Safety and utility combined

by Andy Bryenton

Changes in the middle of a successful vehicle’s model year normally amount to a selection of small cosmetic tweaks, upgrading small areas of chrome or plastic to keep up with the ever-changing dictates of aesthetics. However, Ford has thrown us a nice surprise for their ‘0.75’ update of the 2019 Ranger, rolling out a formidable suite of safety and autonomy controls for all models.

The Ranger continues to reign as the nation’s favoured ute, with a strong showing at the National Fieldays and buoyant sales, especially in its Wildtrak specification. This level of spec already contains an arsenal of electronic safety features and some wizardry for helping to park and navigate the ute, but now similar suites are coming for the XLT and XT variants lower down the model diagram.

From July on, every single Ford Ranger produced will contain autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a lane keeping aid, which can alert drivers who are drowsy or preoccupied, advanced traffic sign recognition to read speed signs even if you miss them, automatic high beam lights and cruise control with an adjustable speed limiter. There’s the universal application of reversing cameras and rear parking sensors to fit in those tight spots. Hills will be tackled easily with hill launch assist going up and a sure-footed hill descent control coming down.

Add this to a very comprehensive dynamic stability control which ties in antilock brakes, load adaptive control, roll-over mitigation, traction control and a trailer sway control function, and the Ranger range, from top to bottom, represents perhaps the most safety-equipped light commercial you can buy in New Zealand. Competitors who have used the Ranger and its sales success as the benchmark for their own ute development now have a new target to aim for, and it’s sky high.

For those who buy with reason, this upgrade makes sound sense. Moreover, for those who buy with emotion, a new bi-turbo Ranger with a ten-speed automatic transmission is also waiting for a test drive, delivering smooth power and torque.