A big thank you to all the team at Capital City Motors located at 97 Taranaki Street, Wellington for allowing us the use of a brand new Ford Ranger XLT for this Road Tested Review. Drop in anytime to check out their complete range of new & used Ford and Mazda cars.



What would you expect from a modern ute? Rugged versatility, muddy paddock and rutted track handling, able to pull that heavy load- all while experiencing first class comfort for the whanau… and don’t forget the dog in the back too! We put the Ford Ranger XLT to the test.



Stepping up into this heavy duty ute, I turn the engine over and I’m hit with that deep diesel rumble. Yup this is a proper do-it-all vehicle. This Ford Ranger featured a six speed manual with a 4 low transfer case. Letting the clutch out, it bites fast and firm and eases into a steady but low ratio first gear. Geared at 5.441 no effort is required to get you and whatever you’re towing moving. The new ford Ranger is considered a medium to large ute, and around town it definitely feels like it. With a high seating position and a large rear end which makes rear visibility challenging, the XLT comes standard with the reversing sensors that help out a bit. Driving wise though, the Ranger is firm and has minimal roll despite it’s size. The front end wish-bone suspension is tuned to be firm on the corners but absorbs a lot of the bumps on the road. The Ranger handles like a car in an unexpected way. Pushing the 2 tonne mass through traffic, intersections and a maze of narrow Wellington streets was surprisingly manageable. After a while, my driving became quite aggressive and raw with gear shifts and throttle control due to the nature of the transmission is gearing. But in a staunch way I found it a lot of fun, and in part it didn’t help that there was copious amounts of torque that made it much more impressive. On the open road, the Ranger’s 3.2L Turbo Diesel produces 147Kw of power and 470Nm of massive torque at 3000rpm. Reaching cruising speed was easy and with the weight and steering setup, not even strong Wellington cross winds can sway the rolling behemoth. The combination of high torque and accurate gearing, we managed to get the Ranger effortlessly driving up the Ngauranga Gorge, Wellington in 5th gear with ease, and with some spare to overtake. Not bad. The large capacity engine enables firm engine braking, perfect for those heavy trailer loads. Shifting from 4th down to 3rd you can feel the heavy braking and a very purposeful and direct shift in power.


Off the highway, the Ranger shows off its practical and effective 4WD system. The new Ranger utilises an electronic 4WD selection system. From the simple turn of a dial you can lock the center differential and engage 4hi and again for 4low. The dial is easy, rather large and simple to access. On the dirt roads and farm paddocks, the Ranger performs as it should. She gets you where you want, no problems. But on the more rocky areas we found the more road orientated suspension to be rather stiff and didn’t help at softening the ride. Some part could be due to tyre selection, a more off road AT tyre with flexible sidewalls aired down would smooth things noticeably. But we did with what we had and pushed the traction control and articulation of the Ranger to see how far it could go. The wheel travel in the rear, seated on leaf springs, had good reach and maintained enough tyre contact on loose stones to push it forward. Navigating ruts and other obstacles was easily spotted from the driving position. Taking off from standstill in 4-low 1st gear, I don’t believe there would be much that could stop the Ranger when driven in anger. The combined super low gearing and limitless torque make it a fearsome competitor.



When it comes to styling and presentation, two things came to mind when driving the Ford Ranger: robustness and simplicity. Of course simplicity meant in an easy to use, no thrills sort of way. Operating the media console/bluetooth unit was always only two or three buttons and done. There was no lengthy navigating menus or complex options to decide on. If I wanted a particular station and a specific sound setting, I could do it easily myself even while driving. The interior was what I had hoped for, strong and robust. With solid shapes and materials used on high contact areas like handles and large knobs for climate control. Everything that required interaction is chunky and nicely spaced, you are not going to be breaking these any time soon. Everything is also easy to wipe down if you get mud in the cab. The down side to all of this though is as I put it, simple. This is no European luxury cruiser, it’s a working vehicle with a specific job. But it is hard to stay too simple when you’ve got the likes of VW raising the bar in form and function in this fast evolving utility market.


We found the climate control was very efficient and quickly and quietly did its thing, as well as being dual zone, something that more and more modern vehicles are offering. It is common knowledge that diesels aren’t known for their slight as breeze quiet running engines, they are still noisey at the best of times. But the Rangers cab was surprisingly well insulated from exterior sound that we had to work hard to listen for that rumble. Couple that with the rich sound system and you find yourself in a pleasant driving environment. Not too bad when you’re over work and just want to get home. On that note, cruise control is a breeze to activate too.

Being on the larger side of utes on the market, the Ranger did provide substantial space for me when driving. Even with the drivers seat in position I could still sit directly behind without any issues. I’m around 6”1 and the tops of my knees were only just starting to touch the back of the drivers seat. Head room is beyond spacious, you could wear a hard hat all day and not scuff it. The B pillar is slightly forward, or the rear entrance is wider towards the back. Either way entering and exiting for passengers is no problem. Inside the center arm rest you’ll find a cooling inlet- cool drinks for your long trip no worries.

When it comes to utes, one thing that I always looks for is how many tie down points in the tray and if it has stock sturdy recovery options front and rear? The Ranger ticked all those boxes, with plenty of tie down points in the tray. So you can relax, that dog won’t be flattened because the load is secure in the back.


What it’s up against.

The Ford Ranger XLT stacks up nicely against it competitors. Price, Fuel Economy, the huge amount of stuff you can chuck in the back. But power is where it stands out from the rest.

Brand / Model Engine Power Tray Size/ Payload Fuel Economy Price
Ford Ranger XLT Dbl Cab 3.2-litre Turbo Diesel 147kw / 470Nm 1,234 Litres/ 1,142kg 8.9L/100km $59,040
Mazda BT-50 Limited Dbl Cab 3.2-litre Turbo Diesel 147kw / 470Nm 1,214 Litres/ 1,095kg 9.2L/100km $62,395
Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab Sports Auto 2.8-litre Turbo Diesel 132kw / 440Nm 1,060 Litres/ 1,047kg 9.1L/100km $61,900
VW Amarok TDI Dbl Cab 4Motion Highline 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 132kw / 420Nm 1,077 Litres/ 882kg 8.3L/100km $64,990
Isuzu D-Max LS Double Cab 3.0-litre Turbo Diesel 130kw / 380Nm 1,104 Litres/ 1010kg 8.1L/100km $56,990
Mitsubishi Triton Utility 4WD Double Cab GL 2.5-litre Turbo Diesel 133kw / 356Nm 1,655 Litres/ 1,155kg 8.1L/100km $46,490
Toyota Hilux 4WD Double Cab SR5 3.0-litre Turbo Diesel 126kw / 343Nm 1,036 Litres/ 1,100kg 9.3L/100km $61,980
Great Wall V200 Utility 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel 105kw / 310Nm 1,077 Litres/1,000kg 8.3L/100km $29,990


  • Spacious interior
  • Multiple tie down points in tray
  • Indicator to change gear
  • Great road presence and handling
  • Competitive pricing
  • Fuel efficient and plenty of power
  • Media control buttons visually, poorly designed
  • Stiff suspension over rocky terrain
  • Doors auto locking was unpredictable (child safety malfunction?)


What do we think ?

I’ve become a little attached to the new Ford Ranger, that standoffish face and aggressive gearing really made me respect it’s ability to take on anything you throw at it. Even though I’m still adjusting to the electronic 4hi-low selectors, they are the future and admittedly easy to use and hassle free. Ford has done right by maintaining a large engine capacity but achieving low fuel consumption, that extra one and half litres helps for the torque and engine braking. Carrying the Ranger name since 1988 the model is still going strong, and as my little 10 year old sister exclaimed, it’s awesome!

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5




Ford Ranger XLT


Vehicle Type: Utility
Starting price: $59,040
Engine: Duratorq 3.2L Turbo Diesel Common rail-injection 147kW / 470Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Curb Weight: 3200kg
Length x Width x Height: 5351 x 1850 x 1821
Cargo Capacity: 1,234L tray
Fuel Tank: 80L


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Tom Lo
Filthy tidiness is probably how I would describe my passion for anything with a motor. I enjoy the perfection, purposefulness, and thought put into the design and assembly of cars....but I do love to see them been thrashed and covered in brake dust, dirt and blood. You gotta use it to love it in my books.


  1. Nice article. Does anyone from you guys know a company here in NZ that is able to tune the ECU of this 3.2 or 2.2 TDCi Ranger? Thanks


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