Car reviews - Ford - Courier - V6 range
Engine torque, acceleration, driveability, on and off-road performance, automatic transmission performance
Room for improvement
Handling balance, lack of rear-wheel traction, uncomfortable ride quality, notchy manual gearshift, intrusive centre console, aged interior and exterior design
25 Jan 2005
IT may be a six-pot but the mature Ford Courier V6 is certainly no sex-pot.
First off, the advantages of the 4.0-litre engine are clear. There is a terrific amount of torque to tow the Courier and its cargo with effortless ease on or off the road. Acceleration is sprightly and it will cruise the highway with power to burn.
But I'm not sure this potent shot of performance engineering is as perfectly executed as it would seem on paper.
In a nutshell, there seems to be just a little bit too much big truck engine in this light-truck application.
On anything other than smooth roads with light throttle, power delivery can upset the balance and overwhelm the rear wheels, resulting in a skittish, tail-wagging drive and an annoyingly jittery ride.
And even when you hit the highway driving at the national speed limit, the Courier never really felt settled, requiring a fair degree of concentration. Perhaps that 20mm ride height increase has come at this cost.
Granted, these vehicles will often have a load in the back, but that won't address the slightly wayward feel that the front-end has when roads are rough or rutted.
And as a result of all that torque on tap, the manual gear lever pulsates nervously in your hand, like a dog tugging at a leash.
Meanwhile, the centre console from where it sprouts from is intrusively wide, so your left foot never really gets a chance to be rested once the slightly heavy and notchy gear changes have been sorted.
It seems that opting for the five-speed automatic may be the smoother and more refined option, as this gearbox dishes out the drive in a more orderly fashion.
In the 4x4 models, driving in all-wheel drive 4H (high range) mode really did improve the Courier's grip on all surfaces, while improving steering stability and feel. It even smothered out the road for a noticeably better ride.
Unfortunately, nothing can hide the increasingly advancing age of the Ford.
In this era of the big new Holden Rodeo and upcoming Toyota HiLux, the cabin is an early '90s time warp, with piles of plain plastic on a generic dash.
It does seem to function ably, with clear instrumentation and easy access to all switches and controls, but today this just isn't enough anymore.
In one Courier on the test-drive program the air-conditioning ceased to work, and in another there was far too much wind noise.
The cabin architecture seems too small and compact for today's ever-expanding demographic, with the driver feeling hemmed in by that fat console, close windscreen header and relatively narrow interior width.
On the plus side, the rear seat in the Crew Cab model was surprisingly comfortable, and vision in all directions wasn't too bad at all.
In the end, though, the Courier V6 just doesn't have the style or presence to make much of an impact to the predominantly metro male demographic that's it's aimed at.
Ford mentions "aggressive" and "tough truck" styling in its press presentations, but while the Courier is in no way offensive or divisive in its design, it just doesn't have the looks or the youthful coolness to carry it off.
Yet it is suitably functional, so if you really need a compact light truck with enough six-cylinder guts to pull heavy loads about, then the reasonably priced and amply powerful Courier V6 shouldn't be dismissed.
But it looks, feels and drives like an ageing trooper. And that engine isn't the most harmonious in its increasingly more interesting class.
Ford does the six-cylinder utility vehicle exceedingly well, but it's made in Australia and has a 45-year heritage backing it up. Buy the Falcon ute instead.
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