Ford Ranger XLT : Review & Road Test
Review by Michael Tancredi - 23 November 2016
The Ford Ranger Commercial / Truck has been around on the international stage since 1971. There have been a number of builds since that time and the current PX MKII version, offers more variations than ever. We counted 37 configuration options, from the basic 4x2 XL Single Cabin Chassis through to the top of the range 4x4 Wildtrak Double Cab Pick-up. Models can be mixed and matched with a 2.2L or 3.2L Duratorq TDCi engine, 6-speed automatic or manual transmission, a range of chassis types - you'll be spoiled for choice.
The price ranges from $27,390 to $60,090 which can be further increased, depending on the model, by around $8,000 if you add all the extras and the XLT Pack.
The Ranger has historically been, and still is, your classic workhorse. Built for strength and durability, with heaps of torque and carrying/towing capacity, the Ranger has been amongst the tradesmen's choice of work vehicle. In more recent years however, these type of duel cabin vehicles have been increasing in popularity outside of the commercial arena.
We took the Ranger 3.2L XLT out for a spin recently and were very impressed by it's looks and overall performance.
The Ford Ranger XLT is a very comfortable vehicle to drive. The driver sits relatively high off the road and has an excellent view in all directions as well as a clear view of all instrumentation. The vehicle provides a smooth but soft ride on all road surfaces and the suspension handles unsealed roads effortlessly. On sealed roads just about every bump was felt in the cabin. Road noise up through the tyres was negligible at lower speeds but as the speed climbed passed 60kpm there was a commitment increase in road noise. While not excessive it was noticeable.
The shape of the bonnet slopes sufficiently so that it doesn't present a visual distraction to the driver and obstruct close forward vision making it relatively easy to see obstacles forward of the vehicle when manoeuvring. However, the front sensors to prove invaluable.
The 3.2L 5-cylinder engine is fairly responsive but tends to be a tad slow on the uptake. Plant the foot and there's a bit of a lag and there's a short but noticeable build up before acceleration kicks in. The six speed automatic transmission responds smoothly and changes to the appropriate gear when faced with hills and steep grades. Manual (or Sport) mode can be engaged at any time and is next to seamless. In manual mode responsiveness through the gears can be improved slightly particularly if needing more power and acceleration up an incline and it is a useful tool if you want to use it to drop down through the gears to assist braking.
We took the XLT over a mixture of terrains: freeways, suburban streets and up and down winding country roads and some off-road 4X4 driving (engaged 4H). We pushed it into corners and accelerated out of bends and drove over sealed and unsealed roads under wet and dry conditions. Off-road we took it over mildly undulating, wet and muddy paddocks. It performed extremely well on all surfaces. The vehicle held it's line beautifully under hard braking at various speeds although we did experience some body roll when pulling out of a bend or chicane at speed. Over rough terrain we did bounce about a bit in the cabin but during general driving everything was generally smooth sailing although we did feel most of the small dips and deviations in the road surface. We also found a lot of give in the brake peddle and it felt a tad spongy. Something to get used to.
There are two engine sizes available across the range; the 2.2L 4-cylinder and the 3.2L 5-cylinder turbocharged direct commonrail injection diesel engines. The 2.2L engine outputs 110kW of power at 3700rpm and generates torque of 375Nm @ 1500-2500rpm and the 3.2L engine outputs 147kW of power at 3000rpm and generates torque of 470Nm @ 1500-2750rpm.
The engine come coupled with either a 6-speed manual or automatic (with Sport) transmission systems.
The stated average fuel consumption depends on the model but can range from 6.6L/100km to 10.6L/100km. Our test drive vehicle stated average fuel consumption of 9.2L/100km. According to the on-board computer we clocked it at 11.1L/100km over suburban streets, highways and freeways and a bit of off-road. This is not too wide a difference.
CO2 claimed emission depends on the model but can range from 172g/km to 256g/km. As a guide, the Australian national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 192g/km [Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2013 : Information Paper May 2014*]. Only seven of the 37 models came in under this average. The majority exceeded and at the outer range by 64g/100km. Our test vehicle came in at the top end of the range. For those conscious of their CO2 footprint can represent a very poor result.
(*The represents a 3.4% reduction from the results of the 2012 Guide.)
The Ford Ranger is a big mother. Our XLT over-hung a suburban shopping centre car parking bay with little room either side to open the doors without a bit of a squeeze. Driving in and reversing out can be a challenge and we were thankful for the camera and parking assist warnings. The cabin area was large as was the pick-up box. The overall dimensions for the XLT are: 5351 mm long, 1821 mm high and 1850 mm wide, with a wheelbase of 3220 mm and a turning circle of 12.7 metres (kerb to kerb). While it doesn't have the the largest box area (the single cabin model has that) but it still offers quite a large cargo area measuring, 1549 mm floor length, 1560 mm width and 511 mm height.
The Ford Ranger has a formidable presence. The XLT comes standard with tow-bar, front and rear mud flaps, sports bar, auto headlamps, front fog lamps, large external mirrors that are heated and power folding and to round it out, puddle lamps. The cargo box includes inner and outer tie downs, a bed-liner with a 12V socket. It also comes standard with sports bar, bedliner and tow bar.
Because the cabin sits relatively high off the ground steps are a must to get into and out of the cabin with ease. Steps are not standard on every model but they do come standard with the XLT. They are toughened plastic with a ridged finish. We found a bit of care was required when the steps were wet because they can become slippery. The XLT sits on 17" alloy wheels.
The body of the XLT (excluding the chrome grill and surrounds, chrome rear bumper feature and chrome features on the side mirrors) is composed of one solid colour. Our test vehicle was finished in Meteor Grey. There are seven colours from which to choose.
The Ford Ranger has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating with an overall score of 36.72 out of 37.
Standard on the Ranger 4x4 range are: driver and front passenger airbags and driver and passenger side airbags and driver and side curtain airbags.
Other standard safety features on the 4X4 models include:
A Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system that incorporates:
- anti-lock braking system (ABS);
- traction control system (TCS); which optimises grip and stability on the road during acceleration by measuring wheel rotation and stops wheel spin;
- emergency brake assist (EBA), which fully applies the brakes when it senses and emergency stopping situation;
- trailer sway control (TSC); which helps prevent a towed trailer or caravan from swaying from side to side;
- load adaptive control (LAD); which takes into account the loading condition of the vehicle and ensures the DSC is then applied appropriately;
- roll over mitigation (ROM); that recognises an impending rollover situation and selectively applies brakes to resist;
- hill descent control (HDC); which when activated makes steep grades more safe by maintaining a constant speed while descending; and,
- hill launch assist (HLA); which holds the vehicle in a stationary position for a few seconds until the accelerator is applied.
The Ford Ranger XLT comes standard with front (x4) and rear (x4) acoustic and visual parking sensors and rear view camera. It also has a bright flashing red light array that reflects off the windscreen in front of the driver if approaching forward vehicles too quickly.
The interior of the Ford Ranger XLT takes it way beyond the concept of the traditional truck, which is confined to one that get a work team from one work location to another loaded with all the required tools, paraphernalia and accessories and over all sorts of work sites and terrains. The XLT better fits ones idea of a large family mover with heaps of cabin space and with enormous cargo carrying capacity; a large family vehicle for the family that loves getting off the beaten track for weekends (or longer) away.
The XLT comfortably seats up to five adult passengers with more than sufficient leg, head and elbow room. The seats are comfortable and the drivers and passenger seat are adjusted manually. The rear seat has a large, fold-down armrest with cup holders. Also, available to the rear passengers is a 230V/150W power outlet plus a 12V power source.
The entertainment console is centred around an 8" colour touch screen. It is free from clutter, has a limited number of buttons and dials and sports a clean layout. Input is via AM/FM, a single CD player, AUX and USB (x2) and sound is delivered via a 9-speaker system. When you ratchet up the volume you can get a good thumping bass and a clear crisp mid and high range. The vehicle has Bluetooth® connectivity which includes Bluetooth® music streaming.
The XLT comes standard with the SYNC®3 in-car connectivity system. The system incorporates three distinct ways to interact: through the colour touch screen, physical buttons and voice control. In addition to the satellite navigation system, a driver can also control the car's entertainment system, climate control and linked mobile devices with voice commands. Given that all the key functions (Sat Nav, Climate Control, Entertainment & Phone) can be digitally managed having separate analogue climate systems seems to be overkill. In addition, SYNC®3 allows seamless integration via programs such as Applink 3.03, Apple Car Play4 and Android Auto5 to features on your mobile devices.
The duel climate control is simple in design and intuitive to use and has sufficient power to quickly heat or cool the small cabin depending on settings.
Although classified as a commercial / truck vehicle the Ford Ranger XLT looks a tad too luxurious to be a plain old garden variety work-horse. With more than ample room in the cabin for five to travel in a reasonable level of comfort and style and with enough internal features to make a long drive a breeze, the XLT, if not used for work, is probably better suited for the adventurous couple or adventurous family who like to get off-road more often than not.
For it's size and powered by a 3.2L diesel engine it can't be considered a diesel guzzler although it's not what you'd consider as having the smallest of environmental footprints either.
If size is your thing and you take a lot with you on your travels and you like to get off-road now and then a Ford Ranger XLT may be worth taking for a test drive.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Ford dealer.
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