Like a good braai or supporting the Springboks in a massive Test match, some things are just inherently South African. Bakkies are part of that lineage of all things African – rough, tough, and practical even in the most extreme of cases. Ford has been a stalwart in this department, with its impressive Ranger leading the way for years.
Ford has just unveiled its new 2016 Ranger to take on the tasks and challenges of South Africans eager to put it to test; well, we did and put the brashly beautiful machine through its paces to see if it lives up to the name.
There are two models that we got to peruse – the new Ranger base model with various sizes and add-ons (the XL, XL Plus, XLS, and XLT) and the real star of the show, the Wildtrak.
Aside from unique colour options, the Wildtrak stands out with its 18-inch alloy wheels, titanium grille and bumper insert, black door and tailgate handles, puddle lamps on the mirrors and front park sensors for the front and rear Park Assist. This is a bakkie for the new generation of Ford drivers.
While some may think bakkies and pick-ups are all exterior grunt and no real sophistication, you’d be dead wrong. The technology set on the new Wildtrak is particularly impressive – advanced driver aids include Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert and heads-up display, Lane Keeping Aid with Lane Departure Warning, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System and 230v power inverter.
— MenStuff (@MenStuffZA) October 13, 2015
We tested out these features on the road, with the softness and silent-nature of the vehicle being particularly noticeable. It’s great to feel like you’re in a safe and rugged 4×4, but without the clunking and chugging to go with it.
But onto what everyone really wants to know: how does it handle the trails? We took the Ranger on a rather demanding 4×4 track with pre-built inclines (at least 45-50 degree climbs and descents) and the Ranger managed it all without a hiccup. Even when the tread was being put to the test, a robust electronically controlled transfer case was a press away on the centre console. Engaging low-range 4×4 gearing, while an electronic locking rear differential helped to improve traction to hurdle the difficult conditions.
If that wasn’t enough, we were able to climb a rather steep and challenging (and exceptionally rocky) cliff in Ceres. The ascent was tough, but the real nail-biter was coming down, although the advanced Hill Descent Control was able to ease us down the uneven terrain without touching the clutch, accelerator, or brake (for reals).
For off-road driving, new Ranger flaunts its robust and dependable features to help ease your concerns on the tricky parts, while also being accessible enough for 4×4 newcomers to try their hand at more demanding terrains around the country. As for an ‘around-town’ pick-up, the Ranger also does the job by having the space, practicality and comfort to make any heaving job an absolute breeze.
Pricing for the new Ranger line will be announced in 2016.