Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2016 Ford Ranger PX Mk2 review

Robert Pepper’s 2016 Ford Ranger PX Mk2 review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

Editor's Rating

First thoughts of the 2016 Ford Ranger
Practical Motoring Says: Based on our launch impressions, the 2016 Ford Ranger PX Mk2 is easily the king of the 4x4 utes. More comfortable, better equipped and safer than its predecessor it's a good base to build a work or touring 4x4.

2016 Ford Ranger PX Mk2

Price From $27,390 (2.2L) Warranty three years/100,000km Safety 5 star Engine 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder; 3.2-litre turbo-diesel five-cylinder Power/Torque 118kW/385Nm; 147kW/470Nm Transmission six-speed manual; six-speed automatic 4wD SYSTEM part-time 4WD, low range, rear locking differential, hill descent control towing 3500kg braked 350kg max tbm

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FORD HAS REFRESHED the Ranger for 2016, with a raft of improvements on the same platform. So, just how different is it from the much-loved PX?

This new model is the PX Mk2, indicating the vehicle is a refinement of the current PX model. However, many manufacturers have gone with a complete new model name for fewer changes than Ford has made with the Mk2. I’m familiar with the Mk1, having tested one pretty comprehensively then been so impressed I bought a 2012 XLT dual cab. This test is just launch impressions which are always limited as the journalists need to stick to predefined routes – soon as we can we’ll do a more comprehensive test on our own terms.

We also have a detailed look at some of the new systems on the PX Mk2.

There’s five grades of Ranger: XL; XL Plus; XLS; XLT and Wildtrak. The Ranger is regarded as one of the market leaders and Ford intend to keep it there. The range is split for two different markets: XL/XL Plus/XLS for the commercial market, and XLT/Wildtrak for everyone else. This is reflected, not in the base mechanicals, but in trim levels, safety equipment and features. Ford says XLT is about luxury and Wildtrak is about sports luxury. Apparently the difference is in the front styling – see if you can spot it, I’m a journalist not a designer so these things go right over my head.

Starting from the outside there’s new styling at the front. Ranger won a lot of (male) fans for its bluff, purposeful looks, especially over its curvier virtual twin-under-the-skin the BT-50. While there’s a few naysayers, the new look seems to be well received too. Only the front-end has been tweaked, including the front quarter panels. There’s a new sidevent, and no that won’t fit PX Rangers. I asked.

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Sporty Ranger, Basic Ranger, Luxury Ranger. Or something like that!

Inside there are more differences. The Ford corporate line seems to be, and to repeat it at every opportunity, that the idea was not to “mess with the good” but improve on things. That’s been achieved, and not only is the Ranger interior good-looking, it’s very practical too. There are so many little things on the XLT, for example, the centre console is split into two and has a cooling fan, there are two 12v sockets with proper covers, two USB ports, two seat pockets on the back of the front seats, the second-row seat back folds forwards giving you somewhere to stash your gear, the second-row base lifts up to reveal more storage for gear or a second battery. There are two grab handles on each A-pillar. Even the glovebox gets a separate compartment for the owner’s manual. There’s a light and mirror on the sunvisor too, and a sunnies holder in the roof. Very few other utes, and not many wagons can claim such an array of practical touches to the interior.       

There’s one thing missed from the PX and that’s the compartment under the right of the steering wheel. Now where do I store my Leatherman and tyre pressure gauge, Ford?

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Gone! No more storage compartment!

The materials have been improved too; XLT/Wildtrak get a softer and better steering wheel compared to the slightly hard plastic used on XL/XLS.  The dash itself is now semi-electronic and displays a lot more information on XLT and Wildtrak, the XL/XLS is more basic. There’s no more pressing stalks on the dash display itself like in the Mk1 XLT, it’s all operated via the steering wheel – good for safety and usability.

Improvements have been made in refinement at the top grades of XLT and Wildtrak, reflecting an increasing buyer expectation that such vehicles are now expensive and should reflect that cost in the way they drive.  Lower-spec models miss out on additional sound deadening. There is no use of Everest’s sound-cancelling technology in Ranger. Guess they need to leave something for the next update.

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Here’s a comparison of XLT/Wildtrak dash and XL/XLS:

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There are a lot more options and information on the higher-spec model, but the base has everything you need. Top spec gets more detailed fuel consumption information, prettier graphics, better trip meters, navigation, audio sub-displays. It’s all easy to use and useful, definitely one of the better dash setups on any car at any price.

Below is the XLT/Wildtrak infortainment unit. This is also one of the best I’ve used – clear, useful, good looking, and quick to respond.

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List of traffic incidents in the loal area. Good to see the time and temp are always displayed.

One thing missing is a reach adjustable steering wheel, which is odd considering the wholesale change to electronic power steering. Ford reckon nobody really wants it and other things are more important, but that sounds like retro-justification for running out of development money and I’m surprised they kept a straight face as the line was delivered. Simple fact is Ranger should have reach adjustable steering and it’s an embarrassment to a top-end ute that it doesn’t. Otherwise the steering wheel is nicely finished and the buttons are logical and easy to use.

Here are the tub sizes for dual-, king- and single-cab Rangers.  Ranger’s deep 500mm+ tub is retained. The tie-down points, 12v, are all carried over from Mk1. The sportsbar (illustrated on left) now gets downlights but they aren’t a substitute for a good lightbar.

tubs

The headline figures for the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel Duratorq are pretty much the same:147kW and 470Nm of torque.  But there’s more to it than just the output figures. The torque curve is flatter, consumption has been reduced and noise/vibration/harshness improved. The differences in practice compared to the Mk1 are not huge, but they exist. Ford actually “truncate torque so there’s no drivetrain damage,” so clearly didn’t feel the vehicle needed more grunt.

The 2.2L engine has had the same makeover as the 3.2 but its outputs are slightly higher at 118kW and 385Nm compared to 110kW and 375Nm from before.

The major change on the transmission is an improved version of the six-speed manual for the 3.2 which is now much more usuable.

There is no change to the tow rating of 3500kg, and we have explained why you need to take that with a large dose of salt. Gross Vehicle Mass is the same at 3200kg, but the extra features and refinement have made the models slightly heavier – and Ranger is already a heavy ute – so payload has been eroded by 10-20kg, or so, depending on the model.  Ford need to reverse this obesity trend next time around.

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Factory towbar is still a bit low to be ideal for offroad work.

These tweaked engines include smart charging of the battery, which is another way of saying, selective use of the alternator. In the PX you could turn this off as people did for dual-battery systems – it may be you can’t for the Mk2, but I’ve got another question in with Ford to confirm. Check back here when I find out.

There is a front recovery point, same as the PX which is rated for recovery. To what weight we don’t yet know (yes, another question. Check this post soon, I’ll update it soon as I get the answers). There have been minor changes and improvements all the way around, including different tunes for different grades and even tyres.

 Out onto the road, and all of the press cars at the launch were driven without load in them so pretty much leapt off the line. There’s not a lot of performance difference to the PX, but the vehicles do feel quieter and more refined. Handling is good for a ute, brakes are progressive, shifts are smooth… all “for a ute” because even now Ranger doesn’t match the better wagons. However, it’s more than good enough to make comfortable, assured and quick progress. 

If the lane departure system is enabled then there’s an odd tugging on the wheel even when you’re nowhere near a white line. Switch it off and it’s all good. This is a poor calibration as such systems should not interfere unless necessary. The active cruise control is effective and has five settings up to a maximum of 2.1 seconds behind the car in front.

The ride is very good across all surfaces.  I drove a 2WD Hi-Rider over some rough dirt roads and while handling and ride was excellent, it did struggle to get power to the ground. And stability control interfered a bit too much for the situation. Had it been a 4WD model in 4WD there would have been no trouble, and the stability control is slightly de-tuned to allow a little more slip when 4WD is selected.

The ABS system works very well and has no trouble keeping the vehicle straight under harsh braking when two wheels are on bitumen and two on dirt (split-mu). Not all 4WDs can claim the same.

The cabin is quiet and comfortable.  There’d be no drama at all going for very long drives in the Ranger.

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Two journalists drive by, one hanging on for dear life.  You could cruise all day in a Ranger.

Almost everything has been improved compared to the PX Ranger which was already pretty good in the rough. Hill Descent Control on the PX Ranger was excellent, working down to 2km/h, and now it works with the rear locking differential which will improve controllabilty on descents where wheels lift in the air. Engine braking is good in both automatic and manual.

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This is as rough as we got on the launch…

The PX’s major off-road weakness was its traction control which was, by modern standards, slow to kick in, harsh and ineffective. I am happy to report that is is now improved – earlier to react, more effective and smoother, and this will improve Ranger’s off-road ability.

Ground clearance of 230mm is excellent, the engine is strong off-road and allows precise torque control both in 2.2L and 3.2L guise. The refinements are well timed as the Navara NP300 has made massive improvements in off-road capability compared to the D40, and Amarok has always been up there thanks to its excellent traction control calibration. As ever, the Ranger is pretty smart about engaging or disengaging 2H/4H/4L and the locker, not needing the babying other utes insist on before they cooperate. 

I did notice that when in low-range the automatic transmission had a tendency to go back to first gear when I selected second to move away.  Not keen on that, if I select second then I want the car in second, not first. At least it will move off in second. 

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Not troubling the Ranger’s 800mm wading depth

The improved torque curve (same torque, just wider across the range) would help when loaded in soft and difficult conditions. At launch we had none of that, the utes had no load and never came close to stressing the engine. I know from my own PX that in very heavy sandy conditions with a big load on hot days another few Newton-metres available lower down the rev range would be welcome.

The 3.2L manual took a lot of deserved criticism for its gearshift feel and ease. Thanks to a redesign that’s all fixed. I spent time in a 3.2L going up and down all the gears on hills and on the flat, in low- and high-range.  It’s now a sweet shifter, as it always was in the 2.2L.

Being a six-speeder with lots of torque there’s less need to shift cogs every five minutes, the car will pull away nicely from low revs. There is, as usual with modern cars, an anti-stall system so you can go a lot of places feet-off-pedals just letting the car idle up even steep hills by itself. Engine braking is good too. Overall, I don’t mind the manual at all and would happily drive one, so maybe it’ll tempt a few buyers. You can also keystart it (switch the engine on when it is in gear), handy when in slippery conditions. Even the gearshift has a good feel and a solid action.

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Off-road and in low-range the 2.2L has plenty of torque. On-road, and I guess with a load, or in soft conditions you will notice the difference. The job will be done, just slower.

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Ever since the PX was released it has been king of the utes (if not in sales) with only Amarok to truly challenge it. In recent months the new Navara NP300 and Triton MQ have had a crack at the PX but not quite made the grade, and now the PX Mk2 lifts the bar again thanks to improved refinement, off-road capability, styling, active safety and pretty much everything else. Right now, if you want the best ute on the market you’ll find it at your Ford dealer – but Ford know this and have priced accordingly so “best” doesn’t mean best value and there are other utes which do a decent job but cost less – Triton MQ comes to mind.

In the near future will the new Hilux topple Ranger? Possibly, but it’s not there yet, and we are also due an Amarok upgrade although VW has been quiet of late.

The Ranger has no real weaknesses at all. You do need to know that the 3500kg tow rating isn’t real, and compared to Triton and some Amaroks there’s no all-wheel-drive option which is a shame but not essential.  Also be aware that many of the features are available only on XLT and Wildtrak, and that every paint option bar white is an extra $500 (except for the red-only on the base model).

Compared to the PX

Almost everything is improved, but not enough to really justify an upgrade if your PX is going strong.   But if you are in the market for a new ute, then the Mk2 will be different and better enough to warrant consideration, driving a PX will give you an idea but not the full experience.  As far as trim levels are concerned it’s a bit like what was the XLT is now the XL. 

2016 Ranger Pricing

All prices below, but remember you’ll need to add on-road costs.  The most popular dual-cab autos have been bolded for easy comparison.

DrivetrainGrade & ModelTransmissionPrice (excl onroads)
4×2XL Single Cab Chassis 2.2LMT$27,390
XL Single Cab Chassis 2.2L Hi RiderMT$30,890
XL Single Cab Chassis 2.2L Hi RiderAT$33,090
XL Single Cab Pick-up 2.2LMT$28,390
XL Super Cab Chassis 2.2L Hi-RiderAT$35,590
XLT Super Cab Pick-up 3.2L Hi-RiderAT$46,690
XL Double Cab Chassis 2.2L Hi-RiderAT$37,590
XL Double Cab Pick-up 2.2L Hi-RiderMT$36,390
XL Double Cab Pick-up 2.2L Hi-RiderAT$38,590
XLT Double Cab Pick-up 3.2L Hi-RiderMT$46,490
XLT Double Cab Pick-up 3.2L Hi-RiderAT$48,690
 
4×4XL Single Cab Chassis 2.2LMT$38,790
XL Single Cab Chassis 3.2LMT$41,290
XL Single Cab Chassis 3.2LAT$43,490
XL Plus Single Cab Chassis 3.2LAT$46,480
XL Super Cab Chassis 3.2LMT$43,790
XL Super Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$44,790
XLT Super Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$52,390
XLT Super Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$54,590
XL Double Cab Chassis 2.2LMT$43,290
XL Double Cab Chassis 2.2LAT$45,490
XL Double Cab Pick-up 2.2LMT$44,290
XL Double Cab Pick-up 2.2LAT$46,490
XL Double Cab Chassis 3.2LMT$45,790
XL Double Cab Chassis 3.2LAT$47,990
XL Plus Double Cab Chassis 3.2LAT$51,960
XL Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$46,790
XL Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$48,990
XL Plus Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$52,960
XLS Double Cab Pick-up 2.2LMT$45,590
XLS Double Cab Pick-up 2.2LAT$47,790
XLS Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$48,090
XLS Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$50,290
XLT Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$54,390
XLT Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$56,590
Wildtrak Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LMT$57,890
Wildtrak Double Cab Pick-up 3.2LAT$60,090

Options pricing

ItemCost
Automatic Transmission$2,200
Prestige Paint (anything except white or red on XL, refer below for colours)$500
Steel Bull Bar (XL Plus only)$1,800
Tech Pack (XLT) Reverse Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control (including Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Impairment Monitor)$1,100
Tech Pack (Wildtrak) Adaptive Cruise Control (including Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Impairment Monitor)$600

I would tick the box for the Tech Packs as the features are genuinely useful and good value, albeit through gritted teeth as I think Ford should have made most of that standard.  But I guess the product planners have done their job well if I’m recommending add-ons!  We’ve also got a view on whether the reversing camera should be standard or not.

The steel bullbar will work with all the safety aids. The radar unit is moved and the dealers can recalibrate the system to suit.

2015 Ford Ranger body/transmission/engine matrix

HR = High Rider, same ride height as the 4X4 and has a rear locking differential, but ony 4×2.

ranger-range

Below we have exterior and interior shots of all four grades:

Ford Ranger XL

XL-ext XL-int

Ford Ranger XLS XLS-int XLS-ext

Ford Ranger XLT 

XLT-ext

XLT-int

Ford Ranger WildtrakWT-extWT-int

2015 Ford Ranger colours

No, I don’t know why you can’t buy a red or blue Wildtrak. The orange is the prestige colour… can’t disagree on that score!  Prestige colours sneak $500 out of your wallet.

ranger-colours

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Ford Ranger Photo Gallery


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!