The overall score that we give it is good (four stars), and unsurprisingly, exactly the same score we gave the Ford Ranger. After all, the Ranger and BT-50 are very similar vehicles. Both are powered by an impressive five-cylinder 3,2-litre oilburner that pushes out 147 kW and 470 Nm of torque. Both models boast good automatic gearboxes. Both sport tons of off-road gadgets. And both are large and imposing bakkies with loads of space in the rear of the cabin and in the load area.
Are there any differences between the two bakkies? Yes. Firstly, the BT-50 arguably has a nicer looking interior. It’s similar to that of the Ranger, but it is just a touch more refined. Secondly, the BT-50 is marginally more expensive than the Ranger, presumably because it is being positioned more as a lifestyle vehicle, while the Ranger is the workhorse. Finally, and most importantly, the BT-50 looks very different from the Ranger. The sheet metal might be hiding the same basic components, but the two bakkies don’t look similar at all.
There are very few differences between the BT-50 and Ranger, but their differences in styling seem to be having quite an effect on how they are perceived – a much bigger effect than it really should. While most journalists and potential buyers only have praise for the Ranger, they seem to be more skeptical about the BT-50. Why is that? Does it all come down to styling? And why do so many bakkie buyers find fault with the BT-50’s styling? Granted, it is unusual. The Ranger definitely has more of a conventional bakkie design that would appeal to the conservative double cab buyer, but I don’t find the design to be downright ugly. I actually quite like it.
In order to appreciate the BT-50, it is important not to see it as a traditional double cab, but as a lifestyle vehicle aimed at coaxing drivers out of SUVs. The Ranger is there for the traditional bakkie fan. The BT-50 will appeal, I think, to people who want something that is both funky and practical – something that fits in with an “adventure lifestyle”.
Weekend warriors, your bakkie has arrived.