Ahead of the launch of a new model in mid-2022, we jumped behind the wheel of one of Australia’s best selling utes; the updated 2021 Ford Ranger Sport XLS Double Cab 4×4. We have to say, there’s a few nice touches that make this pickup a load of fun to drive.
Among the changes over its predecessor is the replacement of the dual 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster for a a more practical single 4.2-inch multi-function display and analogue tacho. What’s not to love.
Another great feature is the modem embedded FordPass Connect, allowing the owner to do all sorts of cool things with their Ranger, while not actually being in it, including remotely unlocking and locking it, and even starting it, with your smartphone.
Think about that for a moment. You can heat or cool the cabin, without unlocking it, while being away from the vehicle. In the heat of an Aussie summer, in the blazing sun, that might be the coolest thing ever (pun intended).
The FordPass Connect app also gives your phone access to a real-time odometer, fuel level, distance-to-empty and vehicle location, as well as other handy features such as alarm activation, how-to videos, Ford dealer locations, and a shortcut to roadside assistance.
The Ranger Sport is powered by Ford’s long-standing 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that makes a claimed 147kW and 470Nm. The powerplant can be matched to a six-speed manual or a six-speed auto (as tested).
The latter comes with a sequential manual shift option and normal and sport driving modes. It also has a part-time 4X4 two-speed transfer case and a standard fitment locking rear diff. And there’s heaps of torque!
We experienced wheel spin on inclined roads in wet weather, unladen, and the fix was easy and simple. Throw into 4×4 High with the rotational dial, and off you go. On the safety side, the Ranger Sport XLS comes packed with plenty of goodies.
You’ll find lane-departure warning, forward-collision mitigation, pedestrian avoidance with braking, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, cruise control, speed limiter, hill hold, and active lane-keeping assist.
There’s also trailer-sway control and braking assist, driver-attention detection, auto headlights, and front fog lights. The noise suppression does the jobs well, and this is a very quiet vehicle on the road.
Coupled with the surprisingly smooth ride, it’s consistent with the needs of a 4×4 ute. In a nutshell, despite now being one of the older 4×4 platforms on the market, the Ford Ranger Sport is still one of the nicest to drive.
Another nice feature is the high-res image offered by the reversing camera, which is super important in a 4×4 Double Cab pickup that can be difficult to manoeuvre around objects. You are definitely reminded of the Ranger’s size when parking, and the camera helps.
The rear tub offers generous dimensions too, measuring 1549mm long, 1560mm wide, 1139mm between the wheel arches, and 511mm high. It comes standard with four tie-down points and the Sport has a drop-in bedliner with tailgate protection.
It also has an assisted tailgate and a pair of LED lights under the sports bar, with a switch in the cabin. The tailgate is lockable, but not connected to the central locking, so you’ll have to use the key.
Operationally, the Ford Ranger XLS offers pretty decent fuel consumption (while Ford claim 8.9-litres/100km, we were happy to achieve what we thought was a respectable average of 10.5-litres/100km).
It has the cabin space of a large sedan as well, and that helps ensure the family stays happy and comfortable between stops. The Ford Ranger has a lot going for it, and can of course be used as a highly capable workhorse, and is an equally worthwhile off-roader.
The spare tyre is a full-size item, but it’s mounted to a steel rim rather than a matching black alloy. That aside, it has a 3500kg braked towing capacity, and the usual GVM rules apply when towing heavy trailers.
And while a new generation model is on its way, the current Ford Ranger has remained, in company with the Toyota HiLux, the vehicle of choice for so many Australians, regardless of market segment.
There’s a magnetism about the blue oval pickup that continues to attract a huge proportion of vehicle buyers, and while it’s never really been cheap, the mid-spec 2021 Ford Ranger Sport XLS Double Cab 4×4 can be had for $52,490 plus on-roads.
It’s available in five colours, including Aluminium Silver, Arctic White (as tested), Blue Lightning, Meteor Grey and Shadow Black, and is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and capped price servicing.
You can build your own on the Ford Australia website.
Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Ford Ranger Sport XLS Double Cab 4×4, contact your local Ford dealer.