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.