The new Ford Ranger is the most advanced ute on sale in Australia, but most models are missing one basic ingredient.
The world's most hi-tech ute — the new Ford Ranger — goes on sale in Australia today, but there is just one spanner in the works.
The technology that automatically steers the ute to stay in its own lane and keeps a safe distance with the car in front is only available as an optional extra on the two most expensive versions of the new Ford Ranger, which cost close to $60,000.
Between 10 and 20 infants are killed in driveway incidents in Australia each year
Incredibly, a basic item such as a rear view camera is also optional on all but one of the 37 models in the range — even though utes and SUVs are over-represented in driveway deaths, and cameras are now so affordable they are standard on $14,990 hatchbacks.
Figures from Kidsafe show between 10 and 20 infants are killed in driveway incidents in Australia each year; hundreds more are injured.
A rear camera which displays an image with guiding lines on the large screen on the dashboard is an $1100 accessory on the popular $55,000 Ford Ranger XLT model.
More affordable versions of the new Ford Ranger have the option of dealer-fitted rear view cameras — providing buyers can make do with a tiny display inside the mirror.
By comparison, the first all-new Toyota HiLux ute in 10 years will have a rear camera as standard on every pick-up model when it arrives in Australian showrooms in October.
Nevertheless, the Ford Ranger will likely lead the technology race as the first workhorse on sale in Australia available with radar cruise control, lane keeping assistance and forward crash alert for an extra $600 to $1100, depending on the model.
All versions of the new Ford Ranger will come with automatic emergency dialling.
Buyers are using them for work during the week and then as a family car on weekends
If the airbags are deployed in a crash, and a mobile phone is paired via the Bluetooth system, the new Ford Ranger will automatically call 000 and send the vehicle's exact location to the emergency services for a faster response time.
Ute sales continue to set new records in Australia, with workhorses now the third most popular type of vehicle sold after small cars and SUVs.
Buyers are using them for work during the week and then as a family car on weekends and during the holidays.
The safety and technology available in utes has improved markedly in recent years; most of the top sellers have a five-star safety rating and come with at least six airbags and stability control, which can prevent a rollover or a skid.