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Drive Review: Ten out of ten for new (2019) Ford Ranger

People laughed at VW for building a 2-litre Amarok. Nobody will be doing the same to new Ford Ranger.

When you have too many choices, there is always an anxiety that perhaps, you have made the wrong one. This is exactly the issue with the new Ford Ranger.

The latest iteration of Ford’s immensely successful T6 platform, new Ford Ranger is not simply a facelifted bakkie with a redesigned grille, and some reposition LEDs (which, incidentally, it is – sort of). Hiding behind that new twin-bar grille and reshaped LED headlights, are deeply impressive new engine options.

In a bid to outpower Toyota’s Hilux, Ford has done the unusual by adding smaller engines to the Ranger model portfolio. The new engines are of a 2-litre turbodiesel architecture and available in two output grades. A bi-turbo version is the most powerful of these and at 157kW and 500Nm, it ranks as notably more potent than the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel, which remains available.

Making these new 2-litre engines even more effective in the Ford Ranger are ten-speed automatic gearboxes, gifting them unrivalled in-gear flexibility. People who live and breathe bakkie news will be aware that this 2-litre bi-turbo engine and ten-speed gearbox combination also powers Ranger Raptor, Ford’s ridiculous Kalahari Ferrari – which goes on sale in May.

The bi-turbo 2-litre is phenomenal. Not only is the 2-litre bi-turbo more powerful and efficient than the 3.2-litre five-cylinder, it is also 30kg lighter. By saving that weight at a crucial point, just above the front axle, Ford’s new 2-litre Rangers are less susceptible to dive during emergency braking and their turn-in is a touch sharper too.

Ford’s engineers have also changed the suspension configuration on Ranger’s front axle, where the anti-roll bar is now repositioned behind the double-wishbone linkage. The result? Better isolation of the lateral and vertical forces which influence suspension kinematics.

The Ford Ranger is also rated at a 3.5 towing capacity and there’s a clever torsion beam spring assisted tailgate mechanism, which requires 60% less effort to close – a tremendously useful feature to those who are continuously loading and unloading mountain bikes, braai wood or pets over a weekend.

There is a risk that some might be missing out on the best value Ford Ranger by fixating on owning one of the Wildtrak trim versions, which are powered by that Raptor bi-turbo engine. In a range of bakkies 33 derivatives are strong, there will always be a stealth hero and with new Ranger that bakkie is the 2-litre single turbo.  

A milder version of the 2-litre engine architecture, it boosts an entirely adequate 125kW and 420Nm. Importantly it also pairs with the ten-speed automatic and that allows for a tremendous spread of intermediate gear ratios.

Where both the single- and bi-turbo 2-litre Rangers really come into their own, is off-road. Those ten-speed automatic gearboxes also feature low-range reduction gearing, effectively giving you an amazing 20 forward gears. The ability of a 2-litre Ranger to idle up severely technical off-road trails without any lurching, due to the surplus of gears and impeccably throttle calibration, is remarkable.

Difficult choice, then? A Ford Ranger Wildtrak with additional features such as noise cancelling cabin acoustics and superior open-road cruising and overtaking ability, or the single-turbo 2-litre XLT, which does without the more comprehensive comfort and convenience features?

The defining feature of Ford’s updated Ranger is without the ten-speed gearbox and if you can have that at a R100k discount in an XLT, by sacrificing 25% engine power, it seams like a great deal. Then again, for those who wish to have the Raptor drivetrain without those Dakar rally specification suspension bits, a Wildtrak bi-turbo would be great too.

It appears that back in 2010, VW knew an evidential truth about where bakkies were going to trend, with 2-litre engines. Ford has now proven that intuition. Lance Branquinho

For more information on the range visit Ford South Africa

Specification

  • Ford Ranger Bi-Turbo Wildtrak double-cab 4×4
  • R678 200
  • 1996cc, 4cyl turbodiesel, AWD, 157kW, 500Nm, 10A,
  • 6.7l/100km, 177g/km CO2,
  • 2246kg
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