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Ford Ranger 2020 review: XL 4x2 Hi-Rider pick-up 2.2L auto


Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

3.8/5

The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux have been in a topsy-turvy two-way battle for top-selling ute supremacy in Australia for some time. The Ranger is one of the few utes on the market that has consistently threatened – and at times broken – Toyota’s hold on the segment.

However, when people think of the Ranger they think of the flashy more lifestyle-oriented versions, such as the FX4 or the Wildtrak or the Raptor, because they’re the ones that get all the publicity.

But what about a cheaper, basic Ranger, much more suited to work than its higher-spec stablemates? Say, for instance, something like an entry-level 4x2 Ranger variant. Does it deserve your attention? Is it actually cut out for load-carrying duties. Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle was a Ford Ranger XL 4x2 (rear-wheel drive) dual-cab Hi-Rider with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It has arctic white paint – any other colour, except for true red, is considered a prestige colour and costs $650. This vehicle also did not have the optional $500 heavy-duty suspension pack, which includes new front and rear dampers, thicker rear springs with revised spring rates, and a specific ABS and ESC calibration. This option – designed for comfort while carrying loads, Ford reckons, not to improve load-carrying ability – is available on all XL variants, except the 4×2 Low-Rider.

It has that distinctively chunky Ranger look on the outside. It has that distinctively chunky Ranger look on the outside.

The MSRP for this vehicle is $40,390, includes GST.

But what does it have? Well, it has 16-inch steel wheels, cloth seats, and vinyl flooring – and not a whole lot else. But that’s perfectly suited to this ute and its main purpose: work … with a touch of play, perhaps.

It does have Ford’s SYNC3 multimedia with 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (no voice-activated controls though), as well as a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and a lift-assisted tailgate.

Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

It does not have 4WD or Ford’s terrain management system, but it does have a rear diff lock – as do all Ranger Hi-Rider variants.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It has that distinctively chunky Ranger look on the outside and the interior is decidedly work-friendly with cloth seats, vinyl floor covering and hard plastics everywhere, designed to cope with the dirty rigours of work life.

Our test car is finished in arctic white paint – any other colour, except for true red, is considered a prestige colour and costs $650. Our test car is finished in arctic white paint – any other colour, except for true red, is considered a prestige colour and costs $650.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

This Ranger has a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – producing 118kW at 3200rpm and 385Nm at 1600-2500rpm – and a six-speed automatic transmission. This is a perfectly serviceable combination, neither too lively or too refined (in fact, it’s quite noisy but I’ll get to that later). 

Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 118kW/385Nm. Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 118kW/385Nm.

Remember: this ute is a 4x2, it is not a 4WD.

How practical is the space inside?

As mentioned the interior is quite spartan – cloth seats, vinyl floor covering and hard plastics surfaces – and while it is very basic, it looks and feels right. This is a job-ready work space; don’t go looking for power-adjustable, heated seats in here because you won’t find them.

The interior is decidedly work-friendly with cloth seats. The interior is decidedly work-friendly with cloth seats.

There’s plenty of storage in the form of hard sculpted door pockets, a centre console with lid and two cupholders in front of it and a few smaller spaces here and there for keys and pocket rubbish.

There are two USB ports at the front, as well as an auxiliary 12V power outlet in the lower dashboard and one at the rear of the centre console.

What's it like as a daily driver?

The front seats are manually adjustable and even though all pews are comfortable enough, none of them will ever win an award for high-level plushness.

One thing is abundantly clear: this is a work ute, of that there is absolutely no doubt because it’s quite gruff from first turn of the key and it becomes even more noisy under throttle, but none of that is much of a surprise and none of that is especially difficult to live with if you’re at all used to a work vehicle’s peculiar idiosyncrasies.

No worries about the 2.2-litre diesel engine having enough grunt either: it’s a good little unit, not the torquiest engine around – it’s no stump-puller – but it works well with the six-speed auto in most applications, even with a load. 

There is, however, some lag to acceleration at times and that auto box is guilty of, now and again, holding onto a gear for a bit too long, but that’s mostly under load. 

Be aware, there’s also a touch of drivetrain vibration under heavy acceleration at lower speeds.

Steering has that nice and light Ranger feel about it and this ute is easy enough to manoeuvre around city and suburban streets without any hassle. It has a 12.7m turning circle.

Though it does sporadically exhibit the back-end jitter that unladen utes have suffered since the dawn of time, that skipping behaviour is never terrible in the Ranger. Ride comfort, overall, feels quite firm but composed.

The Ranger XL wears 16-inch steel wheels. The Ranger XL wears 16-inch steel wheels.

The 16-inch steel wheels on Dunlop Grand Trek AT20s (255/70R16) are tough enough for job-site duties and the brakes – discs at the front, drums at the rear – have a real definite biting action to them and knowing you can bring this ute, unladen or not, to a brutal emergency stop if needed inspires confidence.

So, it’s nice and comfy for the drive to and from work, but how does it go with a load in the tray?

What’s it like for tradie use?

This Ranger’s tray is standard dual-cab tray size at 1549mm long (at the floor) and 1560mm wide, but it is 1139mm wide (between the wheel-arches) – and that’s not wide enough to cop an Aussie pallet, which is 1165mm wide.

From ground to floor load-height is 835mm and the rear opening is 1330mm wide.

There are four tie-down points in the tray – one at each corner – but no power sockets.

The lift-assist tailgate has a slow-ish drop to it when opened and is easy and smooth to lift and shift again. It has a manual lock.

To protect this ute’s rear window from potential damage when you’re carrying heavier, harder-edged loads, the tray is equipped with a cab guard, basically vertical metal struts that sit proud of the glass and are designed to somewhat shield that surface from the load in your tray if it shifts forward.

I wanted to load up the Ranger so I headed to our mates at Agriwest Rural CRT Bomaderry and we threw 780kg of horse feed in the tray. With that load onboard, the front of the Ranger lifted 30.5mm, and its rear-end dropped 77mm.

Add to that a, ahem, 90kg driver and assorted in-cabin gear and we were tickling 100kg in terms of cabin weight, so, with the load in the tray, that’s a total of 880kg onboard the XL.

  • We threw 780kg of horse feed in the tray. We threw 780kg of horse feed in the tray.
  • There are four tie-down points in the tray – one at each corner. There are four tie-down points in the tray – one at each corner.
  • This Ranger’s payload is listed as a decent 1230kg. This Ranger’s payload is listed as a decent 1230kg.

This Ranger’s payload is listed as a decent 1230kg. (Payload is gross vehicle mass – GVM, in this case 3200kg – minus the vehicle’s kerb weight, which, in this case, is 1970kg.) Remember: any payload figure has to take into account the combined weight of driver, passengers, pets, and all your gear, and, it’s worthwhile noting too, that if you decide to add any aftermarket gear to your ute – bullbar, canopy etc – that will also ‘eat into’ your vehicle’s payload capacity.

So, was the Ranger’s ride and handling at all adversely affected as a result of almost 900kg extra kilos in it? No, the bulky burden never registered in a negative way, but it did smooth out the ride even more and make it even more compliant than it was unladen.

The suspension remains settled, even through more pronounced speed bumps. As mentioned, our test vehicle did not have the optional $500 heavy-duty suspension pack, but it did fine and was very comfortable without the thicker rear springs, revised spring rates and specific ABS and ESC calibration. 

The Ranger performs consistently well in most aspects under load: steering continues with that nice light feel; the transmission held consistent speed going uphill – not kicking down or revving too harshly; and the 2.2-litre engine was never over-worked and always seemed to have grunt enough and be responsiveness enough to move the whole loaded-up Ranger along smoothly, with little to no stress. 

Any niggles that revealed themselves during the laden section of this drive had been evident during unladen drive loops – including that aforementioned low-speed drivetrain vibration, and marginal lag once your boot’s down etc – so the load couldn’t cop the blame for those lingering characteristics.

This Ranger was controlled and comfortable at all times – and, for the driver, knowing that, and getting that distinct impression consistently from your load-carrying vehicle inspires a lot of confidence.

How much fuel does it consume?

It has a listed fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km (combined). I recorded an actual on-test fuel consumption of 11.4L/100km after more than 200km of driving, including carrying that 780kg load through regional streets and roads.

It has an 80-litre tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Every Ranger comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Service intervals are recommended at 12 months/15,000km, 24 months/30,000km, 36 months/45,000km and 48 months/60,000km and, at time of writing, each appointment costs $299.

The Ranger XL 4x2 is always controlled and always comfortable. It has an impressive no-fuss approach to everything and combine that with its reliably grunty engine, smooth-shifting auto and a very restrained ride (for a ute) and you have a damn good dual-cab that makes a lot of sense as a real work truck.

$34,040

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

3.8/5
Price Guide

$34,040

Based on new car retail price