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DRIVEN: New Ford Ranger goes higher-tech

2019-04-12 07:00

Calvin Fisher

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Image: Wheels24 / Calvin Fisher

We descended upon George in the Garden Route of the Western Cape for the launch of the 2019 Ford Ranger. 

Apart from an array of subtle visual, comfort and technological updates, the range also sees the introduction of the new 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. It is blown by a single turbo on the XLT derivative or doubly boosted via bi-turbo on the Wildtrak, the flagship model until the Raptor arrives in May. 

Whether you’ve opted for the 157kW/500Nm Wildtrak or the 132kW/420Nm XLT, both are served by a new ten-speed automatic gearbox, the first of its kind in a double cab. This makes for better power delivery and fuel economy (10% improved).

Another payoff is a towing capacity that has jumped up from 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes - a not inconsiderable leap.

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                                              Image: Calvin Fisher

Those updates

The Ford Ranger receives a new front grille and bumper, plus a jewelry update with LED fog lights and HID headlights now with integrated Daytime Running Lamps. The cabin is suitably darker, with the Wildtrak now getting the black leather treatment. Good, as this was the model I chose to drive on our 300km or so meander both on the asphalt and gravel network into the mountains where we even got to test its rock climbing prowess. 

We’ll get to its off-road ability just now, but first it’s worth noting the new SYNC 3 infotainment system on offer; now with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. You also have keyless entry and a Push to Start button with Ford’s new Smart Key.

Upgraded refinement further translates to a 5% reduced NVH (noice, vibration and harshness) helped along by Ford’s active noise control system. There’s a barrage of new tech here such as autonomous emergency braking for vehicles, as well as pedestrians, active park assist for parallel parking, lane keep assist, parking sensors and roll-over mitigation (part of the ESP System), with further roll stability control. 

READ: Ford Ranger updated, features new engines and 10-speed gearbox

But perhaps my favourite upgrade resides at the back with an ‘easy-lift’ tailgate that has been endowed with a torsion rod to give it a 70% reduction in lift force. Nifty. You can get yours in one of nine different colours including two new ones, Diffuse Silver and Blue Lightning. The Sabre Orange on the Wildtrak is also new, but exclusive to Wildtrak – yours with this engine for R678 200. 

Ford South Africa is aware of the fact that their workhorses, the single and super cab Rangers, need to be more competitive to take on the likes of the Hilux and so have also been given a host of updates, as well as favourable pricing.

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                                              Image: Wheels24 / Calvin Fisher

But how does it go?

The Ranger is a big car and feels like it on the road, as well as on the dirt with a weighted helm and a powertrain that swells rather than pounces. Still, it is an easy thing to live with and when I was eventually relegated to the XLT model can report that it too was up to the task of crushing hundreds of kilometres of tarmac and terrain with similar verve and zero discrimination, despite being short one turbo. 

When pointed to the tricky 4x4 section (the Outeniqua mountain range, specifically), the Rangers impressed with their tenacity. Stick it in 4L, feed it some throttle and steer it over pretty much anything along our route, no doubt made easier thanks to a tweaked suspension. 

Our pick of the litter, therefore, would have to be the Ford Ranger 2.0 Turbo XLT 10AT 4x4 at R570 200. At R100 000 less than the Wildtrak you sacrifice one turbo and some options, but lose almost nothing in ability, performance and technology. 

But then, ask us again once the Raptor arrives.

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                                              Image: Wheels24 / Calvin Fisher

Pricing:

Single Cab

2.2 TDCi Base 5MT 4x2 - R287 100

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x2 - R359 800

2.2 TDCi XL 6AT 4x2 - R372 300

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x4 - R411 400

2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4x2 - R390 900

2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4x4 - R449 200

3.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4x2 - R401 800

3.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4x4 - R460 100

SuperCab

2.2 TDCi Base 5MT 4x2 - R336 500

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x2 - R381 400

2.2 TDCi XL 6AT 4x2 - R393 800

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x4 - R429 300

2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4x2 - R426 400

2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4x4 - R472 400

3.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4x2 - R424 900

3.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4x4 - R480 900

3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4x4 - R568 600

Double Cab

2.2 TDCi Base 5MT 4x2 - R350 000

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x2 - R409 400

2.2 TDCi XL 6AT 4x2 - R428 800

2.2 TDCi XL 6MT 4x4 - R455 300

2.2 TDCi XL 6AT 4x4 - R474 700

2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4x2 - R455 100

2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4x4 - R508 400

2.0 SiT XLT 10AT 4x2 - R514 300

2.0 SiT XLT 10AT 4x4 - R570 200

3.2 TDCi XLT 6MT 4x2 - R542 600

3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4x2 - R571 400

3.2 TDCi XLT 6MT 4x4 - R604 800

3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4x4 - R617 300

3.2 TDCi Wildtrak 6AT 4x2 - R609 800

2.0 BiT Wildtrak 10AT 4x2 - R632 300

2.0 BiT Wildtrak 10AT 4x4 - R678 200

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year or 120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year or unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year or unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

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                                              Image: Calvin Fisher

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