Long term Ford Ranger: our work truck goes on holiday
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Ford Ranger FX4
• Rugged looks
• Versatile powertrain
• Still the best drive
• A bit pricy
• Silly sports bar
• Black gets dirty easily
We feel like we’ve upsized, as we climb into the double cab ute that is number one with Kiwis.
Think Texas. Everything seems that little bit larger in the Ford Ranger.
The blackness of this diesel-fuelled beast seems to add to that size. As do the wide dash, and the oversized door mirrors. And stitching everything together is the red thread detailing on the leather dash and door panels.
There’s a definite presence of testosterone. If the Ranger was a character in a Cars movie, there’s no way it would be fluttering its eyelashes; instead it would have wide shoulders and a swagger.
But don’t jump to the conclusion that this vehicle is aimed only at male drivers. We had more females than males telling us that this is the vehicle they’d love to be driving.
Read More: Just how fast does the Ranger FX4 2WD go?
We were keen to discover first-hand why this is NZ’s most popular vehicle. Interestingly, some articles we read have hinted at that popularity in part being down to them cruising under the Fringe Benefit Tax radar. The reasoning being that employees wouldn’t use them outside of work requirements.
We wouldn’t be able to restrict ourselves to commuting only. This is a ute that makes you want to throw the kids’ bikes on the back, load it up with garden green waste or secure the kayaks and head to the beach. It’s business at the front maybe, but the double cab and deck double business and pleasure, with room for tools, luggage, groceries and passengers.
We’re fortunate to be loaned the Ranger for a weekend up north. While first impressions are of its size, reminding us we need to remember its length especially when choosing where to park; second impressions are of the ease of driving. Steering is as light as a car, but the suspension is more solid than most sedans.
The cabin is extremely quiet; to check while travelling we lower the windows for confirmation that, yes, it is noisy outside.
Backing, too, is surprisingly relaxed with a combo of backing camera, park assist, sensors and those supersized door mirrors. You just need to choose where you park, as this ute proved longer than some of the marked parking areas on the sides of the road between Auckland and Whangarei.
On the motorway west to Helensville, the ute basically drives like a car, with little of the tractor noise some diesels have. Driving the hills of SH6 between Helensville and Wellsford with views over the Kaipara was a pleasure and we tolerated the swell in traffic numbers back on SH1 until the turnoff for Matakana, resulting in fewer drivers on the road.
We held our breath and squeezed into an allocated tight parking spot in Whangarei, but easily negotiated a right-of-way driveway to visit family.
And when Grandpa told the grandkids to have a look at what we had been driving, they had no hesitation saying they wanted one of those, too. It’s definitely family friendly and a family favourite.