- Good to drive
- Stability control standard
- Competent off road
- Bouncy ride, like most utes
What stands out?The 2014-15 Ford Ranger is rugged but easy to live with. All versions have electronic stability control, a key safety feature not compulsory on this class of vehicle. There are Hi-Rider rear-wheel drive versions that have the clearance and chunkier looks of the capable four-wheel drive Rangers. This review covers Rangers available prior to a model update in August 2015.
What might bug me?The bouncy ride when unladen. But most truck-based utes are like that – they are sprung stiffly at the rear so that they can handle big loads.
What body styles are there?Single cab chassis and pickup; super cab chassis and pickup; double cab chassis and pickup.
All are available in rear-wheel drive, and in four-wheel drive with dual-range gearing. The Ranger is classed as a commercial light pick-up.
What features do all Ford Rangers have?Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control.
Electronic stability control, which can help control a slide and avoid a crash.
Two airbags, immediately in front of the driver and front passenger.
Front-side airbags – which protect the bodies of the front occupants in side impacts - and side curtain airbags – which protect the heads of front and rear-seat occupants in side impacts – are also standard on all but one version, for a total of six airbags. The exception is the basic XL single cab-chassis work truck, on which the extra four airbags are optional.
Every Ranger comes with a three-year, 100,000km warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Ford has thrown its weight behind diesel engines with the Ranger, offering two of them – and no petrol option any longer.
The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel used in less costly models makes modest power but is still quite flexible thanks to its 375Nm of torque. However, it can take a while for the turbo to kick in, resulting in some initial sluggishness.
That diesel is also the fuel economy leader for the Ranger, consuming 8.1 litres/ 100km in official tests (urban and country combined) with a manual gearbox. However, with the auto transmission it’s a lot thirstier: 9.4 litres/100km.
The other engine, a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel producing 470Nm, brings more punch. With an auto gearbox it is as easy on fuel as the smaller engine: about 9.5 litres/100km officially and about 12 litres/100km in the real world.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox can be notchy in its shifts but comes with a hill-hold function to make hill starts easier. The six-speed auto is more user friendly.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Entry to the Ranger line-up is with the XL single cab. It’s basic motoring, with only vinyl floor coverings.
From there it’s a leap to the XL Hi-Rider, which is a cleverly marketed two-wheel drive model that gets a taller four-wheel drive stance but without the expense and weight of 4x4 hardware. Hi-Rider variants are also legally cleared to tow more: up from 2500kg to 3500kg.
The XL Hi-Rider is also the least costly Ranger to offer an automatic gearbox option.
An XL Plus model is available only as a 4x4 and with the bigger five-cylinder turbo diesel.
Similarly, an XLS is available only in 4x4. It adds a rear differential lock (which helps in difficult conditions off road), alloy wheels and carpet.
The volume selling XLT adds satellite-navigation, and dual-zone air-conditioning – which allows the driver and front passenger independent control of air temperature. It also has rear parking sensors, tinted windows, wipers that operate automatically when it rains, a sports/rollover bar, voice control over Bluetooth, and a cooled centre console. A 12V power outlet in the tray is ideal for a small fridge or camping light.
The XLT also gets a towbar for up to 3500kg, a feature many buyers of this style of vehicle would otherwise have to add. It comes with the flagship 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
Top of the Ranger tree is the adventurously-named Wildtrak, which adds a reversing camera, floor mats, a roller shutter for the load area, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. It also has unique wheels and other styling tweaks that make it stand out visually.
Does any upgrade have a down side?The better trimmed interiors will be harder to look after in working or off-road environments.
How comfortable is the Ford Ranger?Inside, XL Rangers feel basic and in some parts cheap, but the main controls fall easily to hand, the seats are comfortable, and head and leg room is generous. For the steering column there is only height adjustment, and no reach adjustment.
Buttons on the steering wheel make accessing major functions easier on the run, while a separate cluster of legible, large buttons and knobs continues the easy usability theme. Some blue tinges and illumination look good, although the centre screen on top of the dash is small.
The XLT is more welcoming thanks to carpeted floors and more features, as well as a bigger screen, while the Wildtrak ramps it up a notch with more upmarket and modern-looking materials.
Underneath, the Ranger has a truck-like ladder frame chassis and stiff leaf-springs at the rear, to handle the one-tonne-plus load it’s designed to carry. It’s a good, rugged combination but one that’s not conducive to car-like manners.
On second-grade roads the unladen tray can shudder and buck. It settles with a load on board but the Ranger still lacks the precision of a passenger car.
The utilitarian tyres do well to minimise noise, and overall noise levels are relatively low, something that makes the Ranger easy to live with – whether for work or play.
What about safety in a Ranger?Standard stability control adds security and can help recover the ute from a skid. Ford fits six airbags to all but the most basic version, and the Ranger is a leader in safety among utes.
However, other crash avoidance systems – such as automatic emergency braking – are not available, and the absence of a reversing camera on most models hurts safety shield ratings.
(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded the Ranger its maximum safety score of five stars.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Among vehicles of its type, the Ranger is towards the top of the tree when it comes to the way it steers and corners.
The tyres ultimately don’t offer the grip of a car’s but they do a respectable job.
When fitted with the more powerful five-cylinder turbo-diesel, the Ranger makes light work of hills and loads.
Off-road, the Ranger is a solid performer with good traction thanks to a part-time four-wheel-drive system with dual-range gearing, which is shifted using a rotary electronic selector.
How is life in the rear seats?The Super Cab gets a pair of upright rear seats with minimal leg room. Best, though, to treat it as an area for pets – or for great in-cabin storage behind the front seats.
More impressive are the rear-hinged doors, which open at 90 degrees and combine with the fronts to create a cavernous aperture.
But it’s the Double Cab that most buyers looking for added flexibility opt for. The bench rear seat will fit three at a pinch and brings decent head and leg room, although there are no rear air-conditioning vents.
How is it for carrying stuff?Those looking to carry a lot of stuff will find more tray space in the single cab models, especially those with a tray back (the tray can be tailored to your needs).
The dual-cab has a much shorter load area.
Tow capacity of the Ranger is 3.5 tonnes, which is as much as you can haul with any ute.
Where does Ford make the Ranger?The Ranger is built in Thailand, sharing its engines, suspension and platform with the Mazda BT-50 ute made in the same factory.
What might I miss that similar cars have?Some utes (such as the Volkswagen Amarok) come with a light to illuminate the tray area at night, which can be handy.
Alternatives include the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, and the Amarok. The Mazda BT-50 is a twin under the skin, sharing major mechanical and other features with the Ranger.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Our reviewers see value in the XLT Double Cab. Features include better looking alloy wheels and a tow kit.
When was this model Ford Ranger updated?An updated Ranger went on sale in August 2015. It brought styling changes at the front, revised suspension settings and a new steering system. The more expensive models gained an 8.0-inch touchscreen and tyre pressure monitors, among other enhancements. Adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning and other advanced safety systems became available as options.
- Good to drive
- Stability control standard
- Competent off road
- Bouncy ride, like most utes
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