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Powerful and with engine and transmission options, the Ranger models are causing Toyota much worry.


The Ranger Mk II model was released in August 2015 and updated every year since.  The 2022 model was previewed in late 2021.



In late November 2021 Ford previewed the forthcoming 2022MY Ranger. Billed as ‘all new’, of course it isn’t. The preview release material was also very light on detail.

The Next-Generation Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia and the new ute has been put through one of the most exhaustive global testing schedules Ford has developed.

Let’s hope that testing produced better results than last time, when the Ranger was plagued by engine and transmission problems. 



Speaking of the Ranger powertrain, the current two-litre diesel that’s shared with the Ford Transit remains for 2022, in single or twin-turbo guises and the old Land Rover, three-litre V6 turbo-diesel replaces the Ford-Mazda 3.2-litre, five-cylinder diesel that’s now discontinued. 

The V6 started life as a 2.7-litre Land Rover/Peugeot diesel that powered the 2004 Discovery 3. Later, when Ford owned Jaguar Land Rover, that engine powered the Ford Territory, before being enlarged to three-litre capacity for later Discoverys.

Ranger transmissions for 2022MY include Ford’s upgraded 10-speed and six-speed automatics.



The latest version of the Ranger platform has a wheelbase that’s 50mm longer, because the front wheels have been moved forward by that much, to improve the approach angle. The front and rear wheel tracks have also been increased by 50mm, allowing for a larger engine bay, outboard rear shock absorbers and a wider cargo tub.

The larger engine bay provides more room for a hybrid electric powertrain, but there was no indication when that might arrive Down Under.

We suspect the wider tub was dictated by VW, which shares the Ranger platform from 2022 onwards and obviously wants to maintain the current Amarok’s pallet-accommodating cargo area.

Customer input was key to developing the Ranger’s new look, Ford claimed. The company conducted more than 5000 interviews and dozens of customer workshops, to understand how customers used their utes and what they expected in the Next-Generation Ranger.

One input from that forum has been a footstep integrated into each rear lower panel, to improve access to the tub.

For the first time, Ford Ranger has LED headlights and some versions get a variable-high-beam function.

The existing electronic shift-on-the-fly, part-time 4WD system is retained for most Ranger 2022MY models, but a full-time 4×4 system is available as well. We suspect that’s another VW initiative, because it’s been a feature of some Amarok models for years.



The Ranger interior is dominated by a large 255mm (10.1-inch) or 300mm (12-inch) touchscreen in the centre stack. It complements a fully digital instrument panel and is loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC4 system, with voice-activated communications, entertainment and information. 

Additionally, there’s a factory-fitted modem, allowing connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPass™ app, so customers can stay connected. FordPass incorporates Remote Start, Vehicle Status Check and Remote Lock and Unlock functions, via a mobile device.

Many controls have been moved from the dash and centre console to displays on the SYNC4 screen.

The screen is linked to a 360-degree camera on some model grades. There’s also an exterior, LED zone-lighting system and under-rail tub lighting on some models.



A short-throw ‘e-shifter’ is another example of where customers guided Ford’s decision making. Customers overwhelmingly liked that it looked higher-tech and was intuitive to use.

The interior design includes places to store and charge phones wirelessly and a large centre console. The door pockets are larger, the wide dash conceals an upper glovebox and there are storage bins under and behind the rear seats. 

The cargo tub has more tie-down points and a structural cap rail for easier canopy attachment. There’s also a long-overdue cargo management system, with rails and dividers to hold different-sized items. The tailgate can double as a work bench, thanks to integrated clamp pockets.



The stock Ranger is supplemented by a range of up to 600 factory-backed work, urban and adventure accessories, including those developed in collaboration with ARB and are backed by Ford’s New Vehicle Warranty of up to five years / unlimited kilometres.

We’ll have more details, including pricing, on the 2022MY Ranger nearer to its mid-2022 Australian launch.


2022 Ford Ranger Raptor



The Ranger Raptor is the performance derivative of the Next-Gen Ranger and is available in the USA as well as Australia. That’s why the powerplant is  a 3.0-litre, V6, Twin Turbo EcoBoost petrol engine, producing up to 292kW (392hp) at 5650rpm and 583Nm of torque at 3500rpm.

This engine provides a huge boost in power and torque over the current 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine, but obviously uses more fuel. However, the Raptor is unashamedly aimed at the performance-ute market and US buyers don’t want diesel in this segment.

Another clue that this engine is aimed at the US market’s good ol’ boys and their Australian counterparts is Raptor’s ‘Baja2’ anti-lag system that keeps the turbochargers spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle, allowing for faster acceleration out of corners or between gears.



The final necessity is an electronically controlled, active-valve exhaust system that amplifies the engine note in four selectable drive modes – quiet, normal, sport and ‘Baja2’. Drivers can choose their preferred engine sounds by pressing a button on the steering wheel, or by selecting a different drive mode.

The Next-Gen Ranger Raptor has chassis reinforcements for the C-pillar, cargo tub and spare wheel, as well as unique suspension brackets, lightweight aluminium upper and lower front control arms, long-travel front and rear coil suspension and refined Watt’s-linkage on the rear axle.

Fox 50mm, live valve internal bypass shock absorbers, with friction-reducing Teflon-infused oil are standard.

Fox’s race-proved Bottom-Out Control provides maximum damping force in the last 25-percent of shock travel and the system can stiffen the rear dampers to prevent Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration.

Ranger Raptor’s underbody protection is made from 2.3mm-thick high-strength steel and twin tow hooks are fitted front and rear.

For the first time, Ranger Raptor gets selectable full-time four-wheel drive, via an electronically controlled, on-demand two-speed transfer case and front and rear locking differentials are standard. 

Different off-bitumen drive modes are provided, including automatic speed control.

The Raptor’s matrix LED headlamps feature auto dynamic levelling and deliver speed-dependent lighting.

Two 17-inch wheel designs are available – one with beadlock capability – and both are shod with BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tyres. 



The interior features sports seats front and rear, ambient lighting, leather sports steering wheel and cast magnesium paddle shifters.

A high resolution 12.4-inch digital cluster and 12-inch centre touchscreen incorporate Ford’s SYNC 4A connectivity and entertainment system, which offers both Apple and Android wireless smartphone connectivity. Compatible smartphones can be wirelessly charged via a pad at the base of the centre console. A Bang & Olufsen sound system provides the soundtrack.

We’ll have more information on pricing, plus driving impressions, nearer the mid-2022 release date for both Ranger and Raptor.


Pre-2022 Ranger model history


ford ranger mk2Ford made no secret of the fact that it wanted the HiLux’s traditional ute-market-leading position and it did just that in 2017, eclipsing the HiLux’s sales for the first time.

Toyota pinned its hopes on the post-2016 HiLux to stem the competitive advance, but on paper, the new Toyota didn’t match some of the offerings from its competitors: particularly the well-equipped Ranger MkII.

The PX Ranger MkII retained its four and five cylinder diesel powertrains, although it was interesting to note that there were only two manual-transmission vehicles in Ford’s press-release fleet of a dozen machines. The manual six-speed didn’t have a happy introduction to the Australian market, with some early dramas. The MkII manual box came with a new cable-shift mechanism.

The Ranger MkII continued with a towing capacity of up to 3500kg and wading depth of up to 800mm.

ford ranger mk2Obvious changes to the MkII model were restyled frontal appearance, with new fenders, bonnet, bumper and trapezoidal grille. The headlamps were higher-mounted and there was a brush guard incorporated in the bumper design.

The PX Ranger MkII featured soft-touch materials and a new instrument cluster and centre panel.

Much development work was put into making the Ranger interior quieter with improved levels of noise, vibration and harshness. Fluid-filled engine mounts replaced solid rubber ones, for better vibration isolation.

An electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system replaced the previous hydraulic power steering box and provided varying degrees of assistance, based on speed, steering wheel angle, cornering forces and acceleration or deceleration.

By eliminating the power steering pump used in a traditional power-steering system, EPAS also resulted in a quieter vehicle and reduced fuel consumption by up to three percent.

Other new features included tyre pressure monitoring, an adjustable speed limiter, auto Stop/Start on manual transmission models and a 230V inverter on Double and Super Cab models.

The post-2015 model range continued with XL, XL Plus, XLS, XLT and Wildtrak equipment grades and pricing ran from the entry-level 4×2 Single Cab Chassis 2.2-litre TDCi model’s $27,390 up to the range-topping 4×4 Wildtrak Double Cab Pick-up 3.2-litre TDCi model’s $60,090.

As with the first PX model, Australia’s Product Development and Broadmeadows-based Design Centre led the design and development of the MkII.

The Ranger MkII was powered by the latest-generation 3.2-litre TDCi engine that delivered 147kW and 470Nm, or the 2.2-litre TDCi engine that delivered 118kW and 385Nm. Both engines were available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Emergency Assistance was available across the range: designed to deliver critical information directly to 000 operators, indicating that the vehicle has been involved in an accident. The system advises the vehicle’s GPS location before opening the line for hands-free communication with the vehicle occupants.

Emergency Assistance uses the driver’s own paired mobile phone if it’s within mobile phone range.

Importantly for customers, SYNC2 with Emergency Assistance has no additional contracts or subscriptions to maintain the service. It’s free for the life of the vehicle.


What you got

ford ranger mk2Ranger XL models came with a driver-actuated rear-axle differential lock, as did all 4×4 versions in all grades.

XL 4x4s came in all cab styles, with a choice of 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre engines. There were also XL Plus models in Single Cab and Double Cab configurations.

XLs had 16-inch steel wheels; bucket seats with a driver’s manual-adjust seat that has lumbar support; auto headlamps; air conditioning; vinyl floor mats; 230V inverter in Double and Super Cabs; Bluetooth AM/FM stereo radio /MP3 CD player with voice control; USB/iPod integration; 4.2-inch colour multi-function display; SYNC1; alarm with perimeter, interior motion and vehicle movement sensors and cruise control with steering wheel mounted buttons.

Ranger XL Plus added: 17-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tyres; daytime running lamps; plastic side steps; an expanded wiring harness with four-switch auxiliary bezel and a second battery

The two XLS 4×4 models were both Double Cab utes with 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre engines and had all XL equipment, plus 16-inch aluminium wheels; front fog lamps and carpet with front floor mats

The four Ranger XLT models were 3.2-litre Super Cab or Double Cab utes with 4×2 High Ride or 4×4 drivelines.

Each had XLS features plus: 17-inch aluminium wheels; towbar; chrome exterior trim; plastic side steps with bright inserts; sports bar with load box illumination; privacy glass; steel rear step bumper; power-fold mirrors; projector headlamps; auto wipers; dual colour 4.2-inch cluster screens; dual-zone climate control; cooled console; leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob; electro-chromatic rear view mirror; SD card slot; eight-inch colour touch screen; satellite navigation with traffic management channel; SYNC 2; DAB radio; mobile WiFi hotspot; tyre pressure monitoring; rear park assist and a bedliner with 12V socket.

An optional Tech Pack included: reverse camera; adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert; driver impairment monitor; lane keep assist and lane departure warning.

The single Ranger Wildtrak model was a Double Cab ute that had XLT features plus: 18-inch aluminium wheels; plastic side steps with brushed inserts; Wildtrak sports bar; chromed rear step bumper; puddle lamps; eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment with lumbar support; heated, leather front seats; front and rear floor mats; ambient lighting; front park assist; reverse camera and a roller shutter tray cover.

The Tech Pack option for the XLT could be added to the Wildtrak.

With the Ranger’s 3200kg GVM for most models and all tare weights under the two-tonne mark, theoretical payloads were at least one-tonne, across the range.

Mid-2016 updates included rear view camera and reverse parking sensors as standard across the entire 2017 Ranger pick-up range (excluding XL Plus).

The XLT received front parking sensors as standard, while the 4X4 XL Super Cab Chassis 3.2L is  available with an automatic transmission.

2017 Ranger XLT and Wildtrak had SYNC 3, Ford’s in-vehicle communications and entertainment platform, featuring Apple CarPlay®, Android AutoTM, faster
performance, more conversational voice recognition, intuitive smartphone-like touchscreen and an improved graphic user interface.

2017 Wildtrak had standard driver assist technologies, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert, Driver Impairment Monitor, automatic high beam control, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning.


2019 upgrades

A series-turbo two-litre diesel was announced in May 2018 as the 2019 powerplant for XLT and Wildtrak models. This engine has been used for some time to power the Ford Transit van range.

A fixed-geometry turbocharger was employed to deliver greater throttle response and eliminate lag by spooling up quickly at low speeds. The secondary turbocharger featured variable geometry to deliver performance gains and smoothness at higher speeds.

The new-generation Bi-Turbo diesel developed a claimed 157kW at 3750rpm, with peak torque of 500Nm from 1750rpm. It was coupled to an advanced 10-speed
torque-convertor automatic transmission.

Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist usingAutonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Vehicle Detection and Pedestrian Detection was made optional on XLT and standard on Wildtrak.

Traffic Sign Recognition, as part of the Tech Pack on XLT and standard on Wildtrak, was designed to identify speed signs and an icon of the speed sign appeared on the instrument cluster and changed every time it detected a new limit.

Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning remained as options on XLT and standard on Wildtrak.

Active Park Assist (APA) was optional on XLT and standard on Wildtrak, enabling semi-automatic parallel parking, where the driver needed only to apply power and brakes, as the system steered the Ranger into a suitable parking space.

Ranger Wildtrak and XLT boasted LED daytime running lights and HID headlights.

An easy-lift tailgate was fitted to all Ranger ute models, with a 70-per cent reduction in initial force required to raise it.

Passive Entry/Passive Start (PEPS) keyless entry and push-button start were made standard on XLT and Wildtrak, and optional on XLS models.

SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility continued as standard on XLT and Wildtrak and were optional on XLS, with Bluetooth, an 8.0-inch full colour touchscreen and reversing camera. SYNC 3 enabled use of Google Maps, Apple Maps as well as standard in-built sat-nav for when the Ranger was beyond mobile coverage areas. The mapping system also featured a ‘breadcrumb’ feature, allowing an unmarked off-road route, for instance, to be mapped as it was traversed.

SYNC 3 also included Emergency Assistance as standard. Emergency Assistance uses the Ranger’s Bluetooth phone connection to automatically call emergency services in the event of a serious road-traffic collision.

In addition, MY19 Ranger models with SYNC 3 received complementary map updates for up to seven years when a scheduled service was completed at a participating

Any Ranger delivered after May 1, 2018, received a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, as standard.

For MY19, the Ranger’s suspension was upgraded across the range to reduce body roll, with an emphasis on improving the driving experience when fully-laden and when towing.

In April 2019 driver assist technology was made standard on every Ford Ranger. The package included AEB with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Aid with Driver Alert System, Traffic Sign Recognition and Auto High Beam.


2020 upgrades

In late 2020 Ford introduced the Ranger FX4 Max, with features including off-road suspension with Fox 50mm monotube, remote-reservoir shocks and 265/70R17 BFG KO2 all-terrain tyres. The FX4 Max was launched with grey or white paintwork, metal ‘hoop’ sidesteps, unique alloy wheels and full-length sports bar.

The 20mm suspension lift and BFG tyres took FX4 Max’s ride height 31mm above Ranger XLT, with greater approach and departure angles.

Shared with the Ranger Raptor, the Max had Ford’s 157kW/500Nm two-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford claimed 981kg payload and 3500kg towing capability. 

The interior had all-weather floor mats and FX4 Max-specific seating, sports pedals and leather-wrap steering wheel. Centrally positioned above the 320-mm touchscreen – with built-in satellite-navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – were six auxiliary switches for after-market equipment, such as driving lights and winches.

The FX4 Max was fitted with a 250-amp alternator to provide power for multiple accessories.

Building on the Ranger FX4, the FX4 Max featured AEB with Pedestrian Detection; FordPass Connect embedded modem; dual-zone climate control;  Lane Keep Assist and high resolution reversing camera. 

Pricing at launch was $65,940, with an $800 Tech Pack option: adaptive cruise control and semi-auto active park assistance.


2021 upgrades



Previously a key component of the optional Tech Pack, Adaptive Cruise Control was made standard on the updated Ranger XLT 4×4 Super Cab, Double Cab and Cab Chassis variants. 

Ford made the 157kW/500Nm 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel and 10-speed automatic transmission available as an option on three 4×4 XL variants: Super Cab Chassis; Double Cab Chassis and Double Pick Up.

In addition to SYNC 3i with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, standard on every new Ford Ranger was the FordPass Connect embedded modem.

When paired with the FordPass App, FordPass Connect unlocked a range of new connected services including remote locking/unlocking, vehicle status updates and remote vehicle start.

The work-ready Ranger XL 4×4 Heavy Duty Special Edition Double Cab Chassis model was released, with a factory-fitted steel bull bar that was crash-tested for compatibility with vehicle safety systems, including automatic emergency braking with Pedestrian Detection.

The bar also featured integrated mounting points for driving lights and antennae, and was fitted with an LED light bar. 

A fixed-head snorkel; black side steps; rear-view camera; black-finished 17 x 7.5-inch steel wheels with Continental CrossContact all-terrain tyres; thicker rear springs and new front and rear dampers round out the Special Edition equipment. 


US model announced in 2018 

In early 2018 Ford USA announced the mid-2018 launch of the Australian-developed Ranger pick up in North America. The ‘Ranger’ nameplate had been absent from the US market for five years, but was reintroduced to meet the perceived need for a somewhat downsized pick up from the F-150 size.

However, the Australian-market 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel or two-litre bi-turbo diesel are not part of the specification, mainly because of the infamous ‘dieselgate’ scandal following VW’s emissions-cheating exercise. Diesels aren’t popular in the USA, in other than large pick ups.

The US Ranger is powered by the 2.3-litre version of the EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine that debuted in the 2015 Lincoln MKC crossover and was seen here in Falcons.

The 2.3-L engine normally produces 213kW (285 hp) at 5500rpm, with 414Nm of torque at 2750rpm, but in the Ford Mustang EcoBoost it has 231kW (310hp) at 5500 rpm, with 434Nm of torque at 3000 rpm.

The standard transmission is Ford’s 10-speed automatic box.


Raptor release in mid-2018

In February 2018, in Thailand, Ford
previewed the Raptor derivative that was a second-quarter 2018 release Down Under.

The Raptor is designed for higher-speed off-road driving and has reduced payload and towing capacity.  A two-speed transfer case and rear diff lock remain, as does the part-time 4WD system.

The 10-speed Ford auto box is standard, coupled to a twin-turbo, two-litre diesel, with output of 157kW (213hp) and 500Nm of torque.

The Raptor is a crew-cab model only and rides on raised suspension, with Fox Racing Shox dampers all around. The rear leaf springs have been replaced by coil springs and the rear axle is located by a Watts linkage. This linkage provides more precise axle control than a Panhard rod.

Ranger Raptor comes with all the available Ranger ‘fruit’ and a Terrain Management System (TMS) offering six modes for various driving experiences, which can be selected via a five-button switch located on the steering wheel.

Ford has set the Raptor pricing at a heady 75 grand, so we borrowed a test vehicle in late 2018 to see if it merited the Big Spend.

Performance was strong, but not earth-shattering from a standing start, in comparison with the acceleration provided by the similarly-priced RAM 1500’s petrol V8. However the Raptor’s point-to-point performance was excellent, thanks to race-bred suspension and 10 available transmission ratios. The seats hugged the driver and front passenger through the twisty bits, but the electric steering could have done with a faster ratio, we reckon, to reduce the turns lock-to-lock.

Towing capacity was reduced by the fitment of a coil-sprung rear end; down to 2500kg, compared with the Ranger’s 3500kg. That made the Raptor ideal for towing a camper trailer or mid-sized caravan with ball weight around the 150kg mark. A downside of the small capacity diesel when towing was zero engine braking, unlike the RAM V8’s strong retardation.

Four-ventilated-disc-braking was very impressive.

Off-road ability wasn’t compromised by all the ‘fruit’, other than by the cast aluminium, grit-finished side steps that could be removed for serious bush work. The BFG A/T KO2 rubber was more than up to the task.

Is the Raptor worth the money? It depends on your intended use, we think. It’s the only high-performance ute out of the box that doesn’t need any additional equipment and it’s possible to spend upwards of 15 grand bringing a lesser ute up to this level, so if you need and appreciate all the extras, go for it.

However, we reckon the Raptor should have full-time or selectable full-time 4WD, for more sure-footed power delivery on loose and slippery surfaces.


Tow test – 2019 models 

We evaluated the two different powertrains (five-cylinder, single-turbo 3.2-litre plus six-speed auto and four-cylinder, twin-turbo two-litre plus 10-speed auto) towing 1600kg Sherpa camper trailer and with 200kg payload in each vehicle. We used the same road, same driver and same climatic conditions – Southern Highlands NSW winter – to compare apples with apples.

It was immediately obvious that the multi-speed box behind the two-litre kept engine revs at a low level and with almost imperceptible shifts.

Progress over our undulating test course was smooth and the combination had no problem maintaining legal maximum road speeds, even on grades.

The only downside we could discern was virtually no engine braking on descents, even with the transmission flicked down manually to the lower

Economy worked out at a creditable 11.9L/100km on the fuel flow meter, so, allowing for speedo error of five percent we reckon real-world economy towing this weight was 12.5L/100km.

We’ve read reports that say the two-litre/10-speed combo shifts gears too much… really! That’s precisely what it’s supposed do, to keep engine revs optimised and as constant as possible. Modern heavy trucks have 12-18-speed automated transmissions for exactly the same reason.

The five-cylinder engine had grunt similar to the two-litre’s, but with only six ratios in the box had more rise and fall in engine revs. As a result, it used more fuel, averaging 13.1L/100km on the fuel flow meter, or 13.8L/100km in the real world. Its larger displacement gave slightly more engine braking, but neither powerplant could match an old-fashioned 4.2-litre diesel’s downhill retardation.

A loss of engine braking power is common in all modern diesels that have small displacements, moderate compression ratios and high turbocharger boost.

Our conclusion was that the two-litre, twin-turbo with 10-speed box was a better towing powertrain, at least at the weight we evaluated.

On and off road – 2016 models

ford ranger mkIIFord put on an excellent on and off road driving program for the release of the 2016 Ranger, athough the emphasis was on Double Cab and extended Super Cab models with automatic transmissions.

The chief program engineer for the Ranger upgrade program, Ian Foston, pointed out that his mission was to enhance the product, without departing in any way from its proved market strengths. His main target areas were in-cabin noise reduction and further suspension refinement.

Our first driving impressions indicate that he suceeded on both counts. The unladen test vehicles had well-controlled suspension action and flat handling. We checked out loaded behaviour in a five-ute comparison.

ford ranger mkIIThe launch program did include a short tow test, with a ‘Dirty Harry’ Elite off-road caravan coupled to a Ranger Wildtrak. The Ranger 3.2 hauled the 2.5-tonnes van up a steep, gravel slope without any trouble an it cruised happily at legal speeds.

This particular caravan had a long drawbar that caused unnecessarily high ball weight, around 250kg and that sat the rear springs down on the helper leaves.

Ball weights around 100kg shouldn’t worry the new Ranger, but high ball weights will need compensation in the form of weight distribution bars.

The new model’s all-electric steering is lighter and quieter in action than the previous hydraulic power assisted system, but road feel is very good.

Our biggest complaint with the Ranger is the driver control design and layout. Some lunatic design engineer was been let loose redesigning things that didn’t need it. The switches and knobs are difficult to identify and awkward to use.

We found the auto gear selector a pain, although the new manual stick is much better to to operate.

Previous models

The prevous-shape, pre-2011 Ford Ranger had part of the required package for market share improvement, boasting the most potent four-cylinder diesel engine in the ute class.

However, it powered re-skinned bodywork that was tad on the small side and the chassis had a torsion-bar suspended front end that didn’t provide optimum handling in concert with an over-stiff set of rear leaves.

It wasn’t a bad package for a ute, but Ford knew that more would be required: more people space and cargo volume; more refinement, more performance and more presence.

As with the outgoing model the post-2011 Ranger was based around three cab styles: Single, Double Cab and Super (with forward-opening rear doors and no obstructive B-pillar).

All models were longer, wider and higher than before, with no carry-over components from the previous range. A new box-section ladder frame that was taller, wider and thicker than before mounted a double-wishbone, coil-sprung front end with rack and pinion steering.

An underslung rear axle design with bias-mounted shock absorbers continued, but with longer springs and stronger brackets and shackles. A brand new five-cylinder, turbo-intercooled diesel was developed and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions were offered.

The 3.2-litre five-cylinder produced claimed maximum power of 147kW at 3000rpm, with peak torque of 470Nm in the 1750-2500rpm band. Claimed fuel consumption was 8.9L/100km.

A four-cylinder, 2.2-litre engine was available on the Single Cab manual transmission cab/chassis model.

Output was a claimed 110kW at 3700rpm, with peak torque of 375Nm at 1500-2500rpm. 

More grunt, improved chassis dynamics and car-level electronic aids ensured that the new Ranger easily outperformed and out-handled its predecessor.

Standard kit included ABS with disc/drum EBD brakes; traction control; dynamic stability control; emergency brake assist and hill start assist; shift-on-the-fly 4WD selection; dial-selectable low range gearing; hill descent control and a lockable rear differential. The dynamic stability control system incorporated roll stability control, trailer sway control and adapted to suit different payloads.

Incidentally, drum rear brakes were retained because they provided a more powerful parking brake than the tiny drum-in-disc units fitted to 4WD wagons.

Three equipment levels were offered at launch: XL, XLT and Wildtrak.

XL was far from being a ‘poverty pack’, with aircon; power windows and mirrors; remote central locking; Bluetooth; steering wheel cruise control and audio controls; trip computer; auto lights function; USB input; six speakers in all but Single Cabs and front and curtain airbags.

In March 2013 Ford introduced the XLS spec’ level – a tricked-up XL aimed at private and small business customers. The new addition to the Ranger lineup had a manufacturer’s list price of $48,090.

The XLS was based on the 4×4 XL Double Cab Pick-Up 3.2-litre model, with six-speed manual transmission and was intended to bridge the price gap between entry level XL and loaded XLT. The XLS came with locking rear differential, 16-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, carpeted floor and additional exterior trim highlights.

XLTs scored carpet; front fog lamps; dual-zone aircon; chromed side steps and rear step bumper; ambient temperature gauge; leather wrapped knob and steering wheel; locking rear diff; height and lumbar adjustable driver’s seat and tubular sports bar with high-mount stop light.

The Wildtrak was a Double Cab Ute model with XLT features plus leather seat trim, sports bars; satnav; rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Ford received an NCAP rating of five stars for all variants.

The part-time 4WD system had an electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case.

A new chassis allowed a longer, 3220-millimetre wheelbase and wider track of 1560mm. Measuring 1549mm long, 511mm high and with a maximum cargo width of 1560mm, the cargo box of the double cab was more than 100mm wider than the pre-2011 model’s.

Width between the wheel arches was 1139mm on all ute models and there were ‘mezzanine-floor’ support pockets in the cargo box sides that allowed plywood or plaster board to be laid in flat sheets on a false floor.

Up front, the suspension was a new coil-over-strut, double wishbone suspension and rack and pinion steering is fitted. The back end has traditional ute leaf springs.

The brake system included Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist to provide maximum boost for the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). Flashing hazard lights automatically alerted following vehicles when an ABS stop was triggered.

All 2011 Ranger models had larger, 302mm front disc rotors with twin-piston callipers. Ford’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP) system that included four-wheel traction control, yaw control and roll-over mitigation was standard.

With Trailer Sway Mitigation the vehicle brakes were selectively applied to slow down and stabilise a ute/trailer combination.


On and off road

Our first drives in Rangers were done in some 2011 Australian launch vehicles, which were 3.2-litre XLT Double Cabs fitted with manual and automatic transmissions

Getting comfortable wasn’t a problem, thanks to the XLT’s adjustable driver’s seat and tilting steering wheel. However, some of the short-armed testers hankered for a telescopic column.

On bitumen and smooth gravel surfaces the Rangers rode and handled superbly, with noise levels that were almost car-like at cruising speeds. Only when the loud pedals were floored did engine noise intrude.

Rough surfaces stirred some leaf-spring reaction at the rear end, but the ride wasn’t harsh and dynamic stability and traction control preserved direction. We checked out gentle and emergency stopping power and were impressed with the Ranger’s pedal feel and stability under panic braking.

The six-speed auto was slick, with a manual override function that was easy to operate, once we adjusted to a forward movement for downshifts, not the more commonly used backward flick.

A light clutch with a vague friction point caught out some of the testers, but we found the manual gearbox very easy to use. That said, we preferred the auto, both on and off road. (The market subsequently had some reliability issues with the manual tranmsission an we suspect some of that had to do with abuse of the dual-mass flywheel fitted with the manual box.)

Steep, stony and dusty grades that were too steep to stand on proved to be no problem for the new Ranger that made a tidy job of conquering these quite demanding conditions. The 3.2-litre lugged happily down below 1000rpm, with no protest from engine or driveline.

The traction control system worked unobtrusively to control wheelspin and hill descent control was powerful, yet speed-variable by using the cruise control buttons.

The new Ford Ranger and its mechanically-similar Mazda BT-50 stable mate were obviously set for increased market share and such has proved to be the case.


2014 and 2015 upgrades

In April 2014 Ford  introduced the Ranger 4×4 XL Plus series, in Single Cab Chassis, Double Cab Chassis and Double Cab Pick-up models. The manufacturer’s list price was $46,280 for the Single Cab Chassis, $51,760 for the Double Cab Chassis and $52,760 for the Double Cab Pick-up.

All came standard with Ford’s proven 3.2-litre turbo-diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This is a smart move by Ford, because by then the manual six-speed had come in for more than its fair share of criticism.

The Ranger 4×4 XL Plus was a purpose-built new vehicle with specifications and features that appealed to industry fleet buyers, including mining companies, government departments and organisations. The Ranger XL Plus also suited many OutbackTravel Australia site visitors.

Ranger 4×4 XL Plus standard features included:  shields, mud flaps, 3,500kg tow bar, daytime running lights, running boards on Double Cabs, All-Terrain tyres (Continental 265/65 R17), canvas seat covers, expanded wiring harness and switch bezel, 80 amp-hour deep-cycle gel battery in a cargo-tray box, second battery isolator and moulded black bumpers. A steel ‘roo bar was optional and fitment didn’t affect a five-star NCAP safety rating.


Pre-2010 models

Ford’s Courier, jointly mechanically-developed with Mazda, was given a fresh face for 1999 that aligned its appearance with that of the company’s US-built F-truck range.  New wheel packages consisted of 16-inch on 4WD GL and 15-inch styled steel wheels with 235-section tyres on 4WD XL models.

Cabin space and appointments were improved on all models and a driver-side airbag option was introduced.  The 2.5-litre Ford-Mazda intercooled turbo-diesel was then the most powerful diesel in a compact pickup, with 86kW at 3500rpm and 280Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

For 2003 the PG Courier received styling changes in the form of new grille, headlights, front bumper and front fenders. The top-of-the-range XLT models scored chrome on front and rear bumpers, door handles, tailgate handle and mirrors. A larger 265/70R15 tyre was standard on the 4WD XL and XLT vehicles.

Ford introduced a rear access system on the four-door Super Cab. Other new additions include optional two-tone exterior, two new colours – Amber and Spruce Green – and new alloy wheels. Inside, there were new fabrics, chrome door handles (XLT), an upgraded stereo system (with six-stack CD on XLT), engine immobiliser on crew cab turbo-diesel models and a keyless entry system.  Ride quality was supposedly improved with revisions to the suspension componentry, but our testing showed little change to the harsh ride. However, twin-piston ventilated discs on the 4×4 XLT did improve fade resistance.

A new Super Cab 4×4 XLT was added to the range. Dual airbags and four-wheel ABS were optional on some 4×4 models. Pricing ranged from $28,890 for a 4WD Single Cab Chassis up to $42,560 for a 4WD diesel Super Cab Pickup XLT.

In January 2005, Ford announced the Courier V6 option across Super Cab and Crew Cab body styles and in GL and XLT specification levels. 

The 4.0-litre SOHC V6 engine produced a class-leading 154kW of power at 5250rpm and 323Nm of torque at 3000rpm. 

On automatic 4WD V6 models there was a ‘Shift on the Fly’ selector switch mounted on the centre console, which enabled actuation of the transfer case for shifting between 4×2 and 4×4 modes (2WD-4WD-4WD Low). 

The system worked in conjunction with an electronic remote front wheel hub lock. Recommended retail pricing was $43,190 for the top of the range automatic 4WD XLT Crew Cab.

In March 2007 Ford released the Ranger, with new bodywork and a new 3.0-litre, four-cylinder Duratorq diesel engine, with output of 115kW of power at 3200rpm and peak torque of 380Nm at 1800rpm.

A variable geometry turbocharger reduced turbo lag and broadened the torque curve. The new powerplant was matched with a five-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic transmission.  Ranger retained interior spaciousness and flexibility with a Single Cab, Crew Cab, Chassis Cab and the Super Cab, incorporating the innovative rear access system (RAS).

Ford Ranger’s more rigid chassis and tougher, more durable suspension may have improved strength and payload capacity, but ride quality continued to be a problem for the Ranger until the 2011 range was introduced.  Pricing varied from $33,490 for a 4WD Single Cab Chassis XL up to $45,990 for a 4WD Crew Cab Pick Up XLT. Automatic transmission was a $2000 option. 

The last upgrade of the first Ranger was in February 2009, with an exterior restyle that included a new $48,990 Wildtrak model.


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