Long-term test intro: Getting back to basics with Ford Ranger XL double cab

Published May 26, 2023


Pretoria - Time to get back to basics with our recently delivered long-term Ford Ranger XL 4x2 manual double-cab bakkie.

I say basic but it’s got a lot of gizmos and add-ons not always available on entry-level bakkies. At R540 500, it’s got to be the popular choice in the range and possibly the best value for money in that segment of the double-cab market.

It’s also refreshing to drive a bakkie that doesn’t have every possible tech or option that does everything for you except make coffee in the mornings.

It doesn’t have fancy decals, go-fast stripes or specific branding that pegs it as the XL and neither does it have a V6 or twin turbo; it has a single turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine.

There have been some muted grumblings on the internet about Ford doing away with the 2.2 diesel motor when it launched the next-gen Ranger but it’s slightly up on power, with 125kW (118kW) and 405Nm (385Nm) of torque.

It’s also a much smoother engine in its power delivery compared to the previous generation.

Keeping it real, our bakkie doesn’t have an automatic transmission either but rather a good old-fashioned clutch that allows you to change through the six-speed ’box when you decide to.

You get Ford’s global truck design DNA, with the C-clamp headlight design and new grille. Judging from recent sales, South Africans are loving it.

There are a few things I’m not particularly fond of when it comes to all the technology that manufacturers load into cars. Sometimes, it gives the impression that it’s there just because someone developed it even though it doesn’t make a significant difference to the ride quality or ownership.

Despite my initial scepticism about the FordPass app, I’ve found it to be a handy addition to my phone and the bakkie.

As I’m writing this, I’m driving another test car but if I go on the app, I can see where it’s parked, the odometer reading, distance to empty and oil life remaining. If I’ve forgotten something inside the car, I’m able to unlock the door and lock it again remotely.

It also gives me the car’s service history and allows me to schedule a service when the time arrives. On automatic Rangers, you can start and stop the engine remotely, allowing the air conditioning to warm or cool the cabin before you climb in.

The interior isn’t as fancy as its more expensive siblings but the cloth seats and hard-wearing plastics don’t make that much of a difference. You get the digital instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch touch screen that dominates the centre of the dash, providing the new Sync 4A system with voice-activated communications that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

The new Ranger has the front wheels 50mm forward over the previous model, which is good for a better approach angle that, hopefully, we will be able to test at a later date if we get a 4x4 version.

The rear suspension dampers have been moved outboard of the frame rails and it’s amazing how a small tweak like that can make a difference.

I’ve had extensive experience with the previous generation Ranger and the difference in driving, especially gravel roads, is remarkable.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to change gears manually but the clutch is gentle on your leg during peak hour and blackout gridlock. Ford had done a sterling job to get the engine and gear ratios just right.

Our bakkie is fitted with extra cargo tie-down points on steel tube rails which I hope to use shortly when fetching a bulky accessory I purchased for my own Land Rover Defender.

The only thing I miss in the cargo area is a 12V plug that would be handy for accessories like a fridge when the rear seats are occupied.

Consumption after a tank of diesel stands at 8.1l/100km, which, considering that the engine has only done just over 1 000km and I’ve been seeing how it accelerates through the gears (very nicely, thank you), isn’t bad at all.

On a longer haul to Mpumalanga later next month, it will probably show better figures, proving that you don’t always need to have oodles of power and top-end luxury to own a decent bakkie.

It comes standard with a four-year/120 000 km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty.

The service and maintenance plans are not included but you have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 165 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km.