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Ford Ranger XLT 2019 review


Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5

Ford’s 2018 launch of its 2019 Ranger (or PX III) brought numerous upgrades and refinements, headlined by the availability of AEB and Ford’s new twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine with 10-speed auto being available as an option in the upper-shelf XLT and top-shelf Wildtrak variants.

This new engine and transmission made its Ranger debut in the Baja-inspired Raptor, which has earned widespread praise for its ‘desert racer’ chassis tuning and criticism of its underwhelming engine choice in equal measure.

However, to judge this new engine’s performance based purely on the Raptor is neither fair or accurate, as we discovered after testing the latest Ranger XLT. Fact is, with its much lighter weight and shorter gearing, the XLT offers punchier response and acceleration than the Raptor, along with higher payload and tow ratings.

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

Our test vehicle was the XLT dual cab 4x4 which starts at $59,390. However, it was enhanced with various factory options including Blue Lightning prestige paint ($600), leather-accented seats ($1650) and the XLT 'Tech Pack' ($1700) comprising a suite of dynamic safety features including AEB. These options push the price up to $63,340 which is only $650 short of the premium Wildtrak at $63,990. 

Our test vehicle was the XLT dual cab 4x4 which starts at $59,390. Our test vehicle was the XLT dual cab 4x4 which starts at $59,390.

However, if you’re a lover of chrome, the XLT offers more of it than any other grade. You’ll see your reflection in the grille, exterior door handles, tailgate handle, door mirrors, rear bumper and tubular rear sports bar. Thankfully, the chrome doesn’t extend to the wheels, which are 17-inch alloys with 265/65 road-biased tyres and a full-size spare.

Inside there are lots of useful items including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, rear privacy glass, six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat (should be powered at this price), dual-zone climate control and smart keyless entry/push button start to name a few.

And there’s the six-speaker multimedia system featuring 'Sync 3' voice-activated controls plus sat-nav, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Bluetooth and DAB+ digital radio. The big 8.0-inch colour touchscreen and its intuitive software sets an industry benchmark for ease of use.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Ranger’s rugged ladder-frame chassis rides on a big 3220mm wheelbase and with the XLT’s overall length of 5426mm and 1977mm overall width it remains one of the largest in the dual cab ute segment. 

The XLT is one of the largest in the dual cab ute segment. The XLT is one of the largest in the dual cab ute segment.

Coil-spring independent front suspension and a leaf-spring live rear axle combine with electrically power-assisted steering and front disc/rear drum braking to produce a well-rounded chassis package, with excellent ride and handling for such a high-riding vehicle. Front seating is spacious and comfortable while the rear is a bit of a squeeze for three adults, particularly the one in the middle who loses the paper-scissors-rock shoot-out.

The Ranger’s off-road highlights include 237mm of ground clearance, 29 degrees approach angle, 21 degrees departure angle, ramp break-over angle of 25 degrees, 800mm wading depth and 12.7-metre turning circle.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Ford’s latest member of the Ranger engine family is capable of meeting Euro 6 emissions with AdBlue, but it’s a simpler Euro 5 specification in Ranger. With the latest in sequential turbocharging, this engine produces 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm of torque within a 250rpm band between 1750-2000rpm.  As peaky as that may sound, in reality the two turbos working in sequence provide more than ample flexibility either side of this narrow band width. 

The 10-speed torque converter automatic’s closely-spaced gears have overdrive on the top three cogs for economical highway cruising and in Sport mode can be shifted manually via a small toggle switch on the side of the shifter. 


The engine produces 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm of torque within a 250rpm band between 1750-2000rpm. The engine produces 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm of torque within a 250rpm band between 1750-2000rpm.

Its low 4.7:1 first gear, combined with the part-time dual-range 4x4 transmission featuring shift-on-the-fly engagement, 2.7:1 low range reduction and 3.73:1 final drive, provides a useful 47:1 crawler gear for tackling the toughest off-road terrain. There’s also a rear diff lock.

 

How much fuel does it consume?

We put Ford’s fanciful combined figure of only 7.4L/100km to the test using trip meter and fuel bowser readings. Our first refill, after 538km, including a full GVM test, worked out at 10.65L/100km, which wasn’t far off the dash readout of 10.1. 

Our second refill, after 445km of mostly light and medium loads, improved slightly to 9.9L/100km compared to 9.7 on the XLT’s computer. So, based on our best figure, you could expect a realistic driving range of around 800km from its 80-litre tank.

How practical is the space inside?

The XLT’s kerb weight of 2197kg combined with its 3200kg GVM results in an excellent payload rating of 1003kg, which means it’s a genuine ‘one tonner’ in local ute lingo. 

The XLT’s kerb weight of 2197kg combined with its 3200kg GVM results mean it’s a genuine ‘one tonner’. The XLT’s kerb weight of 2197kg combined with its 3200kg GVM results mean it’s a genuine ‘one tonner’.

The load tub has a floor length of 1549mm and width of 1560mm, with 1130mm between the wheel arches. There are also four tie-down points, a 12-volt outlet, night-time illumination, a lift-assisted tailgate and protective liner

The XLT is also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, but when you deduct 3500kg from the XLT's 6000kg GCM rating (or the most you can legally tow and carry at the same time), that leaves only 2500kg. 

And if you then deduct the 2197kg kerb weight from that figure, you’re left with only 303kg of legal payload capacity. Which is enough for two to three adults  before you can think about adding luggage, so do your sums if you plan to tow this heavy.

We don’t know how some manufacturers work out their towing/GCM ratings, because they are often as rubbery as their fuel economy figures. Our best advice, for real world driving, is to interpret any 3500kg towing limit as a 3000kg limit, to give you much needed legal and safety margins.

Like all Rangers the XLT offers numerous cabin storage choices including a large bin and bottle holder in each front door, along with a single glove box and overhead glasses holder. The centre console has an open storage bin at the front, two bottle holders in the centre and a lidded box at the rear which is also cooled and doubles as an arm rest. 

Rear passengers get a storage bin and bottle holder in each door, but it's a bit of a squeeze for three adults. Rear passengers get a storage bin and bottle holder in each door, but it's a bit of a squeeze for three adults.

Rear passengers get a storage bin and bottle holder in each door, flexible storage pockets on the rear of each front seat and the centre armrest folds down to reveal two more cupholders. The lower seat cushion also swings up through 90 degrees and can be stored in an upright position if more internal floor load space is required.

What's it like to drive?

The Ranger is a comfortable drive around town. Ford has also done a good job with NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) suppression too, particularly with the 2.0-litre diesel and its under-bonnet surrounds.

It’s an excellent engine for this application, with acceleration that feels more energetic than the ‘high performance’ Raptor, even though they share the same drivetrain. The XLT fairly leaps away from standing starts at full-throttle and surges towards triple km/h figures with a vigour not shared by its desert raider cousin.

We can only put this down to two variables. One is the XLT’s superior power-to-weight ratio, because it’s a massive 135kg lighter. The other is that the Raptor’s larger diameter tyres result in slightly taller gearing. So if you want more get-up-and-go, the XLT would be the better option.

Acceleration feels more energetic than the ‘high performance’ Raptor, even though they share the same drivetrain. Acceleration feels more energetic than the ‘high performance’ Raptor, even though they share the same drivetrain.

The intelligent 10-speed auto is a smooth operator, with largely seamless shifts between its closely-spaced ratios. The over-driven top three are great for fuel economy at highway speeds although top gear in full lock-up seems a bit tall for this engine, given that peak torque is between 1750-2000rpm yet it’s only doing 1500rpm at 100km/h and 1600rpm at 110km/h.

You can also select ‘S’ for sport and shift gears manually using the toggle switch. However, we found it worked best when left in auto mode, as it quickly adapts its shift protocols to suite different driving styles and begins downshifting with enthusiasm when you start braking, particularly on steep descents.

We put the XLT’s 1003kg payload rating to the test by strapping 890kg into the tub, which combined with the driver resulted in a 990kg payload. The stout rear leaf springs compressed only 60mm (about half that of any coil-spring ute we’ve tested) resulting in a near-level ride height with plenty of rear bump-stop clearance.

With this load it maintained good handling and ride quality over a variety of sealed and unsealed roads. If anything, such a large amount of sprung weight improved the ride, with a hint of bottoming only being detected on the largest of washouts and road dips. 

It also powered effortlessly up our 13 percent gradient 2.0km set climb, self-shifting back to fourth gear at 2400rpm all the way to the top, with the right foot barely touching the accelerator pedal. Most impressive.

Engine braking on the way down, though, was minimal but not unusual for small capacity diesels. Our only other gripe was a slight but noticeable driveline shudder from standing starts between 0-10km/h. It was also evident when unloaded, only less noticeable. 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The PX Ranger earned its five-star safety rating in 2011 but according to issuer ANCAP the same rating applies to the PXII (2015) and PXIII (2019) successors. 

Passive safety includes front airbags and seat-side airbags for driver and front passenger plus full-cabin length side-curtain airbags. The dynamic stability control menu is extensive too, plus there’s LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and emergency assistance. 

The rear seat offers two child seat upper anchorage points and two ISOFIX anchorage points on the two outer positions.

Worth the extra spend, even though we reckon having to pay $1700 to improve your personal safety is rather elitist on Ford’s part, is the optional XLT Tech Pack. This includes, most importantly, AEB with pedestrian detection, plus adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert, auto high beam, driver impairment monitor, lane-keeping aid, semi-auto active park assist and traffic sign recognition.

(Update 26/9/19: In May 2019, Ford made AEB with pedestrian detection, forward collision alert, auto high beam, driver impairment monitor, lane keeping aid and traffic sign recognition standard on all Ranger variants. The optional Tech Pack adds active cruise control and auto parking for an extra $800. There's also more changes in store from December 2019.) 

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

The Ranger XLT is covered by Ford's five year/unlimited km warranty. Scheduled servicing is every 12 months/15,000km whichever occurs first. And capped pricing for first five scheduled services ranges from $360 to $555. Roadside assistance is available for up to seven years if the vehicle is serviced at a participating Ford dealer.

The 2019 Ranger XLT with twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel and 10-speed auto offers 10kW more power and 30Nm more torque than the venerable Duratorq 3.2 litre five-cylinder alternative, along with superior fuel economy. Although Aussies traditionally lean towards large capacity engines, based largely on perceptions that smaller ones have to work harder to do the same job, there was no evidence of that during our test.

Indeed, it hauled its one tonne payload up long and steep climbs with an effortless ‘you call this a hill?’ arrogance and with plenty in reserve. Pub-test perceptions are powerful things, of course, but so too is this new engine which makes light work of hard work.

Is 2.0-litre turbo-diesel power in a full-size ute enough for your liking? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

$50,290 - $74,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5
Price Guide

$50,290 - $74,990

Based on new car retail price