|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
With the handsomely rugged Wildtrak getting the lion’s share of attention; it’s actually good to look at the mid-range XLT particularly if budget is constrained. Priced at P 1,279,000 for this automatic transmission example, it’s a full P 141,000 cheaper than the next higher variant—the 2.2 Wildtrak. Yet, it’s well kitted to satisfy even the most discerning car enthusiast, let alone, pickup buyer.
The 2016 exterior is causing a bit of controversy with its overly brash chrome grille. Gone is the boxy headlamp and grille treatment and in its place is something far more angular and complex. Though some may not find this to their liking, but it does serve the purpose of modernizing the Ranger’s front clip. The baller-friendly grille does get you noticed, but the rest of the elements tie in well like the projector headlamps. Over at the sides and the rear, pretty much everything has been carried over with the exception of new designs for the step board and wheels.
Inside, the changes to the Ranger are far more noticeable and welcome. The tough wearing workhorse inspired interior continues but has been softened giving a look and feel that’s a mix of SUV and passenger car. The design goes horizontal with the T-shaped dashboard. Though chrome and aluminum accents are usually passé now, it still works with the Ranger’s straight-to-the-point black cabin. Settling in the driver’s seat, the new switch gear and control layout is much more intuitive. The gauges, though not as pretty as the twin LCD display found in the Wildtrak, are clear and easy-to-understand. The center console also loses the Casio G-Shock inspiration for something more SUV-ish. To the uninitiated, the multitude of buttons look daunting, but even if they’re crammed near small infotainment screen, they’re easy to operate. However, it does require you to momentarily look at what button you’re pressing less you want to suffer from One Direction blaring out of your speakers.
With all its opponents now boasting upgraded drivetrains, Ford has decided to stick with the tried-and-tested 2.2-liter 4-cylinder CRDi engine for this XLT variant with a modest boost in power: 158 horsepower (up eight) and 385 Nm of torque (up 10 Nm). These uprated figures may seem minor, especially considering the mass of the Ranger, but it surprisingly feels much sprightlier than before. Whereas the previous 2.2 XLT felt sluggish until the turbo kicked in, the 2016 version feels light even from a standstill. Because of improvements to both the electronic throttle and shifter logic, there’s actually good pulling power even from down low. As always, it remains smooth and linear all the way reaching highway speeds effortlessly. Together with less parasitic loss from the electric power steering system (a first for a pickup), the XLT sees an actual 20-percent improvement in fuel efficiency logging in 9.90 km/L in the city compared to just 8.19 km/L before.
The Ranger’s underpinnings are far from revolutionary given it’s riding on the traditional Double Wishbone and Leaf Spring combination. However, engineers have tuned the suspension quite well. No changes have been made to spring and damping rates, but the increased sound deadening around the passenger area does lead a more refined, comfortable experience for everyone. The ride is still one of the segment, but add to that an engine that's quiet and rarely makes a rukus? It feels perfect. It’s no longer the most supple but it manages the ride and handling equation well with minimal jarring or floating both of which are common pickup traits.
However, despite feeling planted, the electric power steering feels disconnected. Aside from offering little feedback, the feather-light effort required to pilot the Ranger upsets the overall balance. More than once, you feel like you can negotiate a tight turn only to hit the end of the steering rack. Thankfully, manuevering it around to do a quick reverse is easy because of the excellent visibility afforded by the large, letter-sized mirrors and now, standard backup sensors.
As far as product refreshes are concerned, the Ford Ranger delivers more than what you’ve come to expect. Sure, some truck-like qualities remain, but the 2016 model starts to blur the lines between workhorse, SUV, and passenger car even more. Ford need not have updated the Ranger, but they have, and the resulting product is clearly a step ahead of the rest once more. It’s designed and engineered to lead the pickup race, a trait it still manages to keep up to now.
2016 Ford Ranger XLT
|Ownership||2016 Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT 4x2 A/T|
|Year Introduced||2012 (Refreshed: 2015)|
|Body Type||4-door + 1 tailgate pickup|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Common Rail, Turbo|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||160 @ 3,200|
|Nm @ rpm||385 @ 1,600-2,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,896|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||Semi-Elliptic Leaf Spring|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Bridgestone Dueler HT 684 II 265/R65 R 17 T (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Rear|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|