Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Certainly no-one-trick pony: Ford Ranger Super- and Single-Cab Review

December 2022 saw Ford unveiling the long-awaited next-generation Ranger double cab, with immediate acclaim from critics and consumers alike. Now Ford is looking to take a big step in a market sector where it has historically fallen short, with the introduction of the Ranger single and super cab line-up. ANTON WILLEMSE JNR explains why this is his favourite segment of bakkies.

Late last year I attended the launch of the double cab next-generation Ford Ranger. I drove the mid-range XLT Bi-turbo variants and the top-of-the-range Wildtrak 3.0 V6 models and was impressed by the good-looking, well-kitted products filled with all the latest tech and features Ford has to offer. The Ford Ranger has always enjoyed a considerable market share in the double cab segment, especially at the higher end of the spectrum, but the brand seemed to struggle to find a footing in the super and single cab segments. So, the question is: can Ford give us a proper workhorse?

Getting the job done

Many people might see single and super cabs as mere commercial tools and for the most part, they’d be correct. However, such derivatives have emerged as attractive options within the overlanding community. So, it was fitting that I had my first drive in these models while exploring the rural Wild Coast and surrounding areas. The first variant I got my hands on was a super cab in the standard XLT spec. However, there was something different to this particular XLT: it had a single-turbo 2.0-litre engine rather than Ford’s familiar 2.0L bi-turbo.

I was a fan of the previous-generation 2.2-litre as it offered decent power and frugality and felt like a great option for an overlanding base. It was utilitarian, yet comfortable and practical. In the new line-up this engine was discontinued and replaced by the 2.0-litre, so I was excited to give it a go as we left Gqeberha and headed north toward Kenton-on-Sea. Since we were testing workhorses, we first stopped at Builders Warehouse to pick up a handful of JoJo tanks, some building supplies, and a few saplings. Remember, this wasn’t only the launch of the single and super cab models. Ford saw it as an opportunity to help the humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers, in its mission to aid those without running water in rural parts of the Eastern Cape, while also assisting the Cape Parrot Project in preserving BirdLife South Africa‘s 2023 Bird of the Year and South Africa’s only endemic parrot, the Cape Parrot. (Read more about this on page 64.)

The stop at Builders was a great way to demonstrate the benefits of the superior load capacity of both of the new derivatives. The next-generation Ranger sits on a chassis that is 50mm longer and 50mm wider than that of its predecessor. The load box of the single cab is an impressive 2 305mm long and 511mm deep, and it has a carrying capacity ranging from 964kg to 1186kg. It also features tiedown points and tie-down rails to help with securing cargo. Once we returned to the road, the 2.0-litre single turbo came into its own. I expected something a bit more agricultural, but it didn’t feel like an entry-level powertrain. Instead, it feels smooth and refined, putting out 125kW of power and 405Nm of peak torque.

These figures might not seem like much, especially when compared to the 2.0-litre bi-turbo (154kW and 500Nm), but what the 2.0-litre single turbo lacks in overall grunt, it more than makes up for in frugality. As I drove the six-speed auto, I achieved a figure of 8-litres/100km. The most frugal of the lot was the 2.0-litre single turbo in manual, which achieved a collective fuel consumption of 7.6 litres/100km.

The wild and the new

Ford South Africa is rolling out six super cab variants that provide the versatility of an extended cab and a large cargo area. The new generation also marks the first time that Ford offers a super cab in the ever popular and luxurious Wildtrak specification. Visually the Wildtrak stands out from the rest of the pack thanks to the signature mesh grille finished in signature Boulder Grey. The same colour is used for the mirrors and front and rear bumpers, translating into a very aesthetically pleasing package.

The Wildtrak super cab is a great bakkie for people looking for additional loading space whilst not sacrificing some essential creature comforts. It is exclusively available with the now familiar 2.0-litre bi-turbo, paired with Ford’s everpopular 10-speed automatic gearbox.

I have not always been overly fond of this powertrain and gearbox. The engine didn’t feel as refined as it could be in the previous generation and the gearbox was sometimes dim-witted, hunting for gears when you drive aggressively. However, Ford has sorted out all its issues and it feels like a new package. It has plenty of power on tap while not sacrificing frugality. In addition to some aesthetic tweaks, the Wildtrak comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels. However, a 20-inch rim is also an option.

Something for everyone

With the Ford Ranger line-up now being complete with the introduction of the super cab and single cab, one can confidently say that there is a Ranger for everybody, no matter your planned application. In addition to the stacked double cab line-up (including the performance-driven Ranger Raptor), Ford offers four XL single cab models, with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4, and in both manual and automatic. The XL super cab has manual and auto options for the 4×2 models or six-speed automatic for the 4×4 derivative. A locking rear differential is standard to aid traction in difficult off-road terrain.

On the design front, the XL series features 16-inch alloy wheels in Sparkle Silver fitted with locking wheel nuts, along with a body-colour front bumper and black rear bumper. A towbar is optional. The XL is a workhorse, but it’s probably one of the nicest workhorses on the market and is my preference as an overlander. Those looking for something with some more tech and safety features can opt for the XLT or the Wildtrak.

Model line-up & pricing

Single Cab

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×2 6MT: R464 200

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×2 6AT: R477 800

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×4 6MT: R531 300

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×4 6AT: R545 000

Super Cab

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×2 6MT: R485 400

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×2 6AT: R499 900

• 2.0L SiT XL 4×4 6AT: R542 900

• 2.0L SiT XLT 4×2 6AT: R547 100

• 2.0L BiT XLT 4×4 10AT: R688 900

• 2.0L BiT Wildtrak 4×4 10AT: R772 800

Verdict

In closing, the next-generation Ford Ranger is truly leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, as we saw last year with the introduction of the double cab. However, Ford has always been a popular option within the double-cab segment, with significant struggles in both the super and single cab markets. For some reason, many don’t regard the Ranger as a workhorse, but the latest iteration has the potential to alter that perspective. My favourite thing about the Ranger is the great value for money it represents. When driving a workhorse, you don’t expect any comfort or refinement, yet even the base models have an infotainment screen alongside wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. You have cruise control as standard amongst many creature comforts, which is absent in most other base model offerings. It’s a great product, the perfect overlanding vehicle. It proves to be an honest, hardworking workhorse – certainly not just a one-trick pony.

*All models are sold with a 4-year/120 000km warranty, a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty and 4-year/ unlimited distance roadside assistance. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first. Customers can purchase service or maintenance plans for up to eight years or 165 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km, while the roadside assistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.

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