Ford Ranger XL offers great bang for the buck
You don’t need top of the range to get to the top of the hill
With the price of top of the range double-cab 4x4 bakkies increasing yearly as more and more gadgets and luxury is added these vehicles are starting to become out of reach for the regular man on the street
There are many customers that are looking for a double cab 4x4 and are happy to give up some luxuries and nice to haves in favour of a more affordable price.
The Ford Ranger XL along with the optional Sport Pack perfectly fills this void.
In the Ford Ranger line up the Ranger XL is the value-oriented offering that suits a wide variety of applications, from the hard-working single cab with its spacious loadbox, the practical SuperCab or the comfortable Double Cab that is equally suited to business or family use.
The addition of the Sport Pack gives the Ranger more upmarket flair while enhancing its day-to-day practicality. Visual upgrades include a gloss black grille that replaces the plain black version used on standard models. The same exclusive theme continues to the wheel and tyre choice, as the normal 16-inch silver alloy wheels are upgraded to 17-inch Panther gloss black cast alloy rims fitted with 265/65 R 17 tyres.
At the rear the Sport Pack adds a tubular sports bar in the load compartment, as well as a black bumper.
Connectivity and in-car entertainment are also taken up several notches, as the Ranger XL can now be ordered with Ford’s optional touchscreen infotainment system in place of the entry-level SYNC 1 unit.
The system features a large eight-inch full colour touchscreen display. Although it makes do without embedded voice recognition and navigation, it does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
What about safety?
The Ranger XL is equipped with an impressive list of standard safety features including ABS with EBD, ESP with traction control, Hill launch Assist, Roll-Over mitigation, Adaptive Load Control and Trailer Sway Control. Dual front airbags are fitted across the board, with Isofix child seat mounting points provided on the double-cab models. Remote central locking is standard, along with an immobiliser and a Thatcham-specification alarm system
Four-wheel drive models gain Hill Descent Control and a rear diff-lock is fitted as standard on all 4x2 and 4x4 derivatives. All Ranger XL models are fitted with a tow bar as standard equipment.
Under the bonnet
The Ranger XL is powered by Ford’s proven, economical 2.2-litre four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi engine, which produces 118kW of power, along with 385Nm of torque between 1 500 and 2 500 rpm. This powerplant offers a great balance between fuel consumption and power delivery and when equipped with the automatic gearbox it does an excellent job of keeping it in the sweet spot.
Putting it to the test
To see if this middle of the range bakkie could handle an overlanding trip, Ford invited us to trace the Olifants river all the way from Hoedspruit back to Johannesburg, traversing mostly gravel roads over three days.
Our journey started in the Blyde River Canyon, which is said to be the third largest canyon after the Grand Canyon and the Fish River Canyon at 26km long, with a gentle cruise on the Blyde River Canyon Dam.
The next day saw an early start as we had some ground to cover. We headed up the tarred side of the Orrie Baragwanath pass in search of views, but the weather had other plans, a thick bank of mist had moved in reducing visibility to zero. Fortunately a picnic in the forest complete with condensed milk coffee and koeksisters in a Lord of the Rings esque setting went a long way in making up for the lack of views.
The Orrie Baragwanath Pass is situated in the Limpopo province and covers 30km of dirt tracks through the Lekgamgalameetse Nature Reserve. It rises to 1 370m above sea level and is paved on the western side, which we climbed up. But unpaved on the eastern side where we needed to descend.
The descent is rough, rocky, eroded and overgrown in places and really put the hill descent control and low range 4x4 system of the Ranger through its paces. Ride comfort remained comfortable despite the rough terrain, the Rangers well sorted suspension and the fact that the XL is fitted with 17-inch tyres that feature a descent amount of sidewall, help to smooth out the bumps.
The Orrie Baragwanath pass is one that I had never heard of, located in the shadow of the well-known Mariepskop, but I am sure glad, that I had the opportunity to tick it off my list.
The XL Sport passed with flying colours. Without any incidents or even a single flat tyre, our convoy of bakkies safely conquered this proper 4x4 obstacle. We continued to flank the Olifants rider as we headed to our overnight stop outside Marble Hall.
After a refuel on Day 3 we hit the dirt once more as we skirted the Loskop Dam in the direction of Wolwekop and Cullinan the quality of gravel deteriorated yet the ride quality remained great, we managed to stay on gravel until the near Delmas area where the gravel roads finally ended, and we were forced back on to the tar as we headed home to Johannesburg.
The Single Cab and SuperCab models are available in two or four-wheel drive specification mated to a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed automatic in the 4x2 derivative. The Ranger XL Double Cab can be specified in 4x2 or 4x4 versions, with both available in manual or automatic guise.
The XL Sport Pack adds R16 500 to the base price of the Ranger XL series, while the optional eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and dealer-fitted side steps cost R6 080 and R5 050 respectively.
Pricing ranges from R408 500 to R543 000.
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