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Technical analysis - Archive

29/08/2012
A GLOBAL OFF-ROAD

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF THE FORD RANGER 4X4
Conceived in America, developed in Australia and built in Asia, Africa and South America, the new Ranger is a truly global off-road that will satisfy modern transport needs for work and leisure

Duilio Damiani

IN AMERICA they are fully aware of the potential of the 4x4 light trucks that have been at the top of its commercial classifications for a long time and are the irreplaceable companions for work and leisure. So it was no accident that among the first pickups of the automobile era it was the Ford logo that appeared in 1917 on the radiator grille of the “1 Tonne Pick-Up”, the truck that was the star of the automobile revolution at the start of the century. A tradition that was perpetuated in the years to follow and now, almost one hundred years later, is represented by the new Ford Ranger, a truly global vehicle designed to satisfy the mobility needs of the entire planet.
Designed in Australia and tested in the most difficult conditions, from the ice of the polar circle to the great heat of Middle East deserts to equatorial jungles, the third generation of the Ranger pickup that was presented for the first time in 1983, packs all the know-how of the American automobile colossus. The vehicle that is proposed on the Ranger platform is truly transversal and customized to meet the transport needs of the entire planet. It is just at home working on difficult natural terrain, thanks to the traditional rock-solid ladder frame and riveted body, as it is on long motorway journeys on account of a cab that’s like a GT saloon. With the exception of the US market, where Ford’s series F light trucks dominate, the Ranger is distributed to 180 world markets, which are in addition to three industrial centres located in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina where it is assembled. It has been in Italy since the start of this year in the 4x4 configuration with a single, super or double cab – but it is also available as a cab chassis for special configurations –, two engines and manual or automatic transmission, both with low range.

Three for two
The new Ranger range is developed on a completely new platform, which, depending on the level available on the Italian market, has three body configurations – the Single Cab with two seats and a long rear bed, the Super Cab with an extra two seats, and the spacious five-seat Double Cab. The bed is sufficiently roomy, over 1.5x1.5m for a useful load of up to 1,152 kg, a capacity made possible by its external dimensions: 5.27 metres long with the Single Cab and 5.36 metres for the two configurations with the longer cab, a width of 1.85 metres and a height of 1.8 metres, a generous 3.22 metre wheelbase, 23 cm minimum height from ground and attack angles that are characteristic of a real off-road, with a wading depth of 80 cm that is penalized only by the decidedly pronounced rear overhang, but it’s a feature that is common to all pickups. And it you need to attach a trailer, the 4x4 version with a maximum tow rating of 3,350 kg is the ideal tractor for large caravans or very big trailers.
The entire range is offered with two modern turbo diesel engines in the Duratorq series, with four or five cylinders, respectively 2.2 litres, 150 HP and 38.2 kgm of torque at 1,500 rpm, and 3.2 litres with peak power of 200 HP and 47.9 kgm of torque available between 1,500 and 2,750 rpm, which is particularly generous on passing and with a heavy load.

Two choices, both with either 6-speed manual or automatic transmission with high and low ranges. Four-wheel drive can be engaged without stopping the vehicle and is electronically controlled by the Traction Control System, which intervenes between the two axles or on individual wheels to simulate differential locking when required.
Like a premium class GT, dynamic management electronics assist driving in a wide variety of situations: from ABS with Emergency Brake Assistance, to the Electronic Stability Program to Hill- Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, not to mention Roll Over Mitigation and trailer sway control.
Latest generation technology also for the really spacious cab, especially in the five-seat version, with comfortable, quality interiors complete with the accessories that are essential in a modern vehicle, like the seven airbags for driver and passengers, premium-class leather finishes that come as standard starting from the Limited version, satellite navigation with 5-inch display, rear view  camera to help with manoeuvring, audio system with Bluetooth connection, USB socket and voice activated commands. Dual zone air conditioning efficiently maintains the inside temperature even on the hottest days and will also keep the beverage bin cool. With 23 storage areas there’s lots of room for everything and the central glove box is big enough to hold a laptop with a 16-inch monitor.


Off-road compromise
High and with a well-defined exterior, it certainly has the looks an off-road and although it is a vehicle of modern conception, it shares the characteristics of the most robust transport vehicles, such as a chassis separated by steel beams, rigid rear bridge and mixed suspension. The front chassis with oscillating arm independent wheels and helical springs that give better handling and precision even at high motorway speeds and the ultra-classical rear leaf suspension are of ancient memory but still robust and reliable, even on the roughest off-road tracks, especially with a full load. The result is certainly a compromise aided and abetted by rack-and-pinion steering that is fairly precise at speeds, with progressive servo-controlled hydraulics and a brake system with front discs and rear drums integrated with advanced electronic control.
Despite a variable weight depending on the version of between 1,891 and 2,063 kg (and up to 3,200 kg maximum permitted weight), with the most appetizing TDCi 2.2 engine with a declared top speed of 175 km/h, average consumption is 12 km/litre, which drops to 9.6 km/litre in the case of the TDCi 3.2 with automatic transmission, while still ensuring passing and acceleration that have nothing to be ashamed of compared to a medium powered car. On surfaced roads, the raised barycentre is compensated by a wide wheelbase, without any excessive leaning when cornering, and maintains precision when manoeuvring, which is also thanks to the tyres with shoulders that are not exaggeratedly high but have a touch of sportiness in the 18 inch configuration on the more dynamic 200 HP version.
A real road car that offers maximum levels of comfort and safety, despite the N1 homologation as a truck, which were confirmed by the results of the crash test that got it 5 EuroNCAP stars, the first vehicle of this type to do so.
The range of homologated tyres is on three levels, depending on the trim (XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak), from 255/70 R16 to 265/60 R18, all with a slightly sculpted tread design, with 16” steel or alloy rims for the entry versions of the range, 17” alloy rims for the intermediate segment, and up to 18” alloy rims for the top of the range.

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