From zipping through the city streets to going on a safari, the Ford Ranger is an all-rounder like few others. Although it’s longer, taller and wider than the previous model, it’s surprisingly easy to handle. No more 10-point turns in narrow parking areas, thanks to a small turning circle and a responsive steering system.
Moving away from the typical bakkie look, the new Ranger has a more SUV-like nose and more streamline headlamps. Following the trend set by the Nissan Navara and Volkswagen’s Amarok, the Ford Ranger’s design is more sophisticated and SUV-like than its previous generation model.
In fact, if the Ford Ranger was a person, its personality could be best described as that of a woman who takes the lead without being bossy, one who makes an impression without having to be a bully, and who is trustworthy yet fun and always ready for a challenge.
You’re bound to get lots of attention in this car. People stare – not because they want to, but because they have to. The Ranger is no purring kitten. Its tough and noisy exterior is, however, matched by a surprisingly comfortable and quiet interior, more like that of a luxury SUV than your (stereo)typical bakkie. The build quality is faultless and the cab has a high-end feel to it.
If you’re a mom who wants the practicality of a larger car but don’t want to drive a car with zero personality, then a double cab could be just the thing for you – especially if you have a secret passion for bundu-bashing! There’s plenty of interior cabin space and a wide range of storage options for all your bits and pieces. With plenty of head and leg room in the back, the double cab Ford Ranger can comfortably seat a family of five. The backseats and load box (1.2m³) offers loads of space for your kids, all their gear and all your shopping. There’s even enough space to deliver that sofa yourself!
The adjustable seats are extremely comfortable and offer good support for your back. The armrests are shaped for maximum comfort and the cubbyhole can easily fit a large handbag. Even the door pockets have been modified to now hold a 1 litre water bottle.
The Ranger comes with all the bells and whistles you need. Some of the standard features include aircon, central locking, CD frontloader, auxiliary ports for MP3, and Bluetooth with voice control. The entertainment system blew us away (pardon the pun). While bakkies don’t usually come with decent sound systems, the Ranger’s six speakers allow you to drown out any outside noise. Not that there’s a lot of noise in the cabin: the Ranger offers a surprisingly quiet drive.
The gauge cluster neatly houses all the displays and an LCD screen shows the mileage and gear shifts. The guys (and girls) at Ford even thought of the greener drivers amongst us: to ensure optimal fuel consumption, a green arrow pops up on the LCD screen to tell you when to switch gears.
The Ranger’s fuel economy is not off-the-charts good – you can get about 10.4 litres per 100 km. With its 80 litre tank, however, trips to the petrol station are few and far between.
The Ranger behaves just as well on gravel as it does on tar (and sidewalks, if parking is a problem). The rear did sway a little in the turns and on very rough terrain, but for the most part we experienced a very comfortable drive. You can easily switch to 4×4, but if you don’t plan on going off road, stick to the front-wheel drive derivative.
The Ranger has a six-speed manual gearbox. Gear change isn’t all that smooth and takes a while to get used to, but it’s quick out of the blocks – there’s almost no lag from standing to start.
All in all it’s an extremely well-build chunk of metal. And a safe chunk at that. The new Ford Ranger was the first bakkie to be awarded a maximum of five stars in Euro-NCAP’s crash tests. It has no fewer than 7 airbags. So whether you’re considering safety, build quality, reliability, versatility or comfort, the Ford Ranger doesn’t put a tyre wrong.
* You can get the Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT double cab from R265 120. The price includes a four-year/ 120 000 km warranty and five-year/ 90 000 km service plan.