14 October 2022

To the hundreds of Canberrans waiting for the new Ford Ranger: it's an absolute br-ute

| James Coleman
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2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak. Photo: James Coleman.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

I’ve tried out tens of cars for these regular review slots so far, and often the process begins simply enough by pulling up at the weekly family dinner. Some of the cars are met with a glance out the window, others with a brief conversation about headlight design, while some even score the hallowed ride around the block.

But few have all the men of the clan charging the front door and rushing down the driveway like this one.

It’s the new Ford Ranger.

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As far as I can make out, there are a few things going on here.

The story goes that a farmer’s wife from Victoria wrote to Ford in the early 1930s asking for something that could take the family to church on Sunday and the pigs to market on Monday. Ford then responded with the first-ever ‘utility vehicle’.

Regardless of the truth, the same principle underpins the utes of today – the idea is that they’re just as comfortable on the construction site as they are in the holiday park. Two cars in one.

Then there is the fact Australia is basically a big desert, with some high rises on the side. Something with four-wheel drive and high-ground clearance unlocks a lot of this. Even in the city, with potholes and stupidly placed concrete islands, it’s welcome.

Last but not least, the ute is seen as the alpha male of the car world. Those boys who played with Tonka trucks are now men who want a bigger Tonka truck. And you don’t have to squint very hard at the new Ranger to see that.

The numbers back this up too.

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The Ford Ranger was the best-selling four-wheel drive in Australia last year, ahead of the Toyota HiLux by more than 1000 sales. Here in the ACT, it ranked second out of all cars for 2021 and fifth for 2020.

Dealers such as Gerald Slaven Ford in Belconnen are now scrambling to keep up with hundreds of pre-orders for the new, heavily-updated one. When I ask what model is scoring the most, there’s no hesitation: “the Wildtrak”.

This sits second from the top, underneath the monster Ranger Raptor, and – with the 3.0-litre, V6 turbo-diesel engine – retails from $70,190.

Yes, you read that right. $70K. Buyers are clearly not limited to pig farmers anymore.

Accordingly, the inside of the Wildtrak is much like any other modern family car. There is a massive touchscreen with shortcuts to an array of safety and infotainment settings, fluffy carpets underfoot and heated cowhide under-bottom, a camera display that moves with the steering wheel to predict where your front tyres will end up, not to mention the wireless phone charging.

But Ford hasn’t forgotten why the ute exists. Take the dedicated spot in the centre console for your Maccas fries, for example.

Does this make the Ranger a compromise? Yes, but the trick is in getting it right.

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Some of the plastics do feel a bit tacky, while the indicator sounds like Gershon Kingsley is in the dashboard, playing Popcorn.

But for the most part, you know “she’ll be right”. It feels rugged.

The Ranger has also grown to the point it’s close to a super-size American truck, so taking it up to highway speed, you might be ready for it to sound like a cyclone inside. But no, it just settles down to a quiet and well … car-like glide.

A large part of this is down to the engine. It’s derived from the one in the Ford F150 (very much a truck) and like most big diesels, oomph is only delivered in large lumps. But they’re smooth lumps and the 10-speed automatic transmission does its best to make sure you’re always in the middle of one. The end result is not so much a sprint as a charge.

At first, I thought the suspension too rough but then I remembered the tray was laden with the grand total of a portacot and some blankets. I imagine three-and-a-half tonnes of caravan would have a different effect. Besides, the seats are supremely comfortable.

This is also on the road, with the four-wheel drive dial set to ‘2H’ to cut out the front wheels and save fuel. But a frolic through the mulch mountains at the Mugga Way tip – and the ‘4A’ and high- and low-range options – reveals the new Ranger to be just as capable off-road as it is mounting curbs at the shops.

Will you ever take yours off-road? Maybe not, but the point is, the option’s always there. Because that’s another part to the ute appeal – it’s insurance.

Glorious mud. Photo: James Coleman.

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6

  • $70,190 (plus driveaway costs)
  • 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, 184 kW / 600 Nm
  • 10-speed automatic, auto 4WD
  • 8.4 litres per 100 km combined fuel usage
  • 0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds
  • 3500 kg maximum (braked) towing capacity

This vehicle was provided for testing by Gerald Slaven Ford in Belconnen. Region has no commercial arrangement with Gerald Slaven Ford.

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doomeddisciple11:24 am 17 Oct 22

I got my Ranger sport at the end of August and after 5 years with a 2017 FX4. It’s the V6 model and vastly improves on the Ranger experience in every way. I’ve read a lot of people unhappy with the Bi-Turbo engines over the years and I can’t speak to that experience, but from towing, to off road – it’s just a killer, killer ute. My only complaint if you only have to lean on an empty seat in the back and the over zealous safety alerts kick in. But there’s just so many extra practical features compared to my old one. People saying it’s a gutless drivetrain have no idea or haven’t tried the V6…

The previous model that I used for a week was a pile of under powered crap, just like all of the other Rangers that I have driven.

doomeddisciple11:25 am 17 Oct 22

Try the V6 – more than powerful enough

HiddenDragon8:50 pm 16 Oct 22

“Here in the ACT, it ranked second out of all cars for 2021 and fifth for 2020.”

The paradox that is Canberra – an awesomely red-blooded statistic from a town with an exquisitely PC voting record.

Doesn’t really say anything, other than exactly like other areas of Australia, tradespeople buy a massive proportion of new cars that pushes them up the sales charts. There’s also less variety, which gives specific models greater numbers.

In 2021, the Hilux and Ranger were the two Utes in the top 10, equating to just over 1100 of the 16000 new cars sold I’m the ACT.

Janet Hutchison1:51 pm 16 Oct 22

Unfortunately, just when we urgently need to reduce emissions, more Aussies are buying bigger and bigger utes with higher and higher emissions. I know I’m not immune to discounting the impact of my individual actions. And that probably applies to a lot of Aussies buying these small trucks. Their collective emissions really add up. For $70,000 you can buy a brand new electric car instead of a carbon bomb like this little diesel truck. Take a look at the new electric utes coming to Australia. EVs cost a lot less to run.

And tow or 3.5t caravan just how far with an electric vehicle?

Capital Retro3:27 pm 16 Oct 22

But why do we need to reduce emissions?

Since this article is about utes and people buy utes for a number of reasons, including tradies, your suggestion for a $70,000 car will not do the job that people want – towing, Cape York, etc.
Let’s talk about utes. The Chinese LDV e-T60 is the only one from the article (below) with confirmation of being available (soon) in Australia. There’s a 30k difference between the base ICE model and this though.
If you are referring to American utes coming to Australia – the Hummer EV (I’d want one) is $US 112,000 for the top of the range model.
Next, add on taxes and right-hand drive conversion and you might get it for a tad under $200,000. BTW, it weighs over 4 tonnes, or over 9,000lbs. 200kwh battery to boot, which would take a week to charge on 240 volt at home. Ford Lightning, $US 90,000 for the Lariat with bigger battery. Add on as above, perhaps $170,000. It is a V2L vehicle, which means you could (with an electrician doing the work) connect to your inverter to power essential appliances. Rivian – too far behind its current delivery quota, so I’d doubt it coming here.


“Unfortunately, just when we urgently need to reduce emissions, more Aussies are buying bigger and bigger utes with higher and higher emissions.”

Lies – it is illegal to produce cars for the Australian market that create higher emissions than older vehicles.

I have a 2018 “carbon bomb” PXII Ranger which I use for touring, camping and around town. Electric utes look pretty but cannot travel long distances or drive through creeks and rivers.

doomeddisciple11:29 am 17 Oct 22

Those of us that need to tow heavy loads long distances aren’t served by the current market yet Janet. Ford US have an electric ute under the Lightning model I think it’s called. Once electric catches up to offer a longer range and a higher towing capacity I will get on board for sure, but the electric offerings don’t meet the towing and range capacity I need just yet.

EVs have more torque than diesel, so that’s not a problem, though range still is if you’re doing the big lap with a large caravan. But if you’re towing a boat or horse float, EVs are probably better suited.

Councils have ordered those new LDV e-utes, reckon the lower operating costs make them cheaper overall. Time will tell.

Finally, note that all those claims about 3.5t towing limits are usually nonsense, because the vehicle needs to be practically empty to stay under GCM. Forget taking the family, camping gear or even putting a bullbar on.

I’ve got the previous PXIII model. I can barely get it into the garage (width wise). Seeing as this model is 50mm wider, it would not fit unless I folded the mirrors in. That is something to consider if you were going to purchase one. Newer houses with a single, wide roller door – no problem

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