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Ford Ranger XL Crew Cab 2011 review

The Ranger looks the job - it's a big, powerful, in-ya-face type of machine ...
EXPERT RATING
8
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  • Ease of driving
  • Room
  • Style
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  • Gear shift
  • Hard plastics

MORE in South-East Asia people own utes compared with any other vehicle. In fact, by a country mile. Isuzu alone turned out 220,000 utes just from its Thai plant, one of only 17 of its global factories, and GM and Toyota easily matched that figure.

The reason is simple. And if I knew it, I'd tell you. Because though having a ute in your driveway allows you to work and play and give you macho credit points with your mates, the ride comfort compared with a similarly-priced sedan is in the horse-and-cart category.

Think about these: Getting in and out of the tall cabin is fine if you're aged 25 years or less. Given the volume of utes on the roads, is this indicative of Australia's swollen population of carpenters and plumbers? They have the turning circle of a 747 and similar driver visibility.

But, I concede that some utes are quite neat. Like this one.

Value

Just because they're all chassis, pressed steel sheet, moulded plastic and foam, utes aren't necessarily cheap. The Ford Ranger starts at $19,740 for a 2WD cab-chassis petrol manual but you'd prefer to be seen in a feature-filled dual-cab 4WD with the most powerful diesel.

The test Ranger is an XLT Crew Cab 4WD with the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel and a six-speed manual transmission carrying a price of $44,490 plus on-road costs. That's $2000 dearer than a Falcon XR6. But, as a workhorse and off-roader, the R anger adheres perfectly to its charter and is a very tough machine.

Design

All utes are not created equal. The Ranger looks the job - it's a big, powerful, in-ya-face type of machine and though it means business, it still manages to look neat. It's possibly one of the better looking utes on the market on the outside and that generally carries over to the inside. I know it's a workhorse but the dashboard is a humungous piece of matte black plastic with little visual relief. But everything works well, especially the read-out screen atop the centre console. There's lots of personal storage space and excellent leg and headroom for five big blokes. It also has more tie-down points in the tray than most rivals though not all of you will be happy about the weight of the tail gate.

Technology

The five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is different and though the rear suspension has been carefully honed to produce a good all-round blend of payload and comfort, the Ranger is no minefield of technological brilliance. And neither it should be. This is a tough truck with the accent on simplicity and durability. You wouldn't pick the number of cylinders from the exhaust note and for all intents and purposes, it's a capable 147kW/470Nm diesel that can average 8.9 L/100km. The six-speed manual transmission may be new but it's not up to scratch. I'd suggest you opt for the six-speed auto.

Safety

Remarkably, the Ranger gets a five-star crash rating when fitted with side curtain airbags. Remarkable because of all the utes, only the Falcon, Commodore and Volkswagen Amarok equal the Ranger. And only the Amarok is in the same 4WD class as the Ford. Ranger gets electronic stability control, a "trailer sway" control, "adaptive load" control for extra stability when carrying heavy payloads, hill descent control, hill launch assist and brakeforce distribution. The ABS brakes and ESC system have sensors that modify braking force when the ute is driven off the road.

Driving

Basically the Ranger feels like, and works like, most of its peers. The overdone plastic cabin is great for lightweight construction and, to an extent, durability, but looks too plain in a $45,000 vehicle that is likely to be a family car on weekends. ut it is comfortable and even rough roads are tolerable thanks to the relative suppleness of the suspension and - more likely - the well-designed seats. In most respects - braking, steering and acceleration - the Ranger is a good ride. But the stiff, indistinct ga te and shift of the manual transmission mars the clean, rich torque delivery of the engine. The box shouldn't be a pain to operate after the test ute's 5500km. The electric shift of the 4WD transfer case is quick and easy and the result is a surprisingly adept offroader that owes a lot to the strength of the engine in the low and middle revs

Verdict

This good-looking ute deserves most of the launch hype but really doesn't represent big advances over its rivals. The manual gearbox should be avoided.

Pricing guides

$19,999
Based on 178 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,990
Highest Price
$34,870

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Wildtrak (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $14,900 – 21,010 2011 Ford Ranger 2011 Wildtrak (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Wildtrak 3.2 (4x4) 3.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $22,500 – 30,580 2011 Ford Ranger 2011 Wildtrak 3.2 (4x4) Pricing and Specs
XL (4X2) 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $6,500 – 10,120 2011 Ford Ranger 2011 XL (4X2) Pricing and Specs
XL (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $10,700 – 15,730 2011 Ford Ranger 2011 XL (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$8,990

Lowest price, based on 151 car listings in the last 6 months

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