Pretoria - Ford’s revitalised Ranger doesn’t look too different on the surface, but the popular bakkie line-up has been given a thorough makeover that sees the introduction of brand new engines, a 10-speed gearbox, new driver assist technologies as well as significant chassis refinements that are said to have improved the vehicle’s ride quality.
So how do you tell the 2019 model apart on the outside?
All Rangers get new front bumper designs as well as a redesigned grille where the central bar is now split and it’s easier to distinguish the new XL, XLS and XLT models as the grilles have a more horizontal design that no longer stretches into the lower bumper.
The Wildtrak retains a more familiar appearance with its vertically extending grille in a dark titanium-effect finish, which is also applied to the mirrors and door handles, and in addition the Wildtrak is now fitted with HID headlights and LED daytime running lights.
New 2-litre diesel engines
The facelifted Ranger sees the debut of a brand new, and locally-assembled, 2-litre turbodiesel engine range offered in single- and twin-turbo guises, and mated exclusively to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The latter, which produces 157kW and 500Nm, will power the soon-to-be-launched Raptor, but it is also being offered in the Wildtrak.
The single-turbo version is offered in XLT guise and this one is pitched directly against the Hilux 2.8, pushing 132kW and 420Nm.
Both new engines are said to offer improved efficiency and lower noise and vibration levels compared to the older 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre turbodiesel engines, which continue to be offered, the former positioned at the lower end of the range and the latter slotting between the single- and twin-turbo 2-litre engines.
As before, the 3.2, five-cylinder engine produces 147kW and 470Nm, while the 2.2 is good for 88kW and 285Nm in base models and 118kW/385Nm from the XL grade upwards.
Depending on the variant, the 3.2 and 2.2 engines continue to be available with a choice of six-speed automatic and manual gearboxes (5-speed in the case of base models), and the range - including new 2-litre variants - offers a good spread of 4x2 and 4x4 options that should fit most needs.
The Ranger offers a braked towing capacity of up to 3500kg, ground clearance of 230mm and a load capacity of up to 1199kg on some SuperCab variants.
New driver assist gadgets
The range-topping Wildtrak gains Ford’s semi-automatic Parallel Park Assist system, while that and the XLT are now fitted with a keyless entry and start system that includes a start button, and an ‘EZ lift’ tailgate that uses a torsion rod to reduce the effort required to close the tailgate by 70 percent.
As before, XLT and Wildtrak come with the Sync3 infotainment system linked to a 20cm touchscreen and including satnav and the Waze traffic service as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The Wildtrak also continues to offer a raft of active safety features, including Auto High Beam Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert as well as Lane-Keeping Aid and Alert.
The Wildtrak (pictured above) is further distinguished by an Ebony Black interior colour scheme, with painted surfaces gaining more shine and depth, while other additions include dark-satin chrome elements and partial-leather seats with Wildtrak embroidery and orange stitching.
At the opposite end of the range, the base single cab now gains air conditioning as standard.
A four-year/120 000km warranty and six-year/90 000km service plan are standard across the range.