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Ford Ranger Review: This Could End Toyota’s Ute Dominance

The next-gen Ford Ranger's unique approach to modification support is a total game-changer.

Ford Ranger Review: This Could End Toyota’s Ute Dominance

The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux have been fighting it out for the title of Australia’s best-selling car for years – but Ford’s latest update to their tough ute should have Toyota very, very nervous.

Aussies love utes. Previously the domain of tradies and farmers, these days utes have become the default family car. Big dual-cab utes like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux dominate Australian roads (and monthly sales figures) because they can kind of do everything: carry huge loads, ferry about a whole family in comfort, and rather crucially, perform well off-road.

In fact, the only thing Aussies love more than utes is modifying their utes, for both work and play. Few Aussies leave their utes stock. Toolboxes, bullbars, lift kits, big tyres, winches, radios, spotlights… The modification scene for modern utes is huge and has only grown over the last two years during COVID.

Lockdowns, border closures and the dearth of international travel have inspired (or forced, depending on which way you look at it) us to explore our own backyards – which has frequently meant travelling behind the wheel of a specially modified dual-cab ute with four-wheel drive. And Ford Australia has been paying close attention to that.

We had the chance to drive the new second-generation T6 Ranger late last week, and it’s an impressive car for many reasons.

The highlight for many buyers will be the new 3.0L ‘Power Stroke’ V6 turbo-diesel engine option that makes 184kW and a hefty 600Nm of torque – or fun touches like the tray step behind the rear wheels for easy tray access – but for us, the real story behind the new Ranger is the modification support.

A 2022 Ford Ranger fitted with some of ARB’s new accessories at the vehicle’s Australian media launch.

Ford Ranger Accessories

Ahead of the vehicle’s launch, Ford has worked with ARB, arguably the leading brand in the off-road accessory space, to produce and co-engineer a range of 160+ ARB “Ford Licensed Accessories”, including bullbars, side steps, tradie trays and canopies.

Not only do these parts look great and function well – they’ve got a real ‘OEM+’ vibe to them, which is because that’s essentially what they are – they’re all covered by Ford’s 5-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and can be purchased and fitted at Ford dealerships.

That is a total game-changer. The first thing most Aussies do when they get a new ute delivered is to go off and modify it, so the fact that straight out the gate, there are all these parts ready for the car that will fit perfectly and even work with all your car’s safety tech is a godsend for customers. Plus, they’re covered by your car’s factory warranty instead of the normal ARB 18-month warranty.

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The best part is that the installation of these parts is ‘baked in’ to the delivery time of your new Ranger. Waiting times for parts and installation at ARB workshops in Australia right now already extend well beyond a year in some cases. Now, Ford is letting you ‘jump the queue’ to a degree (although waiting lists for new Ranger deliveries are already quite long…)

If you don’t want to have your ARB parts installed at the dealer or by ARB, Ford has even considered modification support when designing the car, meaning there are fewer panels to drill through or bumpers you have to cut out to install popular mods. There’s even a dedicated space under the bonnet for a second battery to run accessories like fridges off of. Ford has really thought of everything.

Never fear: the new Ranger is plenty capable even in stock form.

We haven’t really ever seen this level of manufacturer support for modification in Australia before. It speaks to the value of Australian ingenuity: it’s only because Ford designed, engineered and tested the new Ranger here that they were able to get this sort of insight into their customers.

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Toyota doesn’t have anything like this… And that’s before we start talking about other features of the new Ford Ranger, which totally blow the Hilux out of the water.

The Blue Oval’s infotainment systems have long been miles ahead of Toyota’s, and now the Ranger has a huge 12-inch centrally-mounted screen. The interior fit and finish is better and more luxurious than the Hilux. The Ranger even looks better than the Hilux, thanks to its bold new “c-clamp” grille.

Another big selling point is its integrated trailer braking system, which is ideal for both tradies and caravanners alike. The electrical system is intuitive and integrates with the car’s blind spot warning system, boasts 10 customisable trailer profiles and even a light-check mode that cycles through your indicators, brake lights, reversing lights and so on, which takes all the guesswork out.

You can fit a Euro pallet in the back, there are special integrated tie-down points for strapping down loads, there are special front and rear cameras for you to check your departure angles, and plenty of off-road driving modes that take the guesswork out of 4x4ing… There are so many cool features in the new Ranger, we could go on for days.

But it’s the modification support that’s really quite unique, and we predict it’ll be the biggest selling point for Aussies. It’ll be the tipping point that will see even rusted-on Toyota fans consider swapping to a Ford.

While you can get the new Ranger in ‘tradie spec’ with steelies and basic fabric seats, like the last gen, most customers will be opting for a kitted-out Wildtrak model like this one.

Ford Ranger vs Toyota Hilux

When it comes to the sales war between Ford and Toyota, to an extent, Toyota has been coasting on its reputation for reliability above all else. Most revheads are familiar with Top Gear’s famous “indestructible Hilux,” for example. Just as the Toyota Corolla is the archetypal car for many motorists, the Hilux is the archetypal ute.

That’s particularly funny in the context of Toyota’s rivalry with Ford, as Ford actually invented the ute. In 1932, Ford Australia was motivated to produce a “coupé utility” after receiving a letter from a farmer’s wife asking for “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays.”

It’s also hard to understand when the new Ranger is just so much better than basically any other similar vehicle Toyota is making currently, from quality to performance to tech – and with sharper pricing, too. Comparing the fit and finish of the new Ranger to the new Land Cruiser, for instance, really embarrasses the latter.

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Yes, it’s hard to deny that in the Outback, Toyota is king. Rural parts availability for Toyotas is just leagues ahead of anything any other manufacturer can offer. Ford definitely has an uphill battle if they ever want to supplant Toyota in that regard, and we’re not sure any brand can.

But Ford’s brilliant approach to modification support is a real point of difference, and might just be enough to finally tip the balance in Ford’s favour.

2022 Ford Ranger pricing

Trim LevelEnginePrice (AUD, before on-road costs)
XL 4×2 Single Cab Chassis2.0L single turbo
(diesel, 125kW/405Nm, 6-speed auto)
XL 4×2 Super Cab Chassis2.0L single turbo$38,430
XL 4×2 Double Cab Chassis2.0L single turbo$40,430
XL 4×2 Double Pick-Up2.0L single turbo$42,330
XL 4×4 Single Cab Chassis2.0L bi-turbo
(diesel, 154kW/500Nm, 10-speed auto)
XL 4×4 Super Cab Chassis2.0L bi-turbo$49,530
XL 4×4 Super Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$51,430
XL 4×4 Double Cab Chassis2.0L single turbo$48,030
2.0L bi-turbo$51,530
XL 4×4 Double Pick-Up2.0L single turbo$49,930
2.0L bi-turbo$53,430
XLS 4×2 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$46,730
XLS 4×4 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$54,330
XLT 4×2 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$53,990
XLT 4×4 Super Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$59,190
XLT 4×4 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$61,190
XLT 4×4 Double Cab Chassis3.0L V6 turbo
(diesel, 184kW/600Nm, 10-speed auto)
XLT 4×4 Double Pick-Up3.0L V6 turbo$64,190
Sport 4×4 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$63,690
3.0L V6 turbo$66,690
Wildtrak 4×4 Double Pick-Up2.0L bi-turbo$67,190
3.0L V6 turbo$70,190
Raptor 4×4 Double Pick-Up3.0L V6 EcoBoost twin-turbo
(petrol, 292kW/583Nm, 10-speed auto)

Find out more about the next-gen Ford Ranger at Ford’s online showroom here.

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