Ford Ranger XLT V6 review

We’re fans of the new model

Spoiler alert: we like the new Ford Ranger. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the last model was arguably the pick of the dual-cab bunch, and the new model was carefully honed by Australian engineers. It’s safer, smoother, smarter and punchier than before, which is good news as Ford fans might have to live with it for quite a while.

Dual-cab utes have longer life cycles than most cars – new versions only crop up every 10 years or so, which makes fresh metal in this class particularly exciting.

But it is not cheap

Fresh technology comes at a cost, and you need to pay for the first-rate safety gear, tablet touchscreen, digital dash and revised engines in the Ranger. Prices run from about $47,500 drive-away for a basic four-cylinder XL model, to more than $92,000 for the twin-turbo petrol Raptor.

We’d need a spreadsheet to go through the myriad models and options in the showroom. The model tested here is a mid-tier Ranger XLT priced from about $67,000 plus on-road costs, to which you can add $3000 for an optional V6 turbo diesel engine, $900 for a touring pack including birds-eye cameras and $400 for a protective plastic bedliner. That’s a lot of cash for a ute, and you don’t get fancy features such as a 12-inch touchscreen or leather seats without upgrading to more expensive models.

There are plenty of clever features

The Ranger justifies its premium with advanced features such as forward and reverse emergency braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts that are hard to find in working utes. We’re less convinced by odd interior door handles and a fiddly gear selector that isn’t particularly intuitive.

There are some really clever touches such as side steps shaped into the body behind the rear wheels, a ruler moulded into the tailgate, and a nifty groove for French fry packets in the centre console.

The V6 option is worth paying for

If you’re spending sixty-odd grand on a Ranger, go the extra $3000 to add the V6 option. The 3.0-litre unit’s 184kW/600Nm outputs are much brawnier than the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four’s 154kW and 500Nm, making for effortless driving every day, and impressive punch when you need it.

You also get full-time adaptive four-wheel-drive, as opposed to four-cylinder models that drive the rear wheels until you manually activate four-wheel-drive on slippery surfaces. Our V6 felt sure-footed on tar and dirt, delivering impressive stability in mixed conditions.

You might be waiting a while

Ford’s official line on range-topping V6 Wildtrak models is that new orders “may take approximately 8 months to arrive”, which means you might have next year’s Easter chockies before there’s a new Ranger in the driveway. Luckily, the Blue Oval also says “there are much shorter wait times on other models like the Ranger XLT”. It sounds as though you might be better off forgetting about the Wildtrak’s leather trim – you’ll be sitting on the XLT’s cloth seats with less delay.

Originally published as Why the new Ford Ranger XLT is a winner