The Ford Ranger has been New Zealand’s best selling vehicle for the last three years. Think about that: a ute, designed as a tough work vehicle, outsells all other vehicles in New Zealand. I think that’s pretty surprising. Obviously the Ranger has something special to create all of these sales.
I drove one for a week to find out what the fuss was all about.
When you’re buying a new ute there are a lot of options to choose from. First, do you want single, double or Super cab? Super is part way between single and double. Next, do you want a bare chassis to build your own back, or a wellside fixed-side deck with tailgate? 2WD or 4WD? Manual or automatic?
Once you have that sorted you have to decide what spec to go for. In 2WD for there’s the base XL or the higher spec XLT. In 4WD there’s XL, XLT and Wildtrak as well as the special edition FX4 tested here. Prices start from $36,040 for a basic single cab 2WD chassis and go up to $69,640 for the Wildtrak 4WD wellside Auto. There are far too many combinations to cover here so I’ll just list the spec of our test car.
The FX4 special edition is based on the 4WD XLT with added Black Pack and is priced at $65,390. Power is provided by a 3.2l 5-cylinder turbodiesel which produces 146kW and 470Nm. This powers all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Safety features include Cruise Control, Speed Limiter, airbags (driver, front passenger, front seat side and side curtain), Alarm, Stability Control, ABS, Brake Assist, Hill Descent Control, Hill Launch Assist, Load Adaptive Control, eLocking Rear Diff, front and rear parking sensors, Roll Over Mitigation, Trailer Sway Control, Tyre Pressure Monitor.
You also get auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate, leather seats, 6-speaker stereo, satnav, various cosmetic details over the XLT and a tow bar.
There’s also an optional Tech Pack which adds Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert, Driver Impairment Monitor, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning.
The FX4 is available in monochrome shades only: Frozen White, Ingot Silver, Magnetic (metallic grey) and the colour of our test car – Shadow Black.
We’ve all seen lots of Rangers on the road, and they certainly have a presence with that big chrome grille. I’ve always found that to be a bit in-your-face, so when I saw the FX4 with its blacked-out grille I was really impressed. I think the Black Pack really improves the looks, it’s a great looking truck.
The FX4 has Special edition grey 18″ Wheels, styling decals, and the aforementioned black grille, black roof rails, black side steps and a black sports bar behind the cab. None of these details really stood out on our test car against the black paint but it all worked well together and looked great.
The black theme continues inside the FX4, with black leather seats and everything else in dark grey with black trims. There are metal highlights around the air vents, which break up the grey of the dash nicely. The headliner and pillars are light beige to stop it feeling too dark. It looks good.
There’s an 8” touch-screen set into the centre of the dash, with knobs for the stereo volume and tuning below it. All other media system controls are on-screen. I found the up/down buttons for the dual-zone aircon a bit fiddly, and kept reaching for the stereo knobs instead, expecting them to be for temperature.
The stereo has Bluetooth connectivity, and it worked properly, re-connecting to my phone seamlessly every time. The sound from the six speakers is very good, better than average, with good bass and clear sound. The angle of the screen meant it was sometimes hard to see in sunlight, but other than that it’s a good system.
There are two 12v power sockets and two USBs in the bottom of the console, and rear passengers get a 12v socket and a household 240v socket. The large central cubby between the front seats is cooled by the air conditioning.
At first glance, the leather-trimmed steering wheel has a lot of buttons (22 to be exact), but the top direction pad/select buttons are only used to change the dash displays or reset trip computer, so won’t be used all that much.
The other 12 buttons are for the stereo and phone controls, and the cruise control. They’re easily accessible with your thumb but all feel similar, so I found myself looking down a lot of the time when I used them. Something you’d get used to if it was your car but they could be better designed.
For the instruments, Ford have gone for a three-section layout with a large analogue speedo in the centre and LCD screens either side. The screens can be cycled through quite a few displays including compass, rev counter, audio track, fuel economy etc.
The leather seats are very comfortable, but surprisingly not electrically adjustable or heated, which is unusual in a vehicle at this price point. Rear seats are also comfortable and there’s plenty of room for four adults, five at a push.
Unusually these days, the Ranger doesn’t have keyless start. Not a big deal but it is a nice convenience feature to have, especially in a work vehicle where you might be getting in and out a lot. Never having to take the key out of your pocket would be useful. My first impressions on driving it were that it was quite noisy. That 5-cylinder diesel does have quite a roar when accelerating. But when driving normally or cruising along it’s barely noticeable. In fact road and wind noise are surprisingly low for such a big, square vehicle. It’s definitely more refined than some of its competitors that I’ve driven. Occasionally I’d be driving along and forget that it was a ute as it feels more like a large SUV. Then I’d go over a few bumps and the illusion would be broken. Not that it’s bad over bumps, but you can’t avoid a bit of a jiggly ride in a ute with no weight in the back.
In traffic, the Ranger was great for visibility, with its high driving position, big windows and big mirrors. The optional radar cruise would have been nice to have in stop/start traffic but once traffic eased up, the standard cruise was very good, showing the set speed on the display, and it was easy to adjust when needed. Parking was also easy for such a big vehicle, with the help of front and rear sensors and a reversing camera in the tailgate.
As I said, the Ranger drives well enough to forget it’s a ute sometimes, but it does like to remind you every time you pull out of a turning. The Ranger is primarily driven by the rear wheels, and with 470Nm of torque and no weight in the rear it’s very easy to spin the rear wheels, especially on full lock. The traction control sorts it out quickly but I did chirp the tyres a few times.
In the centre console there’s a knob to switch from 2WD to 4WD or 4WD low. I didn’t get the opportunity to go properly off-road but I did drive over a few ruts and into a steep little dip, and the Ranger handled it with ease.
I decided to test out the Ranger’s practicality by doing a run to the local tip, then moving some furniture for a friend. The bed of our test car had a tough plastic liner to protect the metal, and inset into that was another 240v power socket. Very handy! The wheel arches are lower than some other utes, so they don’t intrude too far into the load space so much, making it easy to fit lots in there. Strapping the furniture down was easy thanks to several metal loops inset into the sides.
The only thing I didn’t really like was the weight of the tailgate. Some gas struts would be good to slow its opening as it’s very heavy and drops with quite a jolt. I’m sure it’s fine for tradies but not great when a seven year-old opens it and almost gets a smack on the head.
I didn’t get the chance to do any long trips in the Ranger, so my fuel usage was a bit higher than the quoted 8.7l/100km, coming out at 11.2. Given that this was mostly short trips, tip runs and busy commutes this isn’t so bad.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||Fuel, L/100km||Seats||Towing Capacity, Kg||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Holden Colorado Z71||2.8l 4-cylinder turbodiesel||147kW/500Nm||8.7||5||3500||$66,990|
|Ford RangerFX4||3.2l 5-cylinder turbo diesel||147kW/470Nm||8.3||5||3500||$65,390|
|Toyota Hilux SR5||2.8l 4-cylinder turbodiesel||130kW/450Nm||8.5||5||3000||$62,990|
|Isuzu D-Max LS-T||3.0l 4-cylinder turbodiesel||130Nm/430Nm||7.9||5||3500||$61,990|
|Mazda BT-50 Limited||3.2l 5-cylinder turbodiesel||147kW/470Nm||9.2||5||3500||$59,795|
|Foton Tunland S||2.8l 4-cylinder turbodiesel||130kW/365Nm||8.9||5||2500||$39,490|
|Great Wall Steed||2.4l 4-cylinder turbodiesel||110kW/310Nm||12.7||5||2000||$31,990|
The pros and cons
What we think
I can see why these are popular trucks for tradies who cover a lot of kilometers. The seats are comfortable, the ride is good and there are plenty of creature comforts and safety features. There are a few extras I’d like to see at this price, like keyless start and radar cruise, but overall it’s a great truck, with that tough, go-anywhere feel.
Rating – Chevron rating (4.0 out of 5)
2017 Ford Ranger FX4
|Vehicle Type||Double Cab Ute|
|Starting Price||$42,140 plus on-road costs|
|Tested Price||$65,390 plus on-road costs|
|Engine||Duratorq 3.2L Turbo Diesel Common-rail Injection (TDCi)|
|Power Kw / Torque Nm||147kW/470Nm|
|0 – 100 kph, seconds||N/A|
|Spare Wheel||Full-sized spare|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||2202|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||5426 x 1860 x 1821|
|Tray size||1549mm long at base|
1139mm between wheelhouses
1330mm rear opening width
|Fuel Tank, litres||80|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.7L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 11.2L / 100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Towing/Payload||Payload 995kg |
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 Year / 100,000km new vehicle warranty|
|ANCAP Rating||5 stars|
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