Ford just couldn't keep their hands off of the Ranger.
It first came out in 2012 and has since had a string of updates. By 2015, it got a facelift, getting an Everest-style front end and got smart technologies that were reserved for luxury cars in the past. To be honest, I felt that the Ranger didn't really need an update. After all, it was a good truck to begin with.
Of course, no vehicle is perfect, and the Ranger was no exception. The 3.2-liter, while impressive and powerful, wasn't exactly a fuel sipper. So Ford went back to the drawing board and gave it a new heart. The result is a smaller engine. A 2.0-liter, to be exact.
So it's what Ford has invited us to try out, but the story doesn't end there. You see, the new engine is more powerful than before, thanks to the addition of another turbo. Yes, you can now get the Ranger with the same engine as the Raptor-ized version, but will it make sense in the standard model? Let's find out.
We convened at the Luxent Hotel in Timog Avenue and, after a short briefing, we were out on the road. Around the city, you could begin to feel some differences. For starters, it felt quieter, more refined than before. From the driver's seat, it was already starting to show off some of its talents, especially that 10-speed transmission.
While we're on the subject, that 10-speed automatic does a good job of spreading out the power, at least in city conditions. Aside from the occasional stumble in the first and second gears, it was smooth in operation, but the real test would come in later.
Out of the city and on to the highway, the new engine really showed off its stride. Just when I thought that the 3.2-liter was punchy, the twin-turbo 2.0-liter made even shorter work of overtaking. 213 horsepower may not sound like a lot, but the powertrain combination worked well together. Aside from better overtaking abilities, there was a bigger improvement in fuel economy, with the trip computer showing 14.2 kilometers per liter.
But as impressive as the twin-turbo was, there is something I miss about the 3.2-liter. With its five-cylinder configuration, it had a unique engine note, something not heard in the 2.0-liter Bi-Turbo. The Bi-Turbo was quiet and refined while the 3.2-liter was gruff and characterful. Still, the fuel economy figures and power delivery spoke for itself, and this new engine is a cracking one.
So far, so good then, and it was time to take on provincial roads. For that stint, I switched to the XLT, which still used the same 2.2-liter engine updated in 2015. Three years ago, I called the engine impressive, especially for a relatively compact mill. But that opinion changed rather quickly when we got back on the road.
Now, I'm not saying it's a bad engine all of a sudden, but rather, the difference was night and day. With a 50 horsepower deficit against the 2.0 Wildtrak, it was bound to be left in the dust. Overtakes suddenly felt more difficult, pinning the throttle to the floor just to make the pass. If anything, the Wildtrak's twin-turbo diesel simply highlighted just how fast technology moves. What felt like a good engine three years ago suddenly felt like an engine from the early 2010's, and the engine in the Wildtrak was simply leaps and bounds ahead.
We finished the first day in the XLT and I have to say, I was already itching to get in the Bi-Turbo Wildtrak again. It just felt more confident to drive with its power and handling. Plus, at least from my point of view, the brakes felt better in the Wildtrak, and more comfortable too. The space between the mid-spec model and the top of the line variant is even further than before.
On to day two and we went for a spot of light off-roading. It was nice to know Ford kept the good traits of the Ranger as it was still comfortable on the rough stuff. It still felt as solid and robust as it did from the first time I drove it three years ago. Plus, they kept that 800 millimeter wading capacity in the twin-turbo model, which was put to good use during the drive.
Now, you may be asking how the Wildtrak feels against the Raptor. After all, the two essentially have the same engine. For now, you'll have to wait but, as Ford Philippines' General Manager Bertrand Lessard said, it's a totally different animal.
After that, it was back on pavement and on the trip going back home, I couldn't help drawing comparisons from the 2015 model. That time, I called it the one of the best pick-ups I've driven, being smooth, powerful, and comfortable. Today, I still have the same thoughts about the Bi-Turbo Ranger, but it's several steps above the first facelift model. The torque, power, and efficiency was something I haven't experienced in a pick-up.
Perhaps it was right for Ford to update the Ranger. It's good to know that they aren't resting their laurels and continue being one of the best pick-ups in the market today. You have to laud Ford for not being complacent in the truck market, and that's good news for those shopping for an all-around hauler for work and life.
Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Ranger is still a hugely impressive pick-up. After all, Ford practically invented the breed over 90 years ago. Now that's some serious credential.