New diesel powers a dynamic dual-use double-cab with impressive suite of technology, comfort and drivetrain features.

Such is the demand for New Zealand’s top-selling vehicle, as of August, Ford NZ held between 5000 and 6000 orders for its all-new Ranger line-up, with half of those sales powered by potent V6 engines in Sport, Wildtrak and halo Raptor variants. Wildtrak retains a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel option, the core engine for 4X4 models, and all three performance utilities feature 10-speed auto transmissions.

The 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine is new to the Ranger and it made an immediate impression on our introductory drive in Hawkes Bay. It joins the line-up because certain buyers sought more power and torque for towing and extreme off-roading, however effortless performance and impressive refinement are obvious benefits. The new V6 model delivers 184kW at 3250rpm and 600Nm between 1750 and 2250rpm, along with full-time 4WD and six selectable drive modes. Braked towing capability is 3500kg across all diesel variants.

Ford says its engineers developed the engine for application in both Ranger and Everest and it underwent extensive calibration and validation work in the US and Australia to strengthen its performance. Whereas Ranger Raptor used to be the sole model offering selectable drive modes that adjust everything from gearshift and throttle response to traction and stability control, the V6 Sport and Wildtrak now offer up to six modes: Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery for on-road, and Mud/Ruts and Sand for use off-road.

The on-road component of our drive programme suggested ride comfort and car-like performance remain Ranger hallmarks. A 50mm track and wheelbase increase has improved overall vehicle stability as well as both front approach and rear departure angles. The track increase has facilitated an increase in the width of the tray for a more versatile load space, and the rear dampers have been moved outboard of the springs, making for a more controlled ride regardless of whether or not the vehicle is laden.

The Melbourne-based design team led by Leigh Cosentino “explored a big bandwidth” when coming up with a design that blends universal appeal with usability. A large integrated central tech screen is a focal point of a “refined and futured cabin” with a notably upright instrument space. Cosentino says drivers will feel at home with the robust e-Shifter that couples with an electronic park brake and rotary select Drive Modes.

For the exterior, Cosentino says the assertive front design features modern dark accents and a prominent skid plate for a more aggressive look. He points to the Ranger identity being reinforced by the clamping graphic of the daytime running lights, horizontal grille bars and the name stamping in the tailgate that “heroes the brand”.

Crucially, the Ranger silhouette and distinctive Ford DNA remain instantly recognisable from a distance. The overall design benefits from an improved stance, tougher corners, more muscularity in the shoulders and beltline, and a more imposing vertical front end. The V6 fender vents are functional in that they draw air into the engine. Access to the side of the tray has been improved by the clever integration of a ‘box step’ between bumper and rear wheel.

Despite the V6 Rangers attracting fees under the Clean Car Discount scheme and putting Ford under pressure with the Government’s Clean Car Standard impacting distributors from 2023, the new Ranger represents such a big step forward that the best-dressed and best-performing examples look set to remain as popular as ever.




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