I’m used to riding in large, high pickup trucks when traveling long distances than I am riding in a car. My fiancé Jessie drives one in Iloilo, and both my brothers also own trucks here in Manila. However, Jessie is looking to replace his old truck in Iloilo by the end of the year (once we get married!), so we test-drove the 2017 Ford Ranger on our recent back-to-back road trips to Tagaytay and Baguio with the family.
Jessie & I brought the Ranger with us to Tagaytay
Jessie and I also took the Ranger with us on our family trip to Baguio
Incidentally, one of my brothers, Pancho, drives a 2012 Ford Ranger, and he adores it and still drives it everywhere. He also brought his Ranger on our trip to Baguio, so we were able to do a side-by-side comparison. I asked him to take a look at the newer model of the Ranger so he can tell me how much has improved since the model he bought five years ago.
At first look, he was immediately impressed with the 2017 Ranger. He liked how it’s been equipped with the tech and sleek little details of higher-end, more advanced SUVs, like the Ford Everest (which I recently reviewed here). The latest Ford Ranger indeed boasts of a new array of smart technologies and an even bolder look for one of the world’s toughest and most capable trucks.
The smartest Ranger yet
My brother noted that there are way more controls on the steering wheel and dashboard of the 2017 Ranger compared to the 2012 model.
Steering wheel of the 2017 Ranger
Steering wheel of the 2012 Ranger
The 2017 Ranger boasts a full array of cutting-edge technology to help drivers stay connected and in control. It includes SYNC 3, the latest generation of Ford’s in-car connectivity system, which gives drivers smarter and safer ways to stay connected. Using natural voice commands, the driver can control the car’s climate controls, entertainment system, and navigation system more easily than ever before.
For extra convenience, the Ranger features a 230-volt power socket that can be used to power a laptop or tablet computer anywhere, even far away from civilization. I just wish it had more than just one USB port, although my brother told me that, based on his experience with the 2012 model, you can have this customized and ask for more.
Steering wheel and dashboard of 2017 Ranger
Steering wheel and dashboard of my brother’s 2012 Ranger
What also made our drive smoother was the Ranger’s array of driver assist technologies. There’s the Lane Keeping Alert and Lane Keeping Aid, which work together to help to prevent the driver from unintentionally drifting out of a lane when driving at high speeds. If the forward-facing camera detects the vehicle is straying from its lane, Lane Keeping Alert warns the driver with a vibration in the steering wheel (which Jessie found amusing). If no action is taken to correct the drift, the Lane Keeping Aid applies steering torque to guide the vehicle back into its lane.
It also has Adaptive Cruise Control, which my brother was quick to notice. It makes use of radar sensors to maintain both a preset speed as well as a preset distance from the vehicle ahead. When the system detects a vehicle ahead, it decelerates automatically to maintain a safe distance. It accelerates back to the driver’s preset cruising speed when the road ahead clears. An adjustable speed limiter helps drivers avoid unintentionally exceeding their selected speed. These three features were particularly useful to us while driving on SCTEX en route to Baguio, as there are CCTV cameras everywhere and traffic enforcers are particularly keen and strict, especially with the speed limit.
There’s also a Forward Alert, which works with Adaptive Cruise Control to give drivers a visual and audible warning when the gap to a vehicle ahead drops below a safe distance. The system also charges the brakes to ensure optimum braking performance.
Meanwhile, my fiance and I appreciated the Front and Rear Park Assist, especially in Session Road’s tight, super busy parking spaces (AKA by the sidewalk). It uses sensors to detect obstacles and provide audible warnings when the vehicle approaches obstructions at low speeds, giving greater confidence when parking, even when we had massive cargo at the back.
The new Ranger is now equipped with Electronic Stability Program with rollover mitigation and trailer sway control that helps keep the vehicle under control even in adverse conditions, like when the weather got bad when we were en route to BenCab Museum, the road to which was somewhat challenging. With the design of the truck complicating its center of gravity, this is particularly useful, along with the utilitarian roll bar that carries the weight of the vehicle, should there be risk of it turning over. Read on below for more on the truck’s design.
Other smart technologies on the Ranger that were particularly useful to us on the drive up to Tagaytay and especially Baguio were the Hill Launch Assist, which helped us confidently start off from a slope, whether in forward or reverse, especially since we made frequent stops around tourist spots in Baguio just to take a photo or buy pasalubong; Hill Descent Control, which uses the traction control system and helped us descend steep slopes at a constant speed; and Adaptive Load Control, which adjusts the Electronic Stability Control system based on vehicle load (since we were four adults on the drive up to and down from Baguio with four sets of baggage). It also has Emergency Brake Assistance, which provides additional pressure to the brake system to increase braking force when you apply the brakes quickly in an emergency situation.
As with any Ranger, the 2017 model is engineered and built to handle the most extreme terrains with ease. Thanks to a 28-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle, drivers in the Ranger can feel confident when taking on steep obstacles. We took advantage of this the most while navigating Baguio’s steep roads with sharp turns. Given its height, it’s easy to see when the slope is steep when heading down, though it needs a bit more power when going up inclines (we had the 4X2 model). It also has great turning radius, considering other trucks are not normally advisable for or are actually risky for sharp turns—but the Ranger handled our driving around Baguio effortlessly. The high ride definitely improved Jessie’s level of confidence on the long road, considering this was his first time to drive up to Baguio and on a vehicle he’s using for the first time at that.
Impressive off-road credentials are matched with on-road manners that improve on the current Ranger—which reportedly already set the standard in its class—thanks to fine-tuned suspension for additional comfort and even better handling.
The driving experience is further enhanced by an electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system, which provides precise steering with a natural and confident feel. With EPAS, steering is light and manageable for low-speed maneuvering, such as parking, and precise at higher speeds—with assistance varying as necessary based on speed, steering wheel angle, cornering forces, and acceleration or deceleration. And after back-to-back long drives from Manila to Tagaytay to Baguio and back, my fiancé really appreciated this convenience. By eliminating the power steering pump used in a traditional power-steering system, EPAS also results in a quieter vehicle and improves fuel efficiency by about three percent—also something both my fiance and my brother noted and liked about the new Ranger. Jessie noted that the Ranger had good highway diesel consumption.
Jessie and I on our drive back to Manila from Baguio
Tough and modern design
The Ranger takes the truck segment to the next level with an aggressive exterior, a premium, sporty interior, and capabilities that ensure it’s up for any adventure.
The Ranger looking sleek during our Tagaytay staycation
The tough Ranger kept up with all our activities during our Baguio road trip
The 2017 Ranger has a tough, sophisticated design. Flanked by projector head lamps, the bold trapezoidal grille has strong outboard nostrils. Pancho noted that the roll bar is handy, and along with the stock mags add to its sporty style.
As well as being more aggressively styled, the Ranger features design elements that are both premium and functional, sitting high on exclusive-machined 18-inch alloy mag wheels. Rectangular fog lamps and a unique sports hoop emphasize its unique nature and give it a more technical, refined appearance. The hooks allowed us to secure cargo at the back, like we did for our baggage going to Baguio and back. And I have to note those fog lamps helped us in the drive around Baguio, which was almost always foggy at the time of our visit.
The Ranger can even be a family vehicle, as there’s enough room for five adults, with room in the back for groceries, luggage, and tools. There’s also so much legroom.
Lots of leg room
We placed our luggage at the back when it was just Jessie and I in the Ranger
Inside, a strong horizontal beam spanning from driver to passenger door emphasizes the cabin’s width and houses a dual-TFT instrument cluster and air conditioning registers. Both Jessie and Pancho liked the Ranger’s sleek and luxurious interiors, with sleek leather upholstery, which is better than the 2012 model, as my brother noted.
We liked that there are cup holders both between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and at the back—something that’s absent in the 2012 Ranger, as noted by Pancho.
Cup holders on the back seat
Cup holders between the driver and passenger seats
And there are so many little compartments, which I personally like! Both the driver and the passenger also have illuminated visor mirrors—we just wish we can turn the light on and off, since it’s just on whenever you use the mirror, even during the day.
Visor mirror on the passenger side
Visor mirror on the driver’s side
Both my fiance and my brother also liked how you can control the side mirror from an inside button, allowing you to move it close or point it down to see even blind spots, i.e. rocks or other obstructions below that you won’t normally see from big vehicles.
We just wish there’s air-conditioning at the back. We also had an issue with how the glass fogs up outside, even when the climate control inside is on—this was particularly an inconvenience in foggy Baguio.
Power without sacrifice
The Ranger’s impressive power, capability, and payload and towing capacity are made possible with powerful and efficient engines paired with either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. Both engines available provide Ranger customers a combination of power and efficiency in all conditions, while being fun to drive.
Jessie noted that the sports mode option on the automatic transmission we test-drove assisted him in the steep uphill climb to Baguio. This setting is like manual, so you can put the transmission/gear up or down without following the computer box—like an override.
Ford’s 2.2-liter Duratorq four-cylinder TDCi diesel engine delivers significantly improved fuel efficiency and refinement while also providing great power, generating an improved 160 PS of power and 385 Nm of torque. Jessie and Pancho noted that it’s a potential workhorse.
Overall, Jessie finds the Ranger easy to drive. It runs like a car, and you don’t even feel it’s diesel. It’s as smooth as gas—with an acceleration you’d normally associate with gas, not diesel. Jessie also said the Ranger’s power is great, considering the sheer size of the vehicle. It’s perfect for adventure trips to destinations like Baguio. There was no effort to step on the gas to drive fast.
The Ranger XLT variants are available in Cool White, Black Mica, Aluminum Metallic, Metropolitan Gray, and exclusively in Aurora Blue. The Wildtrak—the flagship of the Ranger lineup—variants are available in Cool White, Black Mica, Aluminum Metallic, and exclusively in Pride Orange.
For more information regarding Ford, its products worldwide, or Ford Motor Credit Company, visit corporate.ford.com.