South Africans love bakkies. Caravanners love bakkies. And you can bet your trousers that Ford fans are going to love the latest Ranger.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending the launch of the new Ranger, as well as the Ranger Raptor, and if the experience on these trips are anything to go by, caravanners are in for a treat.
Ford made a specific point to inform us in no uncertain terms that new Ranger has improved towing capabilities.
As a start, all derivatives on the new Ranger have a towing capacity of 3 500 kg – a massive ton more than previous models.
Ranger 2.0L double cab XLT 10AT 4×4
Ranger 2.0L BiT double cab Wildtrak 10AT 4×4
Add to that Dynamic Stability Control that adapts to changing load for more control, this is about as good as it gets in South Africa.
Admittedly, we did not get to tow during the launch, but watch this space… we’ll do a tow test soon.
That said, there’s still plenty of evidence that the new Raptor will find fancy with Ford fans, and even convert some others.
UNDER THE HOOD
One of the biggest changes Ford made in the new Ranger is the all-new drivetrain which combines a 10-speed auto gearbox with a 2.0-litre diesel engine (single- or bi-turbo).
At the launch we got to experience four versions of the new models: the top-spec 4×2 and 4×4 XLT (single-turbo), and 4×2 and 4×4 Wildtrak (bi-turbo).
The XLT variants deliver 132 kW and 420 Nm, with maximum torque around 1 750 rpm.
The bi-turbo Wildrak boost the outputs to 157 kW and 500 Nm.
The single-turbo engine has been specifically designed to deliver more at lower engine speed compared with the current 2.2-litre TDCi engine.
The Wildtrak’s two turbochargers work in series at lower engine speeds for enhanced torque and responsiveness, and at higher engine speeds the smaller turbo is bypassed, with the larger turbo providing the boost.
There are loads of benefits to the new engines, including up to 9% better fuel efficiency, being quieter, and lower levels of vibration.
If you are worried about engine stress and turbo trouble on a 2.0-litre engine, just know that Ford has put some serious engineering into this Ranger.
Some of the upgrades include that the turbo housings and compressor bearings are watercooled, the exhaust manifold is now a highgrade material (30% nickel alloy) that has increased heat tolerance, a new intake system, new high-pressure fuel injection system, and too much more to mention here.
Then there’s the new 10-speed automatic transmission, which provides a wider spread of ratios and some new features such as real-time adaptive shift-scheduling.
Ford says this allows the transmission to adapt to changing conditions, which can be beneficial when towing, driving in slippery conditions or climbing a steep gradient.
In terms of suspension, the setup has been completely revised to improve on-road handling, steering response and control.
Aesthetically there are only slight trim changes both inside and out.
The Ranger has a new front grille and bumper, LED fog lights and HID headlights now with integrated Daytime Running Lamps.
At the back, the tailgate has been equipped with a torsion bar.
The EZ-lift tailgate does not drop down with a clang, and you can lift it back up with one finger.
No jokes, I lifted it with my pinky.
Inside, the cabin is suitably darker, with the Wildtrak getting black leather.
There’s a new SYNC 3 infotainment system that comes with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
The new Ford Ranger also boasts keyless start as well as a new engine-start button.
Ford has also clamped down on the incabin noise so typical of bakkies with the inclusion of acoustic laminated front-side glass on the top models and “Active Noise Control” on XLT and Wildtrak.
This basically turns the inside of your Ranger into noise-cancelling headphones.
Microphones in the cabin sample the noise inside, and then generate an inverted soundwave so they cancel each other out.
There’s a barrage of new tech here such as autonomous emergency braking, semiautonomous active park assist for parallel parking, lane keep assist, parking sensors and roll-over mitigation (part of the ESP System), with further roll stability control.
We drove the new Rangers on a variety of surfaces, including a scenic but rugged route through the Outeniqua mountain range.
No terrain was any trouble for the vehicle. On the tar, the updated suspension has improved ride comfort. And, being a bakkie, we expect that with some weight at the back it will be even better.
On gravel roads the ride was also comfortable, and always felt stable.
Tougher terrain allowed us to experience 4-wheel drive. You can switch from 2H to 4H on the go, and the 10-speed transmission works in conjunction with a low-range transfer case, hill descent control and diff lock.
Sections of the road we tackled were pretty damaged from recent fire damage, rock falls and water erosion. Yet, the Ranger took it all in its stride.
With a wading depth of up to 800 mm of water and 230 mm of ground clearance, you could take this bakkie anywhere.
The bottom line is that the 2019 Ford Ranger is now one of the most complete bakkies on sale in South Africa – an impressive engine, awesome gearbox, comfortable, capable, and well priced.
We can’t wait to get a caravan or off-road trailer behind the new Ford Ranger. Watch this space.
By Francois Huysamen