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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor


WATCH: New Ford Ranger brings nuke to Mzansi’s bakkie war

Blue Ovals thrown down the gauntlet to arhcrivals the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara.


The Blue Oval has brought a nuke to the ongoing bakkie war in South Africa with the arrival of their new Ford Ranger.

This is genuine next-generation stuff. Minus VW’s new Amarok, which is now underpinned by the Ranger, and will officially only launch locally next year, the rest, from Isuzu’s D-Max to Nissan’s Navara, to Toyota’s Hilux, are now all comfortably behind the curve.

Watch new Ford Ranger from up close

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I am going to just say this as it is and get it out of the way, and then carry on with the new Ford Ranger. We all know that the Toyota execs won’t be having any emergency meetings. This is South Africa, and the Hilux badge will continue to top the sales charts regardless.

But from the digital instrumentation, infotainment system, onboard tech, safety, options lists, creature comforts to off-road ability matched to smooth shifting powerful engines; objectively in all these areas, the Ford Ranger is now the benchmark.

The new Ford Ranger model range offers updated versions of the proven 2.0-litre Single Turbo in the base, XL and XLT Double Cab variants. This configuration sees 125 kW and 405 Nm being available along with the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

At the launch, The Citizen Motoring got to sample the 154kW/500Nm 2.0-litre bi-turbo XLT with the 10-speed automatic and the 184kW/600Nm 3.0-litre V6 Turbodiesel in Wildtrak guise that runs the same box.

The new Ranger features an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase that is 50 mm longer and a track 50 mm wider.

Bi-turbo ups the ante

The rear suspension dampers have been shifted outboard of the frame rails to improve the on-road experience.

The front wheels have been moved forward by 50 mm for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation and this improves the off-roading experience.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak rides on 20-inch alloys.

We spent a full two days confirming these claims over a mix of high-speed tar and dirt and some ride up and down the side of a mountain macho 4×4 stuff.

On road the 3.0-litre V6 hauls like a steam train as expected, but the surprise for me was the Ford Ranger 2.0-litre biturbo.

Despite offering slightly less power (three kilowatts less) than before, it felt so much quicker than the previous model generation. And the recalibration of the 10-speed box that is now massively smoother, has transformed this derivative into the pick of the bunch for me.

Intelligent features

But it’s not all about brawn, there is a healthy dose of intelligence on offer in the new Ford Ranger too in the form of Blind Spot Information with trailer coverage, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping System with Road Edge Detection, Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Lane Centering, as well as Active Park Assist 2.0 to name only some of it.

ALSO READ: Toyota Hilux GR-S jumps gun on new VW Amarok and Ford Ranger

Moving off the black stuff and onto the dirt, you are equally well taken care by a choice of two four-wheel drive systems. Its either the electronic shift-on-the-fly system on the XLT, or the advanced full-time 4×4 system on the Wildtrak that still offers the traditional 2H, 4H and 4L modes as expected.

Terrain detection

The advanced part comes in the form of a new 4A mode that detects what is happening in terms of grip and terrain. It decides itself as to what must happen with the throttle and the distribution of the power and torque to wheels to help you go up that mountain I mentioned.

I will only touch on some of the other highlights of the Ford Ranger for me because I’ll run out of breath trying to cover it all.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The new Ford Ranger features a 12-inch vertical touchscreen.

Large 10.1 or 12-inch touchscreens dominate the interior and they are loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC 4A system. It offers voice-activation, touchscreen and a few very convenient dials for communications, entertainment and information systems. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, charging pads, multiple USB and 12V ports.

There are also clever storage areas to go with, must have, side steps behind the rear wheels to allow you easy access to the larger load box that can now carry a full-sized pallet and be configured in a multiple of different ways thanks to dividers if needed complete my quick summary.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Mahindra Pik Up is an old school cool bakkie

Conclusion

In wrapping up, something that is completely new and being introduced into the bakkie segment by Ford, is that the retail prices you see here are for the considerable standard configuration spec models.

If its choice you want and you have the budget, then unlike before where the model designation determined what you got end of story, now you can choose from multiple spec upgrade packages across the range.

Plus be tempted by over 200 factory-backed adventure, urban and commercial accessories for your new Ford Ranger at the time of order.

Ford Ranger double cab pricing

  • Ranger 2.0 SiT – R486 000
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT 4×4 – R528 600
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XL – R529 900
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XL 4×4 – R607 300
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XL AT – R544 400
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XL 4×4 AT – R621 900
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XLT AT – R592 700
  • Ranger 2.0 SiT XLT 4×4 AT – R669 800
  • Ranger 2.0 BiT XLT AT – R702 300
  • Ranger 2.0 BiT XLT 4×4 AT – R782 100
  • Ranger 2.0 BiT Wildtrak AT – R778 300
  • Ranger 2.0 BiT Wildtrak 4×4 AT – R867 700
  • Ranger 3.0 V6 Wildtrak 4WD AT – R953 500

Included as standard in the price of every new Ford Ranger is a four-year/120 000 km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty.

Customers have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 165 000 km, while the warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000 km and the Roadside Assistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.