AA Driven Car of the Year Ute class winner: Ford Ranger juggernaut continues
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Sometimes best-selling doesn't necessarily make a product the best in its class. But, it's fair to say that the Ford Ranger probably deserves its position at the top of the commercial vehicle registration table on both sides of the Tasman.
Sitting almost perfectly balanced between rugged workhorse and refined pseudo family wagon, the Ranger was crowned at last night's AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year ceremony as our best ute of 2019 (alongside Ford's outright award winner, the Focus) in a feat that won't surprise many.
While the bones of the Ranger remained largely unchanged this year, there were plenty of other upgrades laid on the popular pick-up.
The addition of a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine alongside the trusty 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel ruffled a few feathers, but will be looked back upon down the line as a turning point for the segment.
The new donk helps the Ranger achieve better fuel figures and more quiet daily commuting, while simultaneously matching the 3.2-litre for grunt and towing capabilities (3.5-tonne braked). Safety tech was upgraded this year, too, with Ford New Zealand confirming in March that all models would be getting Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection as standard.
“New Zealand Ranger customers are finding so many different uses for their Ranger, from workhorse to weekend off-roader through to safely heading out with the family,” Managing Director of Ford New Zealand Simon Rutherford said at the time.
“We’re glad to add to the versatility and capability of the Ranger line-up, and bring more value to customers with the latest updates. We’ll keep on working to make sure Ranger continues to be the vehicle that reflects what customers want.”
The other big addition to the Ranger line-up has been the bonkers, hilarious Raptor variant — an adventure ute in every sense of the word that's quickly established itself as a Kiwi favourite.
“It’s a marvelous balance that makes the Raptor remarkable on gravel. The only way to perceivably have more fun in anything else on dirt would be to go the aftermarket. I mean that,” we said during our end-of-2018 Raptor road test.
“By all means, point out its straight-line shortcomings, its tall pricing, and lost towing capabilities. And if you’re scoping out a Ranger predominantly for road use, an XLT or Wildtrak will perhaps fit your needs better. But, for those who want to explore, get filthy, get airborne, and play the social peacock every now and again, the Raptor is the best in the business.”