South Africa

Ford Ranger XL might be a Plain Jane, but it’s a keeper

Some four months ago we were offered a Ford Ranger for long-term evaluation. Not a top-of-the-range bakkie, but an entry-level 4×2 Double Cab in XL guise. How were we going to survive the hardship?

But the irony now is that this silver Plain Jane XL has been one of the best Ford Rangers we have ever had.

It might not have had hand-stitched leather. And had horrible tallow halogen headlights. And used a thing called an ignition key that had to be stuck into the steering column to start.

But this Ford Ranger XL still offered plenty in a fully digital instrument panel. This includes the latest SYNC 4A system, which comes ready with its voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems. And a large 10.1-inch touchscreen in the centre stack.

ALSO READ: Ford Ranger XL not shying away from its fancier siblings

Safe as a house

It might be entry-level Ford, but it offers more modern digital equipment than most of the competition does now with their top-of-the-range offerings.

Adding to the interior spec list, you also get the comprehensive Dynamic Stability Control system which incorporates ABS, Load Adaptive Control, Roll Over Mitigation Traction Control, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Launch Assist. These are in addition to a full complement of seven airbags: dual front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as driver’s knee airbag.

Now, what might be very entry-level on paper is the engine and gearbox. But that is where the entry-level part ends once again.

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Ford Ranger XL towing
Towing a race car was light work for our Ford Ranger XL. Picture: Mark Jones

The Ford Ranger XL’s engine is “only” rated 125 kW and 405 Nm. These numbers are a mere 7 kW and 20 Nm more than the previous generation 2.2-litre Ranger base model that came in at 118 kW and 385 Nm as we have stated before.

Ford Ranger XL drills Hilux and Navara

But it drilled the 2.2 by nearly five seconds to 100 km/h, which was a little unexpected. What did blow The Citizen Motoring away was the real-world performance of this 2.0-litre single turbo diesel. It beat Nissan’s 140 kW Navara and the 150 kW Toyota Hilux.

ALSO READ: Ford Ranger single turbo drills Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara

Another perk of this 2.0-litre single turbo mill is now it has more than 10 000 km on the clock as it heads home to Ford SA. Our fuel consumption number has come in at an excellent 8.8-litres per 100 km. And this includes everything from fast driving, flat out testing, traffic jam madness to towing race cars around.

A double cab bakkie these days needs to be way more than just a workhorse for lugging around junk on the back. It must move your family around safely and in comfort too, while offering a full suite of luxury and technical spec. Ford’s next gen Ranger has all these bases covered, and this is why this bakkie is South Africa’s car of the year for 2023.

ALSO READ: WATCH: New Ford Ranger brings nuke to Mzansi’s bakkie war

Ford Ranger XL odo
Superb fuel consumption for the more than 10 000 km covered. Picture: Mark Jones

Value for money

The Ford Ranger XL 4×2 Double Cab 6AT was priced at R563 500, and as with everything in life, this has increased slightly to R580 500 since we got ours. But, this still makes it one the best value for money offerings out there today.

ALSO READ: War between Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger gets X-rated

For this price you get a standard four-year/120 000 km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. But you need to purchase the service or maintenance plans you want.

It’s a sad day in our house, the family bonded with this Ford Ranger in a way we didn’t expect. It didn’t offer much at first sight, but it over delivered in spades.

Rumour has it though that the XL will be replaced in our long-term garage with the soon-to-be-launched Ranger Wildtrak X. I am sure this will result in happy faces once again.