Ford PX Ranger XLT 4x4 Double-Cab road test review
IT WAS not an easy 2014 for Ford, with sales and market share in decline, but its Ranger 4x4 truck is very much a star pupil right now.
Last year saw sales of the Fiesta and Focus down more than 20%, Falcon and Falcon Ute both down more than 40%, and Territory dropped 31%.
With more than 22% more Rangers sold than in 2013, however, and a healthy 15.9% market share, these light commercials are keeping the blue oval badge flying proud.
Branch manager of Pacific Ford in Maroochydore, Greg Manchester, said about 80% of their current new sales were Rangers - an incredible amount for this specialist truck, and highlighting how desirable they are to Sunshine Coasters.
"It's not the cheapest one-tonner available, but it's the best truck out there specification-wise, as reported by the media and customers," he said. "As a towing machine, it's effortless with all that torque, and is selling so well because it is just a great product."
First impressions are certainly good. It looks very much like a mini USA-only F-Truck, and while inside the double-cab Ranger I tested there was incredible room for the whole family - more so than in some executive sedans I've sampled.
The cabin is also a luxurious place to be when compared to most light commercials. Seats are large and supportive with a high-quality cloth trim; you receive a five-inch colour display with sat nav and all the modern entertainment offerings with voice control you'd find in Ford's passenger cars.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel was pleasingly chunky in the hands, while standard dual-zone climate control was a blessed bonus in these humid times.
Allied to the car-like cabin feel were the Ranger XLT's on-road manners. Sure, you know you're in a truck due to its sheer bulk, but it handles confidently and remains comfortable over any road surface thrown at it, while also proving itself as a refined and well-insulated highway cruiser.
These premium double-cab trucks, when built this impressively, do make perfect sense as workhorses during the week and roomy family cars on weekends.
As standard on XLT models is Ford's 3500kg Towpack, making them attractive to grey nomads needing to tow a caravan behind something luxurious enough to enjoy spending a few months lapping the country.
And thanks to a stonking 470Nm from the 3.2-litre diesel arriving at just 1500rpm, hauling serious weight should be effortless.
It's not cheap, but the enduring popularity of these Rangers show those in the know rate this impressive truck as a superb all-rounder.
Model: Ford PX Ranger XLT 4x4 Double-Cab.
Details: Four-wheel drive five-seat light commercial truck.
Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 147kW @ 3000rpm and peak torque of 470Nm @ 1500rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 8.9 litres/100km (combined average, auto).
Towing: 3500kg (braked).
Bottom line: $54,490 as tested drive away.