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» Home » Articles » New Car Reviews » Add - New Car Reviews » 2012 Ford Ranger XLT 3.2 Review

2012 Ford Ranger XLT 3.2 Review

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28/11/2011, 16:05   Car Review By MURRAY HUBBARD  

Every now and then you witness a pivotal vehicle in the motor industry ... one that lifts the bar forcing all rivals to elevate their game. Right now that is the new Ford Ranger 3.2 litre turbo-diesel. After a few days in this Australian-designed and engineered dual cab Ranger XLT 3.2 we have nothing but praise ... with one exception: the six-speed manual transmission. It’s not the sharpest tool in the box. The six-speed auto on the other hand is refined.

front view 2012 Ford Ranger

For years Toyota’s HiLux has dominated sales in this segment against serious opposition from Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max and relative newcomer Volkswagen Amarok. Ford Ranger has set a new benchmark in a workhorse/recreation ute that screams catch me if you can. We also got to drive the auto Ranger for a short haul and this slick transmission delivers the goods. Ranger is destined for sale in 180 countries. The new Mazda BT 50 was developed alongside the new Ranger with the pair sharing a lot of commonality.

Side rear view 2012 Ford Ranger


So, what makes the Ranger the new benchmark in this competitive segment. In a nutshell: looks to kill, a 3.2 litre turbo diesel that rocks, great on-road performance, comfort, the quietest cabin in the dual cab market, excellent off-road performance, terrific leg room for rear pew passengers, the best towing rate in the class and one of the biggest cargo tubs in its class. Then there’s the technology.

Cabin 2012 Ford Ranger



Think of a compact Ford F 250 particularly around the pointy end and you get the idea. It looks and drives tough. Inside the cabin you get a feeling of looking down on most cars and across at 4WDs apart from the odd F250 that is going by. It is a clever vehicle. The front door has been shortened slightly bringing the B-pillar forward to allow for a wider rear door that opens to almost 90 degrees with the result being easier access to the rear seats without compromising access to the front pews. Hefty tradies grabbing a lift to and from work will thank you.

Engine Ford Ranger



What an engine! The 3.2 litre, five cylinder turbo-diesel boasts 470 Nm of torque and 147 kW of power. But where this power-plant excels in how it delivers the grunt, smoothness and quietness. We gave away using first gear - even in high-range it is still a ‘crawler’ gear - and used second on flat ground and even tried third on downhill inclines, at no time receiving any complaint from the engine or drivetrain. Once rolling the 3.2 litre Ranger pulls away effortlessly from a low rev base under 1000 rpm. Around town just stick it in third and drive it like an auto.

4WD shifter switch Ford Ranger


We have already commented on the manual transmission, however suffice to say it is a short-shift, close-gate shifter that does not naturally ease into the next gear. These days smooth shifters are a dime a dozen and it is a pity Ford did not sort this out prior to launch. The gear ratios are excellent and sixth gear is aimed at high-speed, low-rev cruising for maximum efficiency. At the same time it does not sacrifice passing ability without changing down a cog.

manual gearshift Ford Ranger


We took the Ranger off-road and are highly impressed with the ease and simplicity of the 2H, 4H and 4L dial-type switch. Serious off-roaders will be impressed with the Ranger’s extremely low crawling ability for rock-hopping while the huge amount of torque on tap, combined with the basics of lowering tyre pressure and maintaining momentum, means the Ranger will go very well in soft sand. XLT comes standard with a rear differential lock. Ground clearance is 237mm.


Ford Ranger off-road

Some technology is unable to be added to vehicles through their lifespan, so Ranger benefits from the latest bells and whistles. Dynamic Stability Control is standard on all Australian models as well as the latest features that are, in many cases, suited to a large truck-like vehicle. These include hill descent control that helps the driver on steep downhill grades, hill launch assist that stops the vehicle rolling backwards, trailer sway control adding stability when towing, adaptive load control that adds stability when carrying a heavy load, emergency brake assist, emergency brake light that flashes the indicators when the vehicles decelerates quickly and roll-over mitigation that helps prevent the vehicle from getting into a situation where it could roll over. Front, side and curtain airbags, pre-tensioning seat belts and child restraint anchorages are all there.

Rear virw Ford Ranger off-road

We tested two of the above technologies, hill descent control and launch assist. Because the first gear in Ranger is basically a crawler gear and then you add to that low range transfer, the Ranger is already adept at tip-toeing down steep hills. Hill descent adds to that ability. Launch assist is not so important with automatic vehicles, but is handy with manuals and with the Ranger being a large, heavy vehicle with impaired vision at the rear, this is a vital bit of kit which came into use surprisingly often during our time in the truck.

Technology Ford Ranger


While the Ranger exterior makes a bold statement the cabin is thoughtful in design but standard fare when it comes to matching the exterior. It is, above all, practical and functional and does not try to be too smart. You could easily be in the cabin of a mid-range sedan.

There’s a lot to like about the interior: 20 storage spaces and bins dot cabin with an 8.5 litre centre console bin. In the XLT and Wildtrak models this bin is chilled by the air-con and takes 6 cans of drink. Each door can take a 1.5 litre water bottle and the glove box swallows a 16 inch lap top. Mobile telephone holder, small change bin and even a pen cradle are all in easy reach of the driver and front seat passenger.

With technology moving faster than the legendary ‘speeding bullet’ Ranger has the latest with Bluetooth, USB and iPod integration and voice control over the radio, CD, iPod and mobile phone. Even cruise control is standard across the entire range. Unfortunately only the top-of-the-line Wildtrak gets a rear-view parking camera, as part of the deal with a five-inch colour screen with satellite navigation.

Large tray Ford Ranger


The 2012 Ford Ranger is a delight but if you choose the manual transmission hooked up to the 3.2 litre turbo-diesel there are some nuances to look out for. With first gear set up as a crawler gear for hauling heavy boats up ramps or towing heavy vans or horse floats, in normal use it is best to take off in second gear. This is amplified when in low range when first is for using engine-braking to crawl down steep descents or to climb boulder-strewn ascents. For those reasons off-roaders will impressed with the new Ranger and it’s 800mm wading depth.

On road the new Ranger is really in a class of its own. The cabin is as quiet as a refined European marque, the diesel engine is quite sublime delivering heaps of grunt with a minimum of fuss. In the past we have talked about how under-stressed the 3.0 litre turbo-diesel is in the Isuzu D-Max. It has lost that crown to 3.2 litre Ranger. Cruising at 110 km/h Ranger idles along at under 2000 rpm. The 2012 Ranger is an incredibly refined ‘truck’ that is a must-drive for anyone looking at a workhorse or recreational dual cab.

Brake light in sports bar Ford Ranger


3.2 XL diesel Super Cab $44,390

3.2 XLT diesel Super Cab $50,890

2.2 XL diesel Double Cab $43,890

3.2 XL diesel Double Cab $46,390

3.2 XLT diesel Double Cab $53,390

3.2 Wildtrak diesel Double Cab $57,390

(*Pricing does not include dealer or government charges)

FEATURES (2012 Ranger XLT)

ABS Brakes: standard

Air Conditioning: standard

Automatic Transmission: optional

CD Player: standard

Central Locking: standard

Cruise Control: standard

Dual Front Airbags: standard

Front Side Airbags: standard

Stability Control: standard

Traction Control: standard



Capacity: 3.198 litres

Configuration: in-line five cylinder

Head Design: 20 valve

Compression Ratio: 15.7:1

Bore/Stroke: 89.9 mm x 100.76 mm

Maximum Power: 147 kW @ 3000 rpm

Maximum Torque: 470 Nm @ 1500 - 2750 rpm


Driven Wheels: 4WD

Manual Transmission: 6-speed

Automatic Transmission: 6-speed

Final Drive Ratio: 3.73:1


Length: 5351 mm

Wheelbase: 3220 mm

Width: 1850 mm

Height: 1821 mm

Turning Circle: 12.7 metres

Kerb Mass: 2195 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres

Towing Ability: 3350 kg (kg with braked trailer)


Floor length: 1549 mm

Top of box: 1485 mm

Width: 1560 mm

Width between wheel arches: 1139 mm

Height: 511 mm

Rear opening width: 1330 mm

Floor height to ground: 840 mm


Front Suspension: coil over strut

Rear Suspension: leaf springs

Front Brakes: ventilated discs

Rear Brakes: drum


Type: diesel

Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 9.9 L/100km


Greenhouse Rating: 5/10

Air Pollution Rating: 3/10


3 years/ 100,000 km

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