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Review: 2021 Ford Ranger XLT

Review: 2021 Ford Ranger XLT

It could be said that the Ford Ranger is the pick-up that kicked off a revolution. The current generation was launched a decade ago in Australia, October 2010, to be exact. When it arrived here in 2012, testers noted that it was one of the most comfortable, best-handling pick-ups you can choose. Its rivals took notice and stepped up their game, too.

But the current model, dubbed the T6 is now headed for retirement. The all-new Ranger is on its way and likely to arrive here sometime in 2022. It's also undergone a series of facelifts to keep it bang up to date, but so have the newer, fresher competition. The question now is this: Is is still worth it whether it's new or used? A test drive is in order.

What we have here is the XLT model that sits in the middle of the range. It's better equipped that the XLS, but not quite the fully-loaded version compared to the Wildtrak. The XLT is also nowhere near the levels of the off-road trail-focused FX4 Max and high-performance Raptor. Nonetheless, it's one of the popular variants and the one you'll often see in second-hand markets such as Automart.PH.

The XLT was recently refreshed with a slightly enhanced exterior design. The 2020-2021 models come with gloss black trim on the grille, fog-light housings, and even the wheels. But other than that, it looks largely like the major facelift version that first came out in 2015. It's a familiar sight that won't divide opinion, but it won't exactly stand out given how common it is these days. Then again, it won't make much sense for Ford to give it a dramatic new look given that the all-new model is on its way to the Philippines.

It's the same story when it comes to the interior. The dashboard layout is the same, right down to the buttons and dials on the center stack. This being the XLT version, there isn't much in the way of soft-touch materials, but that's expected in a model like this. For the most part, the controls are easy to use and there's little adjustment needed if you're coming from a Japanese vehicle. However, there are two things worth pointing out.

For starters, the Ranger doesn't have a telescopic steering wheel. That means you have to pull your seat closer to find a comfortable driving position. It doesn't matter if you get the XLT or the Raptor, all Ranger models are like that. It's something to keep in mind if you have short arms. Another is the unusual orientation of the steering wheel controls. Normally, radio controls on the steering wheel are placed on the left while the cruise control is on the right. In the Ranger, it's the other way around and it will catch you out for the first couple of times you use it. Interestingly, some Ford models have the steering wheel buttons in the usual place. Equipment levels are good for a mid-spec pick-up truck. It has cruise control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, multiple USB ports and six speakers.

As for interior space, it's one of the most spacious pick-ups out there. There's more than enough room at the front and the rear is decent as well. The seats are a touch on the firm side, but not to a point that you will get backache. Storage space inside is fair, plus you can hide valuables in the flip-up rear seat.

Since we're talking about a pick-up, let's take a look at the bed. It's one of the largest in its class so loading won't be a problem. The payload is also one of the highest and can carry up to 1,300 kilograms over its classis. If it's a workhorse you're looking for, the Ranger is a good bet.

Now, for the engine, and it's the familiar 2.2-liter TDCI from the past couple of years. Power is rated at 160 PS and 385 Nm of torque. Among the lower-spec competitors, those numbers are on par with the class. It then shifts with a tried-and-tested six-speed automatic

For those who own the current version, you won't feel any performance difference between this (final) facelift version and from the ones from years ago. Power delivery is just right as it sends the torque in one big lump.

Its competitors have moved on in terms of response as turbo lag is more noticeable in the 2.2 TDCI. It's also a touch on the noisy side since the Ranger XLT does not benefit from the noise cancellation in higher-spec models and Everest Titanium. If you want more punch and refinement from the engine, you have to go for the 2.0 EcoBlue turbodiesel in the Wildtrak.

That's not to say the TDCI is a bad engine. It still delivers the goods and should be adequate for most. Despite the engine's age, fuel economy is decent. You're looking at 8-9 kilometers per liter around the city, and 12-13 kilometers per liter in light traffic. That said, the EcoBlue is slightly more efficient thanks to its 10-speed automatic transmission.

For those considering a brand-new or used example of the Ranger XLT, you're probably wondering how it drives. Even though it's one of the largest pick-ups in its segment, it's also light to drive and that's no exaggeration. The steering effort is minimal and almost car-like, making maneuvers in tight spaces a lot more manageable. However, some might find the steering a little too light around town speeds. Thankfully, it becomes more weighty and offers more feel and feedback the faster you go.

As for ride, it's good for a pick-up truck, but don't expect luxury car levels of comfort, though. The ride at the front is on the soft side while the rear isn't too stiff. But if you want even more comfort, the Nissan Navara is worth checking out as well. All in all, it's still more comfortable than some newer competitors. That's impressive given the age of this model.

Is it worth recommending the Ranger XLT? That depends. Reliability has been a bit of a mixed bag over the past few years. There are those who say that it's one of the most robust and dependable trucks they have owned. At the same time, there are also those who experienced problems along the way. Some complaints include air-conditioning problems, electrical issues, pipes that let go in high-mileage models, turbo faults on some units. If you're willing to take a gamble, make sure to have a good look at it when buying used. For those who own faultless Rangers, they say it's worth the ownership experience.

The XLT may be a relatively basic model, but it offers a solid value proposition despite being the oldest pick-up in the market at the moment. Not only that, it's still a good performer and can still keep up with the newer competition. Ownership experience aside, the Ranger gives a good impression for those looking for a pick-up. This is why there are high expectations for the all-new model that's coming soon to the Philippines.

With that in mind, the current model is still a solid buy. They're even better value when you look for them in the used car market. If you're looking for a second-hand Ranger, check out our stocks at our website, Automart.PH.