Ranger XLT proves how far pickups have come
Though the Ford Ranger XLT 2.0 Turbo DC 4x4’s all-new turbo two-litre engine is not as sophisticated as its biturbo twin under the bonnet of the latest 2.0Bi-Turbo Double Cab Hi-Rider Wildtrak 4x4, its performance on the road though still more than ample and in some respects even offers a challenge.
This new 10-speed auto 2-litre turbodiesel Ranger XLT is quick, assisted by Ford’s all-new made-in-PE 132kW 420Nm made-in-PE single turbo diesel, which of course is not the Ranger flagship. That honour belongs to its capable biturbo sibling. However, the single turbo version is not long way off and seemingly closer to its flagship twin turbo than its discounted selling price suggests, not that much differs in looks between the new top range Ford bakkies either, bar a few colour coordinations.
A high point is that this single turbo version also bets Ford’s all-new ten-speed auto box with its wider spread of ratios and intelligent tech. The 10-speed must be one of the smoothest changing gear boxes on the bakkie market. By the way, that includes real-time adaptive shift-scheduling for optimal gear changes for better performance, efficiency and refinement.
In fact, Ranger XLT is an eye-opener of note, allowing the downsized engine to operate with consummate ease, while also proving quite pleasing in its throttle and feel via the combined effects of the gearbox seamlessly engaging the ideal cog for your current speed and pedal position. Floor it and the box skips a few cogs down creating turbo-diesel power with the right gear ratio selected for best and quickest acceleration results.
The Ranger pulls secretly and strongly in top gear, dropping a gear-or-two as the inclines increase by shifting back up again to suit declining road levels – the latter always in almost effortless comfort, while sipping reduced fuel consumption that surpasses the old 3.2 levels.
Ford meanwhile leads the way in bakkie infotainment with SYNC technology and voice or touch control of all infotainment functions. Smartphone integration comes via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and you also get Waze real-time traffic and navigation services with Bluetooth voice control and audio streaming, too. Some of it’s a bit mind boggling to an octogenarian who learned to drive in the 1940s, but it does come to you and even I found myself understanding how all that learn tech works!
The Toyota Hilux's biggest sales rival, new Ranger brings significantly improved SUV-like ride via its new rear axle mounted anti-roll bar for improved roll control, softer front spring rates, lower tyre pressures and specific 4x4 damper rates that offer a further smoother ride, especially over those rougher road surfaces. Also fitted is directional stability to enhance ride over rutted or corrugated surfaces - especially when heavily laden and towing.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Ranger it’s quite astounding how far bakkies have come since I first drove those old Chevrolet Fleetside pickup trucks (they were not even called bakkies back then!) to building sites around the country — in fact that applies to all cars. We have come a hell of a long way on sixty-odd years… - Mario Lupini
Images - Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED — Ford Ranger XLT 2.0 Turbo DC 4x4
Engine: 132kW 420Nm 2.0 turbodiesel I4
Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4
ROAD TESTED: Coast (1500m ASL)
0-60km/h: 4.18 sec (5.01 sec)
0-100km/h: 10.08 sec (11.29 sec)
0-400m: 17.1 sec @ 128km/h (18.1 @ 124)
80-120km/h: 7.94ec (9.37 sec)
Service/Warranty: 4y 120Kkm/6y 90Kkm
LIST PRICE: R570K