New Ranger 2.2 TDCi automatic is smooth combo
Already boasting the most expansive range of bakkies in South Africa, Ford has extended the Ranger family to 36 models by adding a derivative Ford thinks the industry wants, but just hasn’t asked for. Neither Isuzu, Toyota nor VW have an automatic model in this segment so this begs the question: will the Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi Automatic remain a niche item, or is it so good its competitors will follow suite?
Across the market automatic car sales are on the up, some divisions as high as 18%. Ford has taken the lead in the entry level LCV class and opted to fit the 2.2 TDCi with an automatic gearbox in the hope that they will attract buyers, who until now have only had the option of H pattern gearboxes.
On the Road
The route chosen by Ford for this launch was superb. A route at which Ranger excelled and showcased itself in its natural habitat. Long scenic cross country roads dotted with smooth winding gravel excursions. Ford Ranger cruised at the legal limit effortlessly, with brisk acceleration from the 118kW 385Nm engine and surprisingly smooth shifting through the 6 speed SelectShift automatic gearbox. Sport Mode is available but I fail to see the point. The gear lever is mounted quite far back and reaching back to shift gears simply wasn’t as much fun as leaving it in “drive” and letting the gearbox do what it does best.
Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi automatic feels completely at home on the dirt. With traction and stability engaged, the 2×4 cruised at between 60Km/h and 80Km/h and dispatched distances in relative ease and comfort. The usual leaf spring chassis issues prevail with bigger ruts and bumps upsetting the un-laden rear, however the computer sorted out most of the details and not much steering correction was needed. The effective ESP system comes with Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist, Trailer Sway Control, Adaptive Load Control, Roll-over Mitigation, as well as Hill Descent Control on the 4×4 models.
On the Dunes
With the tyres somewhat deflated and Four-low engaged the Ranger 2.2 TDCi automatic 4×4 was fun to drive and capable in the Mosselbay dunes. The torquey diesel at no point hesitating or out of its depth. I cringed a few times as we hit some of the steeper dunes but the approach angle and 230mm ground clearance was more than up to the task. The dunes we tackled were by no means highly challenging but again, for the average Ranger owner, the car proved it was at home doing the mandatory disciplines without the need for a clutch.
Uniquely it’s the only vehicle in its class boasting service intervals of 20 000 Km and now the only automatic LCV starting at around R300 000.
With the spec reading much the same the only real change on this one was the gearbox which was smooth, easy to use and non-intrusive. If you’re tired by the constant shuffle or just prefer and automatic then this might just be the bakkie for you.
Ranger 2.2 TDCi Automatic – Recommended Retail Prices (incl. VAT) from:
2.2 TDCi XL Single Cab 4×2 Auto R311 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Single Cab 4×4 Auto R426 900
2.2 TDCi XL Super Cab 4×2 Auto R357 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4×2 Auto R411 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4×4 Auto R472 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4×2 Auto R384 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4×4 Auto R426 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Double Cab 4×4 Auto R517 900
2.2 TDCi XLT Double Cab 4×2 Auto R482 900
All models are sold with a four-year/120 000Km comprehensive warranty, five-year/100 000Km service plan (optional on Base models), three-year/unlimited Km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 20 000Km.