The Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford’ global manufacturing plan has put paid to separate American and international versions of the Ranger. Ford has replaced them with one car that was designed and developed mostly in Australia, will be assembled in Thailand, Argentina and SouthAfrica, and will be sold in 180 global markets. Oddly, the US isn’t among them.
It’s a vehicle with a unitary steel body on a ladder frame, suspended by leaf springs and a live axle at the rear. By passenger car standards that sounds primitive, but for a pick-up expected to carry heavy loads on a flat load bay floor down severely rutted tracks, tow several tonnes and have the wheel articulation for proper off-roading, it’s accepted convention and the best technological solution available.
Regular Cab, Double Cab and Super Cab versions of the Ranger are available, the last being more of a two-plus-two set-up than the Double Cab. A Regular Cab Ranger has the most outright carrying capacity, with a 2.3m-long load bay that can accommodate more than 1800 litres of covered cargo weighing just over 1.3 tonnes if needs be. Our test car, however, is the range-topping Double Cab Wildtrak.
Underneath, the Ranger’s frame is longer and wider than before. It’s twice as stiff, too, and is mounted to the body via hydraulic fluid-filled rubber bushes for the best possible rolling refinement. Front suspension switches from torsion springs to coil-overs and wishbones, again for better ride tuning. There’s now sound insulation in the doors, underbody and roof, and double door seals for better wind insulation.
The Ranger is also the first pick-up to score a five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating. All this is intended to make it more agreeable to passenger car tax exiles.
Power comes from a choice of 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engines, developed from those found in the Transit range. They drive through the rear wheels unless you switch to four-wheel drive, which you can do at up to 70mph. There’s a low-range transfer case too, with reduction gearing of 2.48:1 but no locking rear differential. Ford claims its latest traction control system is good enough to do the job of an old-fashioned lockable diff.