AS SOON as the last bolts securing the Rola Titan roof racks were tightened, and the winch rope and Factor 55 FlatLink were fitted, we were loading our Project Ford Ranger up with gear for a three-week trip to Central Australia and the Simpson Desert.
The tray area in the XLS-spec Ranger doesn’t have a 12-volt outlet, but the rear seats fold up neatly to provide a flat space that snuggly fits our 40-litre ARB fridge/freezer on one side and leaves enough space behind the passenger seat (and in the tray) for more cargo, including swags, camp chairs, stretchers and so on. Even though I was travelling solo, I was meeting a crew in Alice Springs and had all of their camp gear onboard.
It was a highway run to Alice, with the Ranger easily eating up the miles; the Maxxis RAZR muddies humming along on the black-top, and tunes flowing from the Ford sound system. The Ranger XLS only has a basic stereo with two front speakers and no sat-nav in the dash, but it sufficed on long days on the tracks.
I’m normally a big fan of automatic climate-control systems, but the XLS misses out on this feature. Still, I was pleased with the ease of use of the old-school HVAC system and its big dials for temperature and fan control, as opposed to the tiny buttons used on the higher-spec XLT and Raptor models. The cabin of our low-spec Ranger proved to be a nice place to spend long hours on the road.
With the oversized tyres throwing the speedometer and odometer out by around five per cent, and the Ironman 4x4 long-range fuel tank leaving the fuel gauge imprecise, we couldn’t get accurate fuel-use figures, but we estimate it was returning around 13 to 13.5L/100km on the highway. The 140-litre tank provided around 900km of safe fuel range.
Once in Alice Springs we dropped into Ironman 4x4 fitters, Stuart Highway Auto, for a spanner check of the new suspension. This is always recommended at around 1000km after installation, and we’d logged up more than 2300km heading to Alice. It all checked out okay, and it was then only a matter of picking up the crew and heading on our way.
You’ll read more about our Red Centre adventures, as well as reviews of the gear fitted to the Ranger, in upcoming issues of the magazine. We’ll also tell you how well the Ranger took on the deserts. With it now back in Melbourne, it’s overdue for its 3000km service; plus, we have more gear to be fitted before we leave the black-top behind for another trip.
The complete ownership adventure on 4x4 Shed
4x4 Shed Log: 2018 Ford Ranger XLS
Current mileage: 6112km
Date acquired: June 2019
Mileage this month: 5737km
Average fuel consumption: N/A