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Off-Road Test: Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT AT

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Words and pictures by Grant Spolander

Br’UTE Force
The double-cab sector has shaken up the recreational vehicle category. Bakkies are no longer just a compromise between load and people carriers – thanks to bigger cabins and more thoughtful ergonomics they’re now serious competitors to large family sedans. The new Ford Ranger is one of the latest double-cabs to debut a wide-bodied cabin, and although it was late to the game, this entrant’s a potential game changer.

So the new Ford Ranger is finally here. We’re a little behind the pack with this road test and by now much of the hype surrounding this bakkie has died down, but I’m still as amped as ever. You see, the outgoing model held a special place in my heart. We previously had a long-term Ranger 3.0 TDCi of which I was very fond, particularly for its brawny engine which I rated as being the best in the business at that time.
Of course, the downside to that model was its narrow proportions and slightly cramped cabin, especially when compared to its bigger counterparts, the Hilux and Navara, and more recently, the Amarok. What’s more, the outgoing Ranger was a little disappointing when it came to fit and finish, and materials used.
Well, the new Ranger changes everything. It’s brand new so it shares no similarities with its predecessor, not even the chassis.
Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT AT
INTERIOR
Space. There’s heaps of it. Above your head, in front of your knees, next to your shoulders. Even down by your feet. This is a big cabin. Not quite as large as the Amarok’s, but bigger than the Hilux’s. To put it another way, there’s enough shoulder room for two adults and a young teen to sit side by side in relative comfort on the second row of seats…