FIRST DRIVE | Ford Ranger XL Sport offers lifestyle value at a snip
This model bridges affordability, family practicality and off-road grit to good effect, writes Phuti Mpyane
The new Ford Ranger XL Sport was launched back in October 2020 while the country was gripped with higher Covid-19 nervousness. I’ve just sampled what’s on offer through a three-day drive across three provinces.
Know that it’s actually not the ultimate Ranger in terms of luxury, performance or capability. It’s measured and designed by function and it’s aimed at the customer who will use it as family wheels, for work, and who also likes the occasional detour out into the bush veld but importantly, all this on a budget.
It’s got a specific look about it and off-road driving gear like a rear steel bumper that’s minus the reversing sensors, a gloss black grille and larger 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels shod with the most knobbly, standard fitment 17-inch rubber this side of a Raptor to help conquer difficult terrain.
Because bargain mountaineering is the target, a rear diff-lock, Hill Launch Assist (HLA), tow-bar and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are some of standard utilities fitted. Black side steps are a R5,050 option though.
It’s available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guise and you can have it in single, super or double cab body shape of you want. The part-time four-wheelers in the range add Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard fitment.
If you like balanced helpings of power and frugality at the pumps, you’ll like what you find here. Powered by a 2.2l four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi engine which produces 118kW and 385Nm, and mated to a six-speed manual or auto, it won’t out-accelerate a Raptor or Wildtrak. It will, however, follow them deep inside the bush and also haul up to 3,500kg.
Powering along roads, accruing respectable refinement from its mechanicals, it relishes long drives with family as it does rocketing along farm roads where the damping ensures comfort over distances and softens rough surface blows and providing exemplary grip when forming plumes of dust behind you.
Given the Ranger XL Sport’s value proposition, it’s still a new age bakkie with a cabin that offers something a little extra in terms of visual and tactile positives. For R6,080 extra Ford will fit a slightly top-tier colour infotainment system that works through a touch-operated 20.3cm display screen in place of the 10.1cm basic LCD display unit.
When optioned, customers can enjoy the modern benefits of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto such as mobile phone navigation. It hasn’t got voice-command though but it’ll support Bluetooth, text-to-speech for incoming smartphone messages and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Two USB slots provide additional multimedia connection options.
Safety is provided by dual front airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, remote-central locking, ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Traction Control, Roll-over Mitigation, Adaptive Load Control, and Trailer Sway Control.
The XL Sport Pack will cost an extra R16,500 above the regular Ranger XL series and they also come standard with a four-year/120,000km factory warranty.