-litre lugged happily down below 1000rpm, with no protest from engine or driveline.
The traction control system worked unobtrusively to control wheelspin and hill descent control was powerful, yet speed-variable by using the cruise control buttons.
The new Ford Ranger and its mechanically-similar Mazda BT-50 stable mate were obviously set for increased market share and such has proved to be the case.
2014 and 2015 upgradesIn April 2014 Ford introduced the Ranger 4x4 XL Plus series, in Single Cab Chassis, Double Cab Chassis and Double Cab Pick-up models. The manufacturer’s list price was $46,280 for the Single Cab Chassis, $51,760 for the Double Cab Chassis and $52,760 for the Double Cab Pick-up.
All came standard with Ford’s proven 3.2-litre turbo-diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This is a smart move by Ford, because by then the manual six-speed had come in for more than its fair share of criticism.
The Ranger 4x4 XL Plus was a purpose-built new vehicle with specifications and features that appealed to industry fleet buyers, including mining companies, government departments and organisations. The Ranger XL Plus also suited many OutbackTravel Australia site visitors.
Ranger 4x4 XL Plus standard features included: shields, mud flaps, 3,500kg tow bar, daytime running lights, running boards on Double Cabs, All-Terrain tyres (Continental 265/65 R17), canvas seat covers, expanded wiring harness and switch bezel, 80 amp-hour deep-cycle gel battery in a cargo-tray box, second battery isolator and moulded black bumpers. A steel 'roo bar was optional and fitment didn't affect a five-star NCAP safety rating.
Ford’s Courier, jointly mechanically-developed with Mazda, was given a fresh face for 1999 that aligned its appearance with that of the company’s US-built F-truck range. New wheel packages consisted of 16-inch on 4WD GL and 15-inch styled steel wheels with 235-section tyres on 4WD XL models.
Cabin space and appointments were improved on all models and a driver-side airbag option was introduced. The 2.5-litre Ford-Mazda intercooled turbo-diesel was then the most powerful diesel in a compact pickup, with 86kW at 3500rpm and 280Nm of torque at 2000rpm.
For 2003 the PG Courier received styling changes in the form of new grille, headlights, front bumper and front fenders. The top-of-the-range XLT models scored chrome on front and rear bumpers, door handles, tailgate handle and mirrors. A larger 265/70R15 tyre was standard on the 4WD XL and XLT vehicles.
Ford introduced a rear access system on the four-door Super Cab. Other new additions include optional two-tone exterior, two new colours – Amber and Spruce Green – and new alloy wheels. Inside, there were new fabrics, chrome door handles (XLT), an upgraded stereo system (with six-stack CD on XLT), engine immobiliser on crew cab turbo-diesel models and a keyless entry system. Ride quality was supposedly improved with revisions to the suspension componentry, but our testing showed little change to the harsh ride. However, twin-piston ventilated discs on the 4x4 XLT did improve fade resistance.
A new Super Cab 4x4 XLT was added to the range. Dual airbags and four-wheel ABS were optional on some 4x4 models. Pricing ranged from $28,890 for a 4WD Single Cab Chassis up to $42,560 for a 4WD diesel Super Cab Pickup XLT.
In January 2005, Ford announced the Courier V6 option across Super Cab and Crew Cab body styles and in GL and XLT specification levels.
The 4.0-litre SOHC V6 engine produced a class-leading 154kW of power at 5250rpm and 323Nm of torque at 3000rpm.
On automatic 4WD V6 models there was a ‘Shift on the Fly’ selector switch mounted on the centre console, which enabled actuation of the transfer case for shifting between 4x2 and 4x4 modes (2WD-4WD-4WD Low).
The system worked in conjunction with an electronic remote front wheel hub lock. Recommended retail pricing was $43,190 for the top of the range automatic 4WD XLT Crew Cab.
In March 2007 Ford released the Ranger, with new bodywork and a new 3.0-litre, four-cylinder Duratorq diesel engine, with output of 115kW of power at 3200rpm and peak torque of 380Nm at 1800rpm.
A variable geometry turbocharger reduced turbo lag and broadened the torque curve. The new powerplant was matched with a five-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic transmission. Ranger retained interior spaciousness and flexibility with a Single Cab, Crew Cab, Chassis Cab and the Super Cab, incorporating the innovative rear access system (RAS).
Ford Ranger’s more rigid chassis and tougher, more durable suspension may have improved strength and payload capacity, but ride quality continued to be a problem for the Ranger until the 2011 range was introduced. Pricing varied from $33,490 for a 4WD Single Cab Chassis XL up to $45,990 for a 4WD Crew Cab Pick Up XLT. Automatic transmission was a $2000 option.
The last upgrade of the first Ranger was in February 2009, with an exterior restyle that included a new $48,990 Wildtrak model.
« Go Back