We took delivery of our Ranger over a month ago now and we have only just racked up a 1,000Klm's, a combination of pre-Christmas chaos and the fact that the vehicle isn't used on a day to day basis meant that putting mileage on the vehicle has alluded us, but what have we found so far?
Well to start with the Ford Ranger XLT is a bloody nice car to drive, the steering is positive with just the right amount of pressure needed on the wheel to let you know you're in control, the brakes are good, plenty of stopping power and good feel not like the spongy set up on the old Prado. The adaptive cruise control is something that takes us one step closer to autonomous vehicles and it took me a little bit of a mindset adjustment to let the car take charge. There are four settings for the distance between you and the car in front and this moves further apart as the vehicle speed increases. Setting the cruise control takes a couple of button presses longer than a normal cruise control in that, first you turn it on and set the speed, like normal but then you have to set the distance between you and the car in front, although I suspect that once you have found a setting you're happy with you wouldn't need to touch this button again. A short drive down the Hume highway was a great chance to test the system and it seems to work very well, I've never really been a fan of 'Cruise' as I do enjoy driving but for sections of road like the Hume highway on double demerit points weekends it will be invaluable. The lane assist function, when set on the mildest of settings, appears to not do much, when you let go of the wheel it will allow the car to drift into the next lane by a fairly significant margin before gently steering the car back to where it should be, in my mind this is a fail but I will test on the stronger setting when I get the chance to do a longer drive.
I haven't done any fuel consumption figures as the car is so new and it's only been running around town, we picked it up with a quarter of a tank in it from the dealership and have put about $150 in it since. Once it's loosened up a bit and we can do some longer trips I'll report on some mileage figures although it would appear at this stage that the standard tank is good for about 750Klm's according to the cars fuel indicator.
One thing that gets a special mention is the Bluetooth handsfree kit, it works so well. My wife was out in the car and I rang her to inform her of the beer emergency at home and could she get more supplies when she informed me that she had already left the shops, I didn't believe her as there was zero sign of the usual background road-noise, well done Ford.
We have fitted some accessories for the vehicle, most of which are very minor. So the first thing we did was install our Hema HN7 navigation system. We've had it for about four years and it works well and one day I'll get around to writing a detailed review on the unit and post it here. One of the annoying things with the unit is the power cable so we used cable ties to tidy it up and attach to certain points on the dash. We also added a dash mat from Super Cheap Autos, it is a super neat fit and cost us $45. Whilst I don't particularly like the look of them they are worth every cent to protect the dash I reckon and as a bonus, they reduce reflections in the windscreen as well as stopping the things that seem to accumulate on the dash on longer trips from sliding around.
The big spend for us so far has been the addition of the ARB Ascent canopy and Rhino Pioneer platform. The Ascent canopy is an extremely well-constructed piece of kit and looks like it was part of the car from the factory, impressive. The Rhino platform is rated to 100kgs in this configuration and it's lower than the vehicles radio antenna so it's no problem fitting inside our garage at home. We have only done about 200 kilometres with canopy and haven't loaded anything on the platform so I can't give much of a review only to repeat myself and say that the build quality is very, very impressive. We can't wait to fit it out and hit the road and I'll be sure to add more about the canopy as it travels with us. Total cost was $6,239.00 which isn't cheap but we didn't want it to look like an add-on. If we had the money we would have gone for a Norweld canopy and tray combo but we just didn't have $30K to drop on it.
We've put our 75 litre Dometic Dual Zone fridge in the back with dual battery chores taken care of by an ArkPak with a 110Ah AGM battery, the ArkPak is powered by the 12-volt outlet that's standard in the tray of the Ranger. We can fit one of our Rhino space cases alongside the fridge which we'll put all of our loose camping items and then can pile our chairs and tables on top.
So far we're very happy with the Ranger and minimal mods that we've done to it, I'll do another review at the 10,000klm mark.
After living with and having a relatively trouble-free run with our old 120 Series Prado we knew the time had come for an upgrade. We enjoyed the Prado's comfort and the fact that it had done it's a fair share of off-road work before we purchased it meant that we weren't too precious about it, we could just simply get out and enjoy it. I'll endeavour to update the Prado blog and put my final thoughts down on the vehicle but this blog is ultimately about the Ranger.
The two questions we probably need to answer is why a dual cab ute? and why a Ford Ranger? Well, the first one is an easy question to answer, we needed more space. The ultimate touring rig in my humble opinion would have to be a Toyota Landcruiser '79 Series. Why didn't we go this way? Well, a couple of reasons. Our Prado is so nice to drive and we have done plenty of thousand plus K's a day in it over the five years of ownership and we felt that the '79 would be a little truck-like in its execution. The other reason and I can't stress this enough, was the price. Could we not justify it? well, of course we could, you can justify anything if you try hard enough but the truth of the matter is we just simply couldn't afford it. So it was that we settled on a dual cab pick up for both the comfort and the health of our financial situation.
Now, why did we choose the Ford Ranger over the other obvious choice of a Toyota Hilux? We did quite a bit of research and watched loads of comparison videos on YouTube and the Ranger came out on top every single time in almost every area of the test. We then looked at how many Ranger's were on the road, they are everywhere and it didn't appear to be due to the price point, sure they aren't the most expensive in the class but they are also far from the cheapest. So we made the choice and went to visit our local Ford dealer, City Ford in Alexandria and arranged a test drive.
We drove a Wild Track variant as there wasn't an XLT available in a demonstrator but apart from cosmetic differences they are the same beast. My initial impression was how big the car was, I don't know why but I look at dual cab utes and they appear physically small but this is clearly my mind playing tricks on me as the climb up into the drivers seat and the view out over the bonnet showed this vehicle to be bigger than the old Prado that I've spent the last five years driving. Armed with a proximity key like most new cars meant that a simple push of a button had the engine firing into life. As I trundled slowly out the driveway the rawness of the engine off idle quickly became apparent and in terms of refinement, it didn't appear as sophisticated as our old 3.0-litre Turbo Diesel Prado. I turned left out the driveway and the vehicle easily accelerated up to the 50Km/h speed limit, the rawness off idle disappears immediately under load it would seem and the acceleration proved how far engine tech has come in the last ten years.
Being in the inner city meant that a decent drive at highway speeds was never going to happen but a loop around on the M5 & Eastern Distributor got us up to around the 80Km/h mark and the car felt great and was every bit as comfortable as the Prado in our very brief time in it. All of the controls fall readily to hand, the mirrors show you what you need to see and its size doesn't hinder its ease of manoeuvring it through traffic at all.
We returned to the dealership and did a deal on an end of model year PX MKIII XLT. We got the 'Tech Pack', tinted windows, weather shields and 18" Wild Track wheels in black. The tech pack gives you things like parking and lane assist and a whole host of other things that we have survived without since the inception of the motor car but it also includes leather seats which are the bits we really wanted. We take delivery of the car at the end of November and we have already created a wish list of accessories to turn the vehicle into a comfortable and spacious 4WD touring vehicle so watch this space as we modify our Ranger over the coming months and prepare to head out exploring this vast country of ours.