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Ford Ranger 2012 review

Give-me-room looks and a turbodiesel engine that's the equal of anything in its class makes the Ford Ranger XLT worth a drive for potential four-wheel drive utility owners.

In double cab form the Ranger isn't just smart, it's a genuine alternative to SUVs for those willing to sacrifice a bit of load area for the practicality of five seats. The HiLux and Navar may dominate the segment but the Ford has the newest and slickest interior in the class and doesn't compromise towing or off-road ability to achieve it.

Value

The best costs more and right now the Ranger is the best family utility rolling around. The sales figures don't back that up, with the traditional favourite, the Toyota HiLux, outselling it by almost three to one so far this year.

The XLT dual cab starts at $53,390, so it's aimed at tradies, small business owners and families who like getting off the beaten track. And in that guise, the Ranger is hard to beat.

Technology

Standard features on an XLT run from reverse parking sensors - a must-have on a 5.3m vehicle - to auto wipers and headlamps, an auto-dimming rear mirror and cruise control.

Voice recognition software can be used to operate Bluetooth phones or external USB/iPod device, the sound system and the dual-zone airconditioning. The six-speed automatic is a $2000 option that's worth the cash if the Ranger is going to be a city-based ute during the week STYLING Hats off to the Ford designers.

The solid shape of the Ranger is meaty without being slab-sided, thanks to the curved guards and cladding on the bottom of the doors. It also appeals to men and women, based on the reaction during CarsGuide's time behind the wheel. 

Inside the airvent design is straight out the Focus and the instrument panel is a more adult interpretation of the chrome-laden cluster found in the Fiesta.

Safety

Ford and Mazda teamed up on the Ranger/BT-50 development. As a result, they share the honours for the safest vehicle in the four-door, four-wheel drive utility market and the first to earn a five-star rating.

The ABS system includes traction and stability control with hill ascent and descent assist, rollover mitigation, trailer sway control and load-adapting suspension. The five-star rating is matched only by the Volkswagen Amarok.

Driving

Carparks are the only gripe I have with the Ranger. I know it's a big bus but manoeuvring in confined spaces isn't a lot of fun with a 12.7m turning circle. Rear parking sensors prevent it being a case of touch-parking but the camera on the range-topping Wildcab would be a safety-conscious addition.

That aside, the Ranger shows why the 4WD ute market continues to grow. The turbodiesel's 470Nm makes it a responsive drive from 10-110km/h. It isn't hard to chirp a tyre if the throttle application is a bit heavy exiting a corner but it rides reasonably flat under general duties.

The leaf spring rear suspension springs into action if you hit a spee d hump with too much pace but that's the price owners' pay for a one-tonne payload and 3.3-tonne towing capacity.

Some weight in the tray settles that down, too.  The sound system was good enough for the rear-seat teens to remove the iPod buds and connect to the car's speakers but wasn't rated as anything special.

Off-road, the switch on the centre console makes it a solid proposition that's only held back in slippery conditions by the dual-purpose rubber.

Verdict

Looks are subjective but for mine the Ranger is the best-looking 4WD ute on the block. The purposeful lines cover an equally capable interior that has enough refinement to satisfy most private buyers and still cope with a solid weekday workout.

Pricing guides

$26,970
Based on 394 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,990
Highest Price
$43,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Wildtrak 3.2 (4x4) 3.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $24,100 – 32,670 2012 Ford Ranger 2012 Wildtrak 3.2 (4x4) Pricing and Specs
XL 2.2 (4X2) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $9,300 – 14,080 2012 Ford Ranger 2012 XL 2.2 (4X2) Pricing and Specs
XL 2.2 (4X4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $13,500 – 19,580 2012 Ford Ranger 2012 XL 2.2 (4X4) Pricing and Specs
XL 2.2 Hi-Rider (4x2) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,900 – 17,490 2012 Ford Ranger 2012 XL 2.2 Hi-Rider (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$10,990

Lowest price, based on 385 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.