Car reviews - Ford - Courier - XL Crew-Cab 4x4 utility
Tough, durable, reliable, fairly comfortable, dependable
Room for improvement
Cabin is a little tight, safety refinement and comfort factors not up to passenger car standards
7 May 2003
JAPANESE manufacturers have virtually created the medium-size engine, workhorse utility market and continue to dominate what is now quite a large market niche.
The 1990s saw the addition of extra and double cabs to the model line-ups with more comfort and convenience equipment added to appeal to a wider market.
The double cab versions have enough room to accommodate a family and carry a sizeable load in the cargo bay. Add four-wheel drive and they become an economical alternative to the larger, station wagon-based all-wheel drives.
The Ford Courier and its rivals are evenly matched in price, looks, load carrying ability and equipment. Each of them are capable off-roaders with plenty of ground clearance, without being so high you have to climb up into them.
The Courier is built in Japan by Mazda and is also sold in Australia as the Mazda Bravo. The present model was released in 1992 and received a power boost from an improved fuel-injected engine.
The XL crew cab version is quite well equipped for a commercial ute. There are well shaped bucket seats for the driver and front passenger and room for three more passengers on the rear bench seat.
Power steering, central locking, a two speaker AM/FM radio/cassette and intermittent wipers are standard while air- conditioning was an optional extra.
The 2.6-litre, four-cylinder engine has a single overhead camshaft, three valves per cylinder and electronic fuel- injection.
The power output and torque are both near the top of the class with 92kW at 4600rpm and 206Nm at 3500rpm.
The transmission is a five-speed manual - no automatic was available with four-wheel drive - which transmits power to the wheels via a high and low range transfer box. The front wheels have manually-operated free wheeling hubs to reduce rolling resistance and save fuel on the highway.
Sixteen-inch steel wheels are fitted with steel belted radial ply tyres which give the Courier good grip and traction. The suspension does quite a good job in smoothing out the bumps considering it also has to be able to carry up to 1125kg of people and cargo.
The Courier is built for hard work and some of them have had a hard life. If they have been used in rough country or in or near salt water, their mechanical and body life will be drastically shortened.
Well cared for examples have had excellent depreciation performance.
The Courier XL Crew Cab is just as capable of ferrying the kids to school as taking the family on an outback trip. It does not make as strong a statement as a full-size four-wheel drive but does not have to visit the service station as often either.
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