The Ford Ranger 2.2-litre TDCi Auto certainly impressed the socks off us and recent sales figures for the other derivatives introduced earlier this year seem to concur.
If all you are interested in, is taking part in 4×4 trail events, we’ve mentioned previously that despite its 230mm ground clearance and impressive approach and departure angles the Ranger is a little bulky and not as nimble on the trail as a few of its competitors. Other than that, what’s not to love?
With the addition of Ford’s Ranger nine new 2.2 auto variants, the line-up has increased to an impressive 36 derivatives. This includes the only single-cab bakkie paired with an automatic gearbox in SA in its segment.
At the launch of the 2.2-litre automatic in Mossel Bay, we got to drive two double-cab derivatives, the high-spec XLT 2×4 and the mid-range XLS 4×4. Here are our thoughts.
Hey Good Looking
Although this is clearly subjective, the Ranger is the most handsome bakkie on the road. The exterior lines just work, it has presence without being as ‘in your face’ as the beefy American rigs.
The first interior that we explored was that of the leather clad, XLT. Although we wouldn’t put in the same category as the most luxurious German or Swedish brands, the interior is pleasant with a hint of upper-class. The seats are plush and all the buttons and dials have that sturdy good-quality appeal. We enjoyed using the touchscreen and in particular the voice activated commands. I adjusted the temperature without having to take my hands off the steering wheel and once my phone was synced, this feature could be used to make calls too.
The interior of the XLS was not quite as snazzy as the XLT but it has a very comfortable, almost friendly appeal. It also has a smaller screen with limited features and a slightly different console, but of course none of this affects the quality of the drive.
Leg room at the back of the double-cab is more than ample and from inside the vehicle you could be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in a regular sedan.
On the Road
This is where Ford managed to impress us the first time around. You climb into the bakkie, knowing what it should feel like to drive and yet on the tar, it just doesn’t feel like you are driving a bakkie. It’s very comfortable – perhaps that’s an understatement, it beats the Hilux in that department hands down. Unless you plan to bundu bash your way across the continent, this is an important consideration. The Ranger handles the tar with aplomb and is a pleasure to cruise around in. The automatic transmission mated with the diesel engine performs as expected on the road and doesn’t struggle to find the right gear, although on the gravel we found it to be a little more finicky. The 2.2-litre TDCi engine, the same one that is used in the manual version, is more than capable of propelling the vehicle along smoothly and meeting any of the requirements of a regular drive. The mill produces 118kW of power and a peak torque of 385Nm, which is more than adequate.
Of course it is nice to have a really torquey machine with additional power at your disposal, but that is where you need to distinguish between a want and a need. On the up side the, not exactly dinky, smaller engine still has the same towing capacity of 3500kg as the larger 3.2-litre that powers the Wildtrack, and it has better fuel economy. We averaged 9.1-litres per 100/km covering a range of surfaces, from highway tar and byway gravel to some off-roading on sand dunes, switching between 2×4 and 4×4 mode. Ford describes this engine as the ‘ideal balance of fuel efficiency and performance’. There you have it. Enough said.
This is where we straight out recommend the 4×4 over the 2×4. The difference is immediately apparent. Coming off the tar we had been in 2×4 mode and drove for about a kilometer at 60km/h on a very undulating gravel road, over humps and dips with a fair amount of loose gravel on the surface. Although it was a long way from being out of control, the Ranger felt perceptibly loose at the tail end. Then we switched to 4H and immediately felt the difference in stability, as all-four wheels worked together to provide the desired traction. The automatic gear box fared well ninety-five percent of the time, but we did find it that it could have geared down a bit quicker on a couple of the sudden rises.
Picture a rugged, stretch of property banking the ocean at Vleesbaai, south of Mossel Bay. Here tufts of grass and reed cling to the sand and pathways meander through this loose forest of grass until the vegetation parts near the ocean to reveal towering, wind-sculpted dunes. It’s here in on this privately owned piece of paradise that we got to play. With reduced tyre pressure, we selected 4H, slipped the 2.2-litre Ranger 4×4 automatic into manual mode and headed for the sand.
In an effort to be ecologically sensitive we were told to try not to churn up the soft sand too much and to stick the the paths. My co-driver loves driving on the sand (I must admit that I am growing increasingly fond of the experience too) and so she took the wheel for the first section doing a marvelous job as we bounced along happily – up and over, round and down. When my turn came the size of the rises had grown and I was encourage to ‘give it horns’ (yeehah) as we powered up the sand. Bliss. The Ranger had no problem tackling the powdery surface and in a nutshell it was just pure fun.
We enjoyed every minute of driving the Ford Ranger 2.2-litre Auto and kudos to Ford for really covering all the bases when it comes to finding a Ranger to suit every conceivable need a bakkie driver may have. We also have to acknowledge the company’s clever decision to fit a towbar standard across the entire range, saving customers the cost of fitment and ensuring that the towbar is not a sub-standard aftermarket product.
Ranger 2.2 Automatic – Prices
2.2 TDCi XL Single Cab 4×2 Auto R311 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Single Cab 4×4 Auto R426 900
2.2 TDCi XL Super Cab 4×2 Auto R357 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4×2 Auto R411 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4×4 Auto R472 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4×2 Auto R384 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4×4 Auto R426 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Double Cab 4×4 Auto R517 900
2.2 TDCi XLT Double Cab 4×2 Auto R482 900
Service intervals are 20 000 km as opposed to the usual 10 000 to 15 000 km from other manufacturers. There is also a five-year/100 000 km service plan on all but the entry-level models.