Capable, comfortable and confident. All words that can be used to describe the Ford PX Ranger.
With two power plant options delivering 147kW and 470Nm of torque through a 3.2 litre, 5-cylinder diesel engine, or, 110kW and 375Nm from the 2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel, the Ranger is available in an option to suit most budgets.
Fuel economy of the two variants in a dual cab 4×4 configuration is around 8.9 and 9.2 litres per 100km for the manual and auto 3.2-litre, while the 2.2-litre is not much different at 8.1 and 9.4 litres per 100km. All models are fed from an 80-litre capacity tank. The bottom line in these fuel consumption figures being that if you are looking for an auto, go for the 3.2-litre engine.
And putting recommended retail pricing aside, shopping around will yield the superior 5-cylinder for a relatively small premium, one that will be easily recouped when it comes to resale in any case.
While the 6-speed manual is logically gated and paired to an appropriately weighted clutch, the 6-speed auto option is super smooth but will add around $2500 to the bottom line of a quote.
Gone are the days that serious 4-wheel drivers were limited to manual transmission options only. The gradual application of torque through the auto torque converter means that easing the Ranger out of loose gravel or mud is accomplished as effectively as any seasoned 4×4 guru could manage with a manual and a learned left foot. Hill descent control works well and is standard across the range.
For serious 4-wheel driving, only the Automatic XLS, XLT and Wildtrak models have a locking rear differential fitted as standard. Essential for extremely boggy conditions or sharp cross-dips, a rear-diff lock will get you out of trouble in most circumstances.
On the road the Ranger glides effortlessly down highways and is equally happy on other surfaces. The only criticism on the highway would be some road noise coming from the back of the cabin. But it has to be remembered that behind the cab is a tray capable of hauling well over a tonne in both pick-up and cab-chassis model variants and behind that, a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg.
The investment that Ford Australia has put into the suspension of the Ranger to match Australian conditions shines through, setting it aside from the Mazda BT50 which shares DNA with the Ranger.
Testing over 230km of gravel road at 110km/h the Ranger behaved impeccably allowing the driver to concentrate on the road ahead and not be distracted by any sign of understeer or oversteer.
In gravel and muddy undulating country, it didn’t miss a beat aside from a little rear side slip, most probably due to the relatively passive tyre patterned Bridgestones the Ranger is shod with.
Inside, the cab is very well finished and while the list of standard features even in the base model is impressive, the bulk of the model variances beyond alloy-wheels and chrome highlights reside in the level of cabin appointments.
Carpets are standard in the XLS and XLT models departing from the easy-to-clean, but industrial feeling vinyl. Topping the range, Wildtrak models see the introduction of grain leather into the seats with endurance fabric on the bolsters.
Cruise-control is standard across the range, as are power windows, USB / iPod integration, two 12v power outlets, integrated Bluetooth and 2 child seat upper anchorage points.
But luxuries like rain-sensing wipers, electrochromatic rear-view mirror and satellite navigation via a 5-inch colour multi-function display and an additional power outlet are reserved for the XLT model.
Air-conditioning is standard across the range with the XLT getting dual-zone climate control.
Headlights seem to have been an afterthought however. A test-drive into the night left drivers wishing for a decent set of spotlights to pierce the darkness ahead. Lighting on a base Falcon easily outperforms that coming from the Ranger.
Overall, if you are in the market for a 4-wheel drive, the Ranger has to be one on the list to take for a test drive. With 21 different model specifications and a couple of years since they were released, there are a few getting around with low mileage if looking to save some money. With the savings, consider buying yourself a set of driving lights.
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This review is an independent assessment of the Ford PX Ranger. Fleet Network have no obligation or alignment to Ford Australia.