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The Star Early Edition - 2021-11-25

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Introducing the new Ford Ranger, complete with V6 diesel and impressive hi tech

DRIVE 360

WILLEM VAN DE PUTTE willem.vdputte@inl.co.za

AFTER years of research and development, months of speculation and spy pics and billions of rand invested in the Silverton plant, the new Ford Ranger has been revealed to the world. Judging from the pictures, specifications and technology, it has raised the bar significantly in the ever-popular bakkie market. Let’s meet the new Ford Ranger. First things first… yes, there will be a diesel V6 and no, it won’t be a VW engine. It’s set to be launched in three variations; XLT, Sport and Wildtrak. What engines to expect Apart from Ford’s proven diesel V6 found in the F-150 and adapted for the Ranger, there will be two 2.0-litre diesel single turbo performance variations as well as the 2.0-litre bi-turbo familiar to South Africans. The well-known 2.3 litre EcoBoost petrol engine will be offered in some global markets. Ford SA hasn’t said which variations are heading for South Africa but, given the range of vehicles, it’s highly likely the V6 will slot into the top of the range Wildtrak. It also means the end of the road for the 2.2 and 3.2 litre diesel mills on offer locally. The engines will be mated to an updated 10-speed automatic transmission, six-speed auto or six-speed manual gearbox. Over 5 000 customer interviews Ford’s first port of call when it started the journey was listening to what customers across the world had to say. More than 5 000 interviews and dozens of workshops were held. “With Ranger, we’ve had a big extended family for decades,” says Jim Farley, the president and chief executive. “This truck has always been a trusted partner to small business owners, farmers, families, adventurers, commercial fleets and so many more in more than 180 markets around the world. And with the new Ranger, this is our moment to deliver. Not just a product our customers will love, but an always-on experience that will help us build strong and lasting relationships with them.” Dianne Craig, the president of Ford’s International Markets Group, says: “We set out to create more than just a great new pick-up truck; we set out to design a great experience as well. We are a family company, and we want our customers to feel like part of our family. The vehicle sale is just the beginning of our journey together.” Ford also outlined its “always-on” commitment to customers, with a host of services centred on convenience on their terms. Depending in which markets, these include service pick-up and delivery, a Ranger Concierge programme, and streamlined online service booking options. The new Ford Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia. Its international team of designers and engineers worked with teams across the globe to incorporate the latest in Ford technology, capability and safety, and engineer and test it to Ford’s standards. “Our team was focused on one goal – to make this Ranger the toughest and most capable we’ve ever created,” said Graham Pearson, the Ranger vehicle programme director. “They put it through one of the most exhaustive global testing schedules we’ve developed and would not rest until we were satisfied that it was Built Ford Tough.” F-150 inspired design, matrix LED headlights The Ranger shares Ford’s global truck design DNA and features a new grille and signature C-clamp headlight treatment with a shoulder line down the sides and bolder wheel arches. The new Ford Ranger also offers matrix LED headlights. Wheel sizes range from new 17-inch alloys up to 20-inch machine-face multispoke alloys – a first for the Ranger. At the back, the tail lights are designed in harmony with the signature graphics on the front. Inside, the cabin has received major improvements with soft-touch materials and a prominent portrait-style centre touch screen with Ford’s SYNC 4 connectivity and infotainment system. Eight exterior colours have been introduced into the line-up. Smart new cabin with vertical touch screen Customers said they needed a cockpit that catered for work and family as well as being smart and connected. To that end, the heart of the Ranger’s connective experience is the large 10.1-inch or 12-inch touch screen in the centre stack. It complements the digital instrument panel and is loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC4 system, which comes customer-ready with voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems. There’s an embedded factory-fitted modem, allowing connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPass App. Many of the driving mode controls have been moved from the dash and centre console to their own dedicated display on the SYNC screen. With one button, drivers can go to a dedicated screen for all off-road and drive modes where they can monitor the driveline, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles and other controls. The screen is linked to a 360º camera to aid parking or negotiating tricky off-road terrain. “The new short-throw e-shifter is central to the layout and is another example of where customers really guided our decision making,” said Max Tran, the chief designer. “Customers overwhelmingly liked the e-shifter – they liked the fact that it looked higher-tech and that it was intuitive to use.” There are also useful storage features, such as a large centre console bin, the door pockets are designed to carry more, the wide dash conceals an upper glove box and there are storage bins under and behind the rear seats. The seats have been redesigned, with new bolsters and foam inserts and the second row can fold flat. Rear occupants have heating and cooling outlets at the back of the centre console. Longer and wider, with upgraded chassis The chassis has been upgraded with the wheelbase 50mm longer and a 50mm wider track than the outgoing model. A hydro-formed front-end structure creates more space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine and helps future-proof the Ranger for other propulsion technologies. It also opens the front of the pick-up to allow more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures down when towing or carrying heavy loads. Full-time 4x4 system offered On the 4x4 versions there will be a choice of two four-wheel drive systems, an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or an advanced full-time 4x4 system with a set-and-forget mode, designed for capability when and where needed. Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper. To improve the ride and handling, engineers had to take into consideration work-orientated owners through to serious 4x4 drivers and those who push their Rangers to the extremes. The front wheels have been moved forward, by 50mm, for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation, both of which improve the off-roading experience. The rear suspension dampers have been shifted outboard of the frame rails to give drivers and passengers a better ride quality, loaded and unloaded. New cargo management system A nifty addition is an integrated side step behind the rear tyres for easy access to the load bin. With the new Ford Ranger being 50mm wider it made a significant difference to the load bin’s size and the type of cargo that can be carried like a full-sized pallet. There’s a new plastic-moulded binliner that’s not as hard and uncomfortable as the current one, extra cargo tie down points on steel tube rails and flexible load bin caps that protect the top of the sides of the load bin and tailgate that also conceals structural attachment points for canopies and other aftermarket accessories. Ford has also designed a new cargo management system with dividers to create smaller compartments to store objects and prevent them from rolling around in the back. Tailgate workbench and 360º lighting The tailgate can also double as a mobile workbench with an integrated ruler and clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials. Zone lighting – controlled via the SYNC screen or through the FordPass App – provides 360º lighting for better visibility around the vehicle. Load box lighting is provided under the left and right hand rails. With so much focus on customer needs, Ford has become a lot more customer-centric and depending on the market, it will provide a suite of services such as being “always on” – whether you have questions about the vehicle or need assistance. It has have Ranger Concierges in key markets who will walk you through whatever you need to know, the FordPass App, or if you have a question or want to learn more about how to best use the Ranger’s hi-tech features, such as the Ford Pass app, it’s covered with its “Master your Ranger” virtual or hands-on education. The new Ford Ranger will be built at the company’s plants in Thailand and locally in Silverton, Pretoria beginning next year. An exact on-sale date has not been announced, niether has pricing nor local specification levels.

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