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Bangkok show: Facelifted Ford Ranger revealed

Family resemblance: The front-end styling of the facelifted Ranger ute matches the look of its Everest SUV sibling.

Ford’s updated Ranger surfaces in up-spec XLT form with advanced driver tech

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Ford logo23 Mar 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

THE facelifted version of Ford’s Australian-developed Ranger utility has been officially unveiled in Thailand, touting advanced driver-assist technology, improved on-road dynamics, better diesel efficiency and an overhauled cabin.

Due in Australia in late July, the facelifted Ranger – first previewed by GoAuto spy shots as far back as June last year – is hitting centre stage at this week’s Bangkok motor show in high-spec XLT guise to show off its freshest features, with the remainder of the series, including the Wildtrak flagship, following over the next few weeks.

Safety technology new to the Ranger includes adaptive cruise control, ‘forward alert’, ‘lane keeping aid’, ‘driver impairment monitor’ and front and rear parking sensors, all of which combine to raises the level of active vehicle safety in the one-tonne ute segment in Australia.

Ford says the introduction of automatic engine idle-stop technology and electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering (replacing the previous hydraulically powered system) ushers in double-digit fuel efficiency improvements in the upgraded TDCi turbo-diesel drivetrains.

The diesels also benefit from the addition of extra sound-deadening and enhanced insulation materials.

The electric power steering system helps cut diesel thirst by three per cent, with assistance varying according to speed, wheel angle, cornering forces and acceleration. The suspension has also been retuned for improved on-road refinement and response.

As GoAuto reported last year, the face of the upgraded Ranger mimics the look of the Everest SUV that arrives in Australian showrooms later this year.

The front end is the most readily recognisable exterior change, adopting a trapezoidal grille, a more pronounced bumper, projector headlights and a more squared-off bonnet with strakes running its length, all in the name of giving the ute a more aggressive look.

As revealed in our 2014 report, the dashboard has been completely redesigned, with a more contemporary, car-like and higher-quality unit compared with the current model.

The dash layout, instrument placement and steering wheel all match that of the Everest, without the high-end materials of its more plush 4WD wagon sibling.

Plastics, instrumentation, air vents and switchgear are all new, as are the 8.0-inch touchscreen, ‘brightwork’ and steering wheel – the latter accommodating the increased functionality brought with the new driver-assist and multimedia technologies.

Ford’s Sync2 connectivity system comes onboard, featuring both broader capabilities and finer controllability. A 240-volt power socket for on-the-go charging has also been installed.

Ford Motor Company’s Asia-Pacific exterior design manager Dave Dewitt said the improvements to the cabin have not impacted useability in the updated Ranger.

“The interior of the new Ranger is sleek and modern, with a strong technical aspect to it,” he said. “Accentuating the design, we’ve chosen materials that are stylish and attractive while being durable enough to handle the harsh life of a work truck.

“The interior may look more car-like, but it’s as practical as ever.”

In terms of powertrains, the 2.2-litre four-cylinder TDCI turbo-diesel’s output jumps 8kW and 10Nm to 118kW/385Nm, with Ford claiming fuel efficiency gains of up to 22 per cent.

While the Blue Oval has not revealed specific fuel economy figures, there will be a drop from the current version of the 2.2-litre unit that currently ranges between 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres to 9.4L/100km, depending on the variant.

The more potent 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder TDCi diesel gains an exhaust gas recirculation system update that helps improve fuel efficiency by up to 18 per cent, which will boost the 8.9-9.6L/100km figures of the existing model.

Ford’s base 122kW/225Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine appears to be unchanged.

Australian-bound vehicles will continue to be sourced from Thailand, while plants in South Africa and Argentina will service Africa/Europe and South America respectively.

Ford’s Asia-Pacific vice-president of marketing, sales and service Brett Wheatley said the versatility of the Ranger will ensure it maintains its appeal to business buyers and families alike.

“The new Ford Ranger brings a new level of comfort and refinement to its segment without compromising on the rugged capability that our customers demand,” he said.

“It represents a smarter kind of tough, and will help our customers to achieve more, whether at work or with their families.”

The existing Ranger lobbed in 2011, following an extensive development program lasting several years and led by Ford Australia’s engineering and design teams.

Sales of the locally developed Ranger were impacted heavily by supply issues caused by the 2011 Thailand floods, with 18,092 sold in its first full year on sale, 2012, compared with 40,646 examples of the segment-leading Toyota HiLux.

However, Ford made up ground in 2013, lifting sales to 21,752 against the HiLux’s 39,931 to become the Blue Oval’s top seller in Australia.

More gains were made last year, with 26,619 Rangers sold, making it the sixth-best-selling vehicle in Australia last year, still trailing the third-placed HiLux with 38,126 units.

More information will be revealed closer to Ranger’s launch in the third quarter.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.