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Thami Masemola
Date published: 07/08/2019
Tags: Ford; Ranger; XLT; Wildtrak; Launch
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New Ford Ranger Reviewed

Ford South Africa has launched the updated version of Mzansi’s favourite double-cab bakkie, the Ranger. Now built locally at the firm’s Silverton Plant in Pretoria, the Ranger has made some notable changes and improvements – inside, outside and under - that will surely keep it at the top of its segment, where it regularly sells over 2 000 units a month.

A quick walkabout reveals among others, the following changes: a redesigned front grille with more presence, where the best-selling XLT model has a divided grille now, and the Wildtrak has HID headlights and LED daytime running lights. The latter also has a more chiselled, wider lower bumper surface, larger fog lights, and a new Saber Orange paint colour.

Ford makes a special mention of the rear tailgate because of the innovation that the local engineering team has come up with. Called the EZ lift tailgate, it basically consists of a torsion rod that runs across, hinged to the body. This simple solution reduces initial lift force by up to 70%, meaning one doesn’t have to look like The Rock to lift it up. We tried it and it is so light you would think it is made of tin. Very convenient for small people or those who have to lift their tailgates frequently.

Ford has improved the cabin ambiance and comfort levels not just by improving the suspension system to make it more resistant to rough surfaces and therefore a better ride for passengers, but also by improving some build materials. Insulation devices have been installed to reduce exterior noises too, so occupants don’t hear too much of this. It feels more like an SUV than a bakkie now. Moreover, the towing capacity remains 3 500kg, while the load capacity is almost 1 200kg and the wading depth is a massive 800mm, thanks to the 230mm ground clearance.

Under the bonnet Ford has made more significant changes, including two new engines and a new gearbox. The 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo diesel units put the Ranger in the small-capacity/ high power segment of the market where it was previously not present. The single turbo produces 132kW of power and 420Nm of torque between 1 750rpm and 2 500rpm. At the same time the more powerful Bi-Turbo (two turbos) makes a hefty 157kW and a rather strong 500Nm of torque.

Says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa: “As the new 2.0 Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines are only available in four derivatives at launch, the Duratorq TDCi engines still power the remainder of the 33 models available in the New Ranger line-up, and we have many thousands of customers who have been truly delighted with the impressive all-round performance and durability of these units. In selected XLT and Wildtrak models, we are taking the unprecedented step of giving customers a choice of engines to suit their preferences and driving requirements.”

On top of that is the brand new 10-speed automatic transmission which is available exclusively with the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines. It really is quite smooth and seamless, almost always picking the right gear for the right driving situation. Most importantly it improves fuel consumption.

As previously stated, the interior also marks some upgrades. Ranger XLT and Wildtrak get the SYNC3 infotainment system with a 20.3cm touch screen as standard for one. If you have Waze you can project it directly on to the screen from your smart phone, while Apple Carplay and Android Auto users can also connect as per usual. SYNC3 comes with Voice control, which thankfully recognises a number of South African accents.

The safety package offered in the New Ranger is of the highest order. Depending on specification level, it incorporates a comprehensive Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system with Traction Control (TC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Adaptive Load Control (ALC) and Roll Over Mitigation (ROM).