This month we’re showcasing the all-new (for New Zealand) Ranger, the replacement for the Courier which has served the needs of the “tradie” for the past 25 years.
Now we all know enough not to get too sentimental over a vehicle, but a quarter of a century is a long time for a single name plate and, as such, the Courier deserves some recognition.
So, one blank line out of respect — the writer’s equivalent of a moment’s silence — for the Courier please.
All sadness at Courier’s passing aside, Ford New Zealand is, not surprisingly, excited about the new Ranger for a variety of reasons.
First up, Ranger showcases two new engines for Father Ford — a 2.5 turbocharged, common rail diesel and the “Chuck Norris” of Ranger engines, the 3-litre turbo diesel.
We hope to get our paws on a 3-litre version very soon, but we’re impressed enough with the “supposedly entry level” 2.5.
Eliminating turbo lag
Ford’s cottoned on to the variable geometry turbocharger, which virtually eliminates turbo lag. Put your foot down and go, which is great when your cargo tray is empty and you’re commuting, but equally as important when you want smooth takeoffs with heavy cargoes aboard.
You want to know the power stats? OK; maximum power of 105kW is found at 3500rpm and you get 330Nm of torque at 1800rpm. For the trainspotters, that puts power up 22% and torque 28% compared with an equivalent-sized engine with indirect injection.
Considering this is not the hero engine, the level of smoothness and sophistication might fool you.
Combine it with the five-speed manual transmission that was in our test cab chassis 2WD model, and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about with the 3-litre.
Easy and quick acceleration, plenty of willing-to-work attitude and a sense of ongoing durability make the 2.5-litre mill a real pleasure to drive, especially on long hauls.
And we did a long haul trip. Partly because we needed to, and partly because Ford’s marketing bumphsays the new Ranger is tailored to those who want more of a workhorse/lifestyle truck than a mere workhorse. It’s designed to be more car-like.
There has been particular attention paid to the seats in the new Ranger. The rest of the cabin is very tidy, very practical and easy to maintain, as well as being intuitive in its instrument and control placement. But it’s the seats that’ll love yer bum, to swipe a phrase.
Ford says the seats feature a new, more sculpted back, more supportive bolsters and larger headrests. We say the seats keep you fresh on long drives, and we went to Wellington and back to prove it.
Usually on a trip like this, at about 100km intervals, we’d change drivers.
We could comfortably stretch that distance out in the new Ranger, and when one wasn’t driving, catching 40 winks was as easy as counting sheep — and this is a cab chassis model remember!
We had to keep telling ourselves that.
Like driving a car
There were times when Ranger’s truckiness came out, but for the most part it was, indeed, like driving a car — with a whopping great boot!
However, unlike many cars of today, you always have a good idea of where the front of the ute is in relation to everything else.
The squared off nose leaves no doubt that this is the front of your vehicle and yet there’s something very satisfying about looking at the horizon over the nose of a Ranger.
Part of the car-ness of the Ranger is down to the independent double-wishbone suspension. Part of the ute-ness of the Ranger is down to the extended long leaf springs. Between these two elements, you can carry your cargo with all the creature comforts.
All cleverness aside, Ranger has a minimum payload of 1100kg across the range, and can tow — in 4×4 form anyway — up to 3000kgs. That’ll give you some idea of the power in those Duratorq engines.
It’s interesting to note though, that the Ranger pick-up overseas was the first pick-up with passenger airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS) in 1998.
Our Ranger now goes a step further in safety when it becomes the first truck in New Zealand to offer dual side airbags in addition to front driver and passenger airbags (on the XLT models).
Having said that, and while it’s cool to have a truck which offers everything it can in terms of safety, if your budget or your needs are for a cab chassis which is as much at home in the suburbs as it is on the site, the Ranger 2.5 will certainly make you smile.
As will the price. The Ranger cab chassis XL 2WD recommended retail is $34,390.