FORD RANGER XLT TEST DRIVE 2016
For as long as I can remember, any vehicle with a flatbed tray on the back is the domain of a tradesman or a farmer. I’ll even make an exception for people who work in forestry or mining, but that’s it. Not accountants, not insurance workers, not even newsagents who occasionally have to deliver newspapers in bulk on a Sunday morning. But times are changing and I was eager to find out whether the dual cab Ford Ranger would work in two ways… as an everyday family car and something you could take off road.
When you first get in the Ranger, there’s no getting away from how big it is. But nothing looks too big. The whole car is in proportion. You ride at a comfortable height, the interior is comfortable and family friendly. Yes, there’s more power outlets, storage and the fitting of a child’s seat is a little more complicated, but ultimately, it’s a normal car. If you don’t believe me about the size, allow me to demonstrate. On the left, a normal Volkswagen Golf, on the right, the Ford Ranger. Need I say more?
So off we went on a 5 hour road trip into the countryside, trying motorways, country lanes and dirt tracks. The Ranger coped with it all really well. Fuel consumption was good, and given my relatively low experience of diesels I was pretty impressed by this. The Sync 2 system is always a welcome addition in any Ford, but one part I really must mention is the pictures of motorway exits rather than just numbers which can be hard to keep track of. This really makes navigating any unknown roads a lot easier.
Next stop, the dirt roads and tracks out the back of beyond, where the Ranger showed no signs of slowing. There’s really no difference between this, as a ute, and any 4WD on the market. The wheel clearance is good, there’s no end to its grip and power. It doesn’t look out of place off road either. It’s big and burly and ploughs through any challenge you set it. It’s not often you set out to take a car like this on an off road adventure, you logically would stick to something like a Land Cruiser, Ranger Rover or Everest. This is as good as any of them in my opinion. Go and try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Space wise, there’s no surprise that there’s plenty of it. But that goes for in the car too. We did a weekend away with two adults and a pre-schooler and had no problem fitting everything in the cab, without using the back at all. If you’re a parent, you’ll know that this is no mean feat. In fact for us this also included a balance bike and enough food and drinks to last the weekend… amongst other things.
It’s interesting to drive a car like this in the city too. You don’t feel out of place as so many other people are doing the same thing. There’s plenty of other options on the market, but in my opinion, none of them look as good as the Ranger. My wife did the run to day care in the suburbs and loved it, so much so it’s now top of the list when it comes to getting a new car for our family. Parking was never a problem either, in fact, quite bizarrely I found it easier to park this than my normal car which is a midsize sedan. This was without using the reverse camera and I’m still not sure whether why I found it so easy. Granted there’s great visibility around all areas of the cars, but the Ranger turned me into a parallel parking genius!
So what were the quirky bits I liked? Firstly, the cup holders at the back of the car are great. You can drop the back door down, take a seat and enjoy a drink with somewhere to put it safely. Don’t do what I did though, and put my coffee in there to take a photo to illustrate said cup holders, then drive away and only discover the empty cup and the remains of my coffee in the tray 3 hours later and several kilometers down the road.
The windscreen wipers didn’t work as well as I would have hoped for a car of this size. I’m not sure whether they were small, or just seemed small because of the size of the car. But something with a bit more power would have been appreciated.
There’s no escaping the height of this car, but good news if you are vertically challenged, the step to get it in is big, wide and very helpful when it comes to getting a leg up into the seats.
If you’re ever wondered what it would be like to cruise around in one of those trucks that you only ever seemed to see in TV shows based in America, then this could be the car for you. Alternatively, if you just want a vehicle with plenty of scope for travelling with lots of luggage, this also could be the car for you. Long gone are the days of utes being just for work, there very much a car to consider for families.