New Single & Super Cab Rangers set to ruffle bakkie feathers
Ford South Africa has just unveiled all new Single and Super Cab workhorse variants of its next generation Ranger bakkies. An important launch for Ford, this group of vehicles make up a large portion of Ford’s local revenue. These bakkies will also play a formidable role in the continued development of our country.
The question lies with whether or not this next generation of workhorses from Ford will be able to continue holding up that large portion of our economy as well, or better, than the previous generation did. Well, after spending three days on an epic road trip from Gqeberha to Johannesburg, with these new bakkies I think I have the answer.
Ranger workhorses impresses from the outside
Ford’s more North American approach to this next generation of Rangers has resulted in a handsome looking bakkie. The new Ranger can be identified by a stronger, boxier appearance with muscular haunches, and an imposing front. It consists of a prominent grille and C-clamp headlamps, which take inspiration from the F150.
Even the base spec XL workhorse models with its halogen headlights and less shiny bits, bring a utilitarian and minimalistic appearance. Ford has achieved a substantial yet recognisable evolution when it comes to styling. These bakkies really look like they mean business…
Step into the next gen Ranger and you’re met with an impressive new cabin, highlighted by a large portrait infotainment screen. You’ll settle into comfortable seats and a far more accommodating driving position thanks to the increased reach and rake adjustability of the steering wheel.
Almost as impressive on the inside
Practicality has improved, especially when it comes to goodie storage. For instance, we found the addition of a shelf-like nook in the dash in front of the passenger to be highly useful for passengers to store their cell phone, keys and wallet. It really helps declutter the cabin.
When comparing to the previous generation, the real improvement comes across in the lower spec models. I consider to the new one to be light years ahead of previous generation’s base spec models. However, I felt that there wasn’t enough of a step up in quality, the higher you go up the range. The quality of interior components used on the Wildtrak are not that much better than you’ll find in the base-spec XL models for instance. A variety of different types of hard plastics used all over the cabin leads to a slightly messy fit and finish, and a less sturdy cabin than I’d expected.
Another minor concern is that the seats don’t fold very far forward, which can be quite annoying when loading items in and out from behind the seats. Single Cab models also seems to have less space behind the seats than the predecessor, which could be annoying if you need to store anything that you wouldn’t want exposed to the elements, or theft.
Great tech aces minor quality concerns
One area where the next generation Ranger really shines, is in its abundance of new technology. You’ll even find a 10.1-inch infotainment screen as standard in base spec models. Packing Ford’s SYNC 4A software, it wirelessly accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a majorly improved audio system. Tradesmen and delivery drivers rejoice!
Move up the range and you’ll be impressed to discover even more, useful technology. Wireless charging, high-definition 360-degree cameras, multiple drive modes and towing luxuries, auto high beams, fully adaptive cruise control, roll over mitigation, active park assist, trailer inclusive BLIS with cross traffic alert, shift on the fly 4×4, FordPass Connect with remote start, trailer light check, and way, way more. And that large centre screen becomes even larger, and crisper at 12 inches in the Wildtrak.
Despite the sheer amount of new tech, Ford has somehow managed to keep it all from becoming overwhelming: adaptive lane keep assist is easy to turn off, and the infotainment system is simple to navigate. Ford really is paving the way when it comes to technology in this segment.
workhorse shines on, and off of the road
Another area where the new Ford Ranger continues to impress is in ride quality. Driving long distances in the new Single and Super Cab Ranger felt effortless in comparison to its predecessor and certain rival bakkies. The ride is smooth, silent, and very well composed over rough terrain.
The real improvement once again is seen in the base spec XL Single Cab which is notably more refined than its predecessor. Road and wind noise is significantly decreased inside the cabin. You no longer need half a ton on the back before the ride becomes somewhat comfortable.
The next gen Ranger really comes into its own on rough and rutted dirt roads. I found it to be surprisingly playful. It didn’t throw me around anywhere near as much as previous generations did.
The improved ride quality is well accompanied by Ford’s trusty two-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. The single turbo derivatives produce 125 kW and 405 Nm, whilst the BiTurbo option churns out a more than capable 154 kW and 500 Nm. Both engines have a smooth power delivery and a lot of low-down torque. All of which makes them exceptionally easy to drive.
Capable and efficient drivetrains
The base spec single turbo derivative is surprisingly capable. Overtaking is easy, and if you needed to you can happily cruise at well over highway speeds. Unless you find yourself frequently loading your Ranger to capacity, or towing more than 2 tons, there’s virtually no need to go for biturbo over the single turbo when you consider the money that can be saved.
New Ranger workhorses are available with either six or 10-speed automatic gearboxes. Or with an all-new 6-speed manual that is sturdy, and easy to operate with a nicely weighted clutch. All variants of the Single and Super Cab Rangers have a load capacity of either slightly below or slightly above 1 ton, and a braked towing capacity of 3,500kg, which is in line with industry standards.
What really surprised me was the fuel efficiency we managed throughout this road trip. Driving the Single Cab SiT XL 4×2 Auto, I achieved 6.1L/100km at an average speed on 120km/h. And as you can probably tell by that average, I wasn’t even trying to keep consumption down! Had we kept speed slightly lower and used more momentum where available, I’m certain that my consumption would have dipped below 6 l/100km.
BiTurbo derivatives similarly managed impressive figures at under 8 l/100km most of the time, almost regardless of how much fun we had. If fuel economy is a serious personal or business concern, we’d I definitely recommend one of these Rangers.
Pricing is the workhorse cherry on top
Perhaps the most compelling argument in Ranger’s favour is that Ford has somehow undercut its main workhorse rival when it comes to pricing. Expect to save about R20k+ throughout the range when comparing like-for-like with Hilux.
The outlier in this case is the Super Cab Wildtrak, which you can get for R772 800 vs Toyota’s Xtra Cab Hilux Legend which starts at R734 500. Ford argues that their flagship Super Cab stands completely alone in this segment when it comes to tech and capability, with which we must concur considering its rival’s is becoming apparent.
Even better is that Single and Super Cab variants are tax deductible in business use cases, saving you a further 15% in South Africa.
Is Ford finally onto Toyota here? It’s delivered a compelling product that virtually stands alone against allcomers in this workhorse category. And they’ve kept prices down in the process. This new generation Ranger will certainly be a tough act to follow.
Now let’s wait and see how Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and the rest have to say in response… – Giordano Lupini