Published on November 30th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
New Ford Ranger Put Through Its Paces
The new Ford Ranger isn’t your typical pick-up truck. Building on the same platform as the outgoing model, Ford has given the truck more than just a facelift. So much has been added and changed, it brings not only the nameplate, but the entire ‘pick-up’ truck segment to uncharted territory.
Just like most (if not all) pick-up truck offerings in the country, Ford have given us a wide variety of Ranger variants to pick from, and they’re all made in Thailand – the pick-up manufacturing capital for the region. The variants are all twin-cabs so don’t expect to see two-door Rangers. They start at RM91,588 OTR for the 2.2L XL Manual, with price and equipment increments on the 2.2L XLT Manual, 2.2L XLT Auto, 3.2L XLT Manual, 3.2L XLT Auto. The 3.2L Wildtrak gets the works, including a sports bar, and side steps, thus the high price tag of RM132,188.
Some might think that paying that much for a work horse is a little silly, but Ford have definitely justified the pricing. Just take a look at the amount of kit that goes into the Wildtrak. ESP comes standard on all models, but the range-topper has 6 airbags! That’s 3 times more than any other pick-up truck sold in Malaysia. But the airbag count barely scratches the surface of what the new Ranger has to offer. So to make their case, Ford and Sime Darby Auto Connexion organised a media drive to the Tadom Resort, where a customised off-road course had been made just for the occasion.
The course put the Ranger through its paces. First, we waded through water roughly 800mm deep – deeper than any of its competitors can go. We then proceeded through some Elephant Steps. To those unfamiliar, this picture tells the story.
We then proceeded to climb and descend a very steep hill. Despite the loose surface, the Ranger had no problems ascending, while the ride down was practically autonomous (save for some steering input) thanks to the Ranger’s Hill Descent Control, which applied brakes to individual wheels and set the speed at a certain level. The Ranger comes with Hill Start Assist as well, which holds the vehicle in place for about 2 seconds when moving one’s foot from the brake to accelerator pedal while on a slope.
It wasn’t the excellent off-road capabilities that set the Ranger apart though – earlier in the week, we put the Nissan Navara through its paces and were just as satisfied with its capabilities. No, what really set the Ranger apart was its on-road handling. Ford’s strategy makes perfect sense. They’ve taken note that many of its Ranger sales were attributed to private owners who would only go off tarmac once in a while if ever. So they made the Ranger extremely refined with 2 smooth and powerful Duratec diesel engines and a great 6-speed shifter to go along with it.
On the Wildtrak, the on-road performance is second to none. There’s an excess of power available at the top end, so you never have to really put your foot down. It’s just always ready to deliver. It’s ladder chassis and leaf springs are engineered in a way that you barely notice just how large the truck is. No, we still haven’t gotten to the cool part yet.
Here it is: Ford have given the Ranger Wildtrak the entire package. Get in the driver’s seat and it’s difficult to tell the feature set apart from the Mondeo. It’s not just the inclusion of Sync 2 with its large touch screen offers unrivalled connectivity options for phones. It’s much, much more. Just like on its Mondeo, there’s adaptive cruise control, which slows the car down to keep a safe and constant distance between the Ranger and whatever puny vehicle is in front of it. The Lane Keeping Aid works with the electric motor power steering (a first for pick-ups) to gently nudge the steering wheel in the right direction. It’s awesome to experience, especially when you consider just how technology like this would normally only be available in luxury cars.
What’s more, there’s Forward Alert, which warns the driver when the car ahead is dangerously close. This can be a life saver in an age where so many carelessly text while driving. These safety features make the new Ford Ranger Wildtrak undeniably the best pick-up to use as a daily driver in Malaysia. This is especially true when you consider just how many power outlets and how much legroom the rear passenger are given. While the other models share the same driving characterisitcs, the added amenities in the most expensive variant are definetely worth looking into.