The 2019 Ford Ranger is an impressive ride. On the road, it handles with the grace and smoothness of a luxury sedan while remaining tough, capable and ready to work. Each of its next-gen powertrains offers enough power and towing capacity, and we can guarantee that the 4×4 is more than capable off-road. We put the 2019 Ranger through its paces in the outskirts of Melbourne and Werribee’s 4×4 Proving Ground and left more than satisfied.
The 2019 Ford Ranger has been revamped both inside and out. The new front end features subtle alterations, mainly to its shape and grille. Rear Sports Bar, side steps, tow bar and LED Daytime Running Lights are standard on the XLT and Wildtrak models. Ranger Wildtrak even comes with LED Fog Lamps which outperform halogen lights in both brightness and efficiency.
All models are equipped with Tailgate Lift Assistance as standard. This new feature means 70% less effort is required to close the tailgate. An adult can easily lift it with one finger. It’s perfect for when you’re unloading and need to close the gate with full hands.
The interior has been refined, especially in the Wildtrak. The top-of-the-line model features all black partial leather seating, doing away with the bright orange stitching of previous models. Both front seats are heated, although only the driver seat offers eight-way powered adjustment. Push button start is standard on all models except the base XL.
The Double Cab models have a large backseat that can comfortably fit adult passengers, but most likely, it will be an enjoyable ride for the kids. Ford is emphasising the point that its Ranger is more than a tradies vehicle, bordering between workhorse and family car.
The Wildtrak also has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever. The Bi-Turbo is equipped with a button on the gear lever that enables the driver to see the gear changes on the dashboard. The Wildtrak is easily the most appealing of the new models, although the upgrade costs a lot of extra money, so it depends entirely on your account balance.
Under the Hood
The new Ranger offers three engine configurations. We went hands-on with two. The first was the tried and tested 3.2L Diesel Engine. Boasting 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque, this 5-cylinder engine delivers the power and performance you’d expect from the Ranger name. It’s available in either 6-speed auto or manual transmission.
For the first time, the Ranger gets the 2.0 Bi-Turbo Engine that was previously reserved for Ford’s Raptor and Everest. This configuration pairs two turbochargers with the advanced 10-speed auto for greater torque at lower noise levels. The Inline 4-cylinder engine can output 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm.
The Bi-Turbo powertrain is the superior of the two, although, behind the wheel, the differences are subtle. Both are quieter than previous models. On the road, the Bi-Turbo can achieve slightly higher performance with less effort.
Still, both powertrains retain the class-leading 3,500kg braked towing capacity. Along with the Trailer Sway Control, you’ll be able to handle trailers and caravans with confidence. The Ranger’s suspension has also been upgraded across the range to reduce and better control roll, with an emphasis on improving the driving experience when fully-laden and towing.
The third engine configuration wasn’t on show. It’s a 2.2L 4-cylinder TDCi capable of 118kW at 3,200rpm and 385Nm at 1,600 – 2,500rpm.
Werribee’s 4×4 Proving Ground was the perfect location to test Ford’s new wheels. With very little guidance from Ford or off-road experience from us, we tested both 3.2L and Bi-Turbo models through water, mud and up steep inclines over jagged rocks.
Recent rain almost raised water levels beyond the Ranger’s capabilities. Luckily, the weather cleared, and we were able to try the vehicles 800mm wadding depth which it handled with ease. I know which car I’m going for if global warming raises water levels.
Hill Descent Control takes the jarring starting and stopping out of steep inclines. Activate this feature before descent, and the vehicle automatically descends at its set speed. You can adjust the speed via buttons on the steering wheel. Each press adjusts the Ranger’s speed by one kilometre. It’s like cruise control for off-roading. This technology is not exclusive to the new Ranger, but it’s still impressive. Off-road purists can still descend without it.
Traversing through deep ruts can set off the Ranger’s collision detection, which is frustrating when you’re trying to concentrate. Thankfully, this can also be switched off.
Safety and Technology
The new Ranger has a lot of the safety features you would expect from a car launched in 2018. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection combines camera and radar sensors to see the road ahead. This AEB system is designed to help detect and mitigate frontal collisions with vehicles and vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists by automatically applying the brakes.
Semi-Auto Active Park Assist is one of the vehicle’s best features. Not only will this system use ultrasonic sensors to help you find a suitable parallel park, but it will also steer you in automatically, while you focus on the accelerator and brake. We saw this in action. It takes all of the hassle out of parallel parking, so long as you can trust a machine to take care of you. Just consider there may be consequences if a passing police cruiser sees you move a vehicle without hands on the wheel.
There are over 20 possible vehicle configurations before you even start looking at optional extras. The base model – the 4×2 XL Super Cab 2.2L Low Rider is priced from AUD $27,990. If you want the top-of-the-line 4×4 Wildtrak Double Cab Bi-Turbo, you’re looking at doubling that price. It’s available from $63,990.
The new Ranger doesn’t offer much in the way of improvements over the previous models, except for the Bi-Turbo powertrain. You may not find much to convince you to upgrade, but if you’re in the market for a new Ute, you can’t go wrong with the new Ranger. The 2019 Ranger lives up to Ford’s motto of tough done smart. The 2019 Ford Ranger is available now in Australia.
Photography – Ford, Josh Miller
Man of Many travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Ford.