Car Reviews

2019 Ford Ranger Review

Dan DeGasperi’s 2019 Ford Ranger Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Safety, Ownership, Verdict and Score.

In a nutshell: With the PX Mark III, Ford aims at keeping the Ranger ahead of the game while attempting to oust the sales-conquering Toyota HiLux…

2019 Ford Ranger 4×4 Specifications

Price $46,390-$74,990+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited km Safety 5 stars Engine 3.2-litre turbo-diesel five-cylinder or 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder Power 147kW at 3000rpm or 157kW at 3750rpm Torque 470Nm at 1750-2500rpm or 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm Transmission six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (3.2-litre) or 10-speed automatic (2.0-litre) Drive four-wheel drive Dimensions 5426mm (L) 1860mm (W) 1848mm (H) 3220mm (WB) Ground Clearance 237mm Kerb Weight 2057-2239kg Towing 3500kg maximum braked Fuel Tank 80L Spare full-size spare Thirst 7.4L/100km (2.0-litre) to 8.3/8.9L/100km (3.2-litre man/auto) claimed combined

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FALCON may have long flown its coop, but the Ford Ranger breed of utes have over the past half-decade become its spiritual replacement – and surprisingly in more than one sense too.

Firstly, like the now-deceased Blue Oval large car, the current-generation ute was designed and engineered in Australia, although in a sign of the times it is built in Thailand. Secondly, as the once enormously popular ‘big six’ sedan fell out of favour here, locals have fallen in love with especially 4×4 dual-cabs.

How’s this for a statistic? To September 2018, Ranger 4×4 sales tallied half of all local Ford volume, and it outsells Ranger 4×2 by nearly eight-to-one. With 27,769 Ranger 4×4 utes sold so far this year, it’s a bee’s proverbial away from the 28,442 HiLux 4×4 ute sales leader.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

So now arrives the PX Mark III. It now gets the 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder that debuted in the Ranger Raptor, but in 4×4 guise it’s now offered here for $15K less. The focus here is the dual-cab 4×4, which also brings more active safety equipment, new interior trim and revised rear suspension into the mix for Model Year 2019 (MY19). Watch out, HiLux…

What’s The Price And What Do You Get?

The new 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder complements, rather than replaces the old 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre single turbo-diesel five-cylinder. Those few buyers who don’t need (or in most cases want) 4×4 can get this new engine tied to its 10-speed automatic in dual-cab 4×2 guise priced from $51,490 plus on-road costs. But in dual-cab 4×4 buyers need to traverse past 3.2-litre XL ($46,390/$48,590+ORC man/auto) and XLS ($49,190/$51,390+ORC man/auto) to the second-from-top XLT to get the ‘bi turbo’.

Even then, dual-cab 4×4 buyers need to move beyond 3.2-litre XLT ($55,990/$58,190+ORC man/auto) to the 2.0-litre XLT ($59,390+ORC auto), and also past 3.2-litre Wildtrak ($60,590/$62,790+ORC man/auto) to the 2.0-litre Wildtrak ($63,990+ORC). That now leaves an $11,000 surcharge to the Ranger Raptor that utilises the same engine as the latter.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

The XL only gets 16-inch steel wheels, but it picks up trim changes inside plus rear parking sensors to go with the reversing camera. The XLS adds alloy wheels and foglights, and it now gets front parking sensors plus for the first time an option pack featuring 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, integrated satellite navigation, digital radio, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control and chrome grille/doorhandles for $1950 extra.

That’s all standard on XLT, which adds 17s, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, power-fold mirrors, a tub liner with 12-volt socket, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror and tyre pressure monitoring. Leather can be added for $1650 and a Tech Pack for $1700 – with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) including pedestrian detection, semi-automatic reverse-park assistance and traffic-sign recognition all new to the face-lifted Ranger, plus adaptive cruise control, auto up/down high beam and lane-departure warning.

Leather and the Tech Pack are standard on Wildtrak, along with 18s, a roller-shutter tub blind, side steps, puddle lights, leather-look dash and other orange-themed trim parts.

What’s The Interior And Practicality Like?

Ford changed one thing that needed to be altered about the Ranger interior. With the exception of Wildtrak and its leather-look dash, hard plastics still dominate the dashboard and doors, however a black colour scheme replaces the former grey that showed up marks.

And while fit-and-finish is average, seating front and rear is among the comfiest in the class.

This long (5426mm) and wide (1846mm) dual-cab also continues to offer one of the roomiest interiors in the segment, with particularly decent rear legroom further helped by that nicely tilted-up bench. Unfortunately, rear air vents are missing, despite being available in the Nissan Navara and Toyota HiLux, among others.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

It’s a similar story in the tray, where an almost foursquare area really illuminates why the Ranger is so popular – and that is because it mixes tough looks with plenty of sense. A new soft-release tailgate has also been made standard across the range, which gently lowers when released and, Ford claims, requires one-eighth of the strength to lift up versus before.

The only disappointment is equipment for the price. We’re talking a base XL with steelies for $46K-plus, which is about where a Mitsubishi Triton starts to offer lush leather and other appointments. Even the XLS, at almost $50K, gets a plastic steering wheel inside while offering the likes of CarPlay, nav and digital radio as options. Then there’s the XLT, which if you get the new bi-turbo engine costs nearly $60K and still lacks leather and AEB. It’s impressive that Ford offers the latter, but this range of Rangers isn’t well equipped enough.

What Are The Controls And Infotainment Like?

Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is dutifully impressive, although the 8.0-inch touchscreen it sits inside isn’t the high-resolution and crisp unit found in the newer Transit Custom, for example. The processor feels a bit slower as well, making for some laggy reaction times.

Whether a tradie who needs to work on the run, or a family who needs to call the kids at school pick-up time, upgrading from the 4.2-inch colour screen of the XL and XLS – without CarPlay, nav or digital radio – to the Sync 3 package is a must. But even if you take an XLS with the option pack, that’s $49,190+ORC, plus $1950 for the pack, plus $2200 for auto. Suddenly you need at least $54,430+ORC just to get CarPlay or nav in your dual-cab 4×4.

What’s The Performance Like?

Swapping from the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel five-cylinder to the 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder feels like a generation leap ahead – or two. There’s only 10kW of power between them, and 30Nm of torque, but the newer and smaller engine is much quieter at idle, smoother during step-off acceleration and significantly quicker to rev.

Suddenly the Ranger feels slick rather than stolid. Where the 3.2-litre churns through the first of the six-speed’s gears backed by a coarse roar, before the auto slurs into a taller gear, the 2.0-litre sings sweetly and then the 10-speed auto near-instantly cuts to the next ratio.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

Is double-digit gearing too many for a diesel with such a narrow rev band, though? Absolutely. In some cases, when steep hills arise, the throttle can briefly go flat before the auto slips back a gear or three. It is, however, the only downside in what is otherwise a great drivetrain.

The four-cylinder is absolutely worth the $1200 over the five-cylinder, but should it simply be standard especially on XLT and Wildtrak? Given that both engines can tow 3.5 tonnes, the payload is 950kg and 961kg between the pricier and cheaper engines, plus fuel economy drops from 8.9L/100km to 7.4L/100km, we’d politely suggest it’s time to turf the 3.2-litre.

What’s It Like On The Road?

Ford’s Australian engineers have upgraded the Ranger’s suspension with stiffer anti-roll bars and a more pliant spring rate, which according to them can reduce and better control bodyroll with a view to, in particular, enhance towing and fully-laden response.

The Ranger was already one of the most comfortable and controlled dual-cab 4×4 utes, and the update does little to change the status quo. We tested an XLT with about 500kg of sandbags in the boot, and over patchy rural Victorian roads the way this locally developed model extended and compressed its four tentacles over big hits proved utterly brilliant.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

Unlike some rivals, this one isn’t afraid of a touch of softness, in the same way that a similar mindset didn’t really affect the driving dynamics of the Territory large SUV that came before it. Instead, and unlike Navara and HiLux in particular, the Ranger ‘breathes’ over every surface while keeping the body and occupants beautifully level. For a ute, that is…

The electric power steering is also the best in the class. It might not offer a lot of road feedback, but it’s sharp, precise, light and engaging. To drive, this feels like a premium ute.

What’s It Like Off The Road?

A day of pouring rain – it is Melbourne, after all – set the scene for some muddy off-roading in the Ranger, and it didn’t disappoint.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

The 237mm of ground clearance is decent, and the 800mm wading depth exceptional. Along with a locking rear differential plus a simple fly-by-wire low-range four-wheel drive switch, the Ford forded rivers and clambered up grassy embankments with aplomb. Apparently only 10 to 15 per cent of owners take their dual-cab 4×4 off-road, and that’s disappointing…

What about ownership?

Ford is spruiking its five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which now matches that of the Triton and Holden’s Colorado while eclipsing the cover of a Navara, HiLux or Volkswagen’s Amarok (unless you buy before December 31 that is…)

Cost of ownership is also covered by Ford’s Service Price Promise, a free loan car arrangement and even a Low Price Tyre guarantee to help buyers long after they’ve left the showroom.

What about safety features?

Brilliantly tuned electronic stability control (ESC) is standard, as are six airbags on the dual-cab utes. A full suite of available active safety technology deserves applause, with the likes of AEB with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance and automatic up/down high-beam optional on XLT and standard on Wildtrak.

But safety shouldn’t be optional and this package should filter down to other models, preferably as standard.

2019 Ranger Wildtrak Review

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the infotainment and controls?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring says: Other rivals have failed to introduce the level of active safety technology that Ford has with its ute, and therefore the company isn’t really being pushed to filter kit such as AEB down across the range. This is an expensive dual-cab, and it lacks equipment on other models, yet arguably its excellent seats, roomy cabin, big tray, superb steering, excellent ride quality and, as of this update, sparkling new bi-turbo engine still make for solid value. The pick would have to be an XLT, with active safety and bi-turbo optioned, for about $62K. It’s a lot of money, so while this isn’t the best-value pick-up on the market, the PX Mark III helps to ensure the Ranger remains one of the best.

Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi