The refreshed Ford Ranger now comes with the re-designed and no less imposing front grille as well as headlamps, bumper and bonnet making its appearance bold and tough.
As pick-up trucks go, the American marque seems to have created a strong following in a local market dominated by Japanese marques in the likes of Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Nissan.
The Ranger, however, doesn’t just get away with good looks alone.
The vehicle is adept at both urban and off-road use, offering functionality, ease of use, and comfort.
In either 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre engine options, the facelift is boosted further with the use of shiny chrome in the grille, rear roll bar and rear bumper.
The range-topping 3.2 Wildtrak however, gets you one tougher looking truck thanks to its adoption of darker accents.
The most crucial of changes though, has been done in the cabin.
This new Ranger looks and feels just as good inside as it does outside.
Having spent most of our time in the range-topping Wildtrak, we have arrived at the conclusion that its offer of premium amenities makes it a true class winner here.
Other notable highlights include the plush partial leather seats with driver side electric seat adjustment, the new and intelligent eight-inch touchscreen infotainment unit featuring Ford’s SYNC II voice-enabled commands as well.
Things don’t feel too bad either in the mid-range 2.2XLT variant despite the absence of the plush leather seat covers and touchscreen.
All variants however, shine in the very low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
Also, the lower spec variants feature soft-touch materials lining the cabin and includes a number of practical storage bins and cubbies.
Also, this new Ranger drives as good as it looks.
The improved powertrain feels a lot better than its predecessor and Ford claims a 12% improvement in fuel efficiency.
But the important bit here is the increased power and torque for both the 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel units.
The 2.2-litre pushes out 160PS at 3,200rpm with a maximum torque of 385Nm from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm.
The 3.2-litre variant has a maximum output of 200PS at 3,000rpm and a maximum torque of 470Nm from 1,750rpm to 2,500rpm.
The six-speed automatic transmissions paired with either mills (also available in manual), operates very smoothly.
The new electric power steering has made the Ranger much easier to drive on a daily basis as it is both lighter and more precise.
Though it has the typical pick-up truck suspension setup of high-travel double-wishbones up front and leaf springs in the rear, the dampers felt sublimely soft as it soaked up bumps and road imperfections effortlessly.
And that comes without compromising too much on its off-road usability – a trait we discovered while en route to the Kinabalu National Park across both gravel paths and asphalt roads during the two-day press drive across Sabah.
No doubt, the Ranger is highly capable when taken off-the-beaten-path.
Engaging its four-wheel-drive modes is as easy as turning a knob.
And its also more than competent when you are facing a steep near-30-degree hill covered in dirt, gravel or mud. Crossing a rocky river stream?
The Ranger’s wading water levels is up to 800mm; again no issues here.
Much of these capabilities are fuelled by features like the Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and Roll Over Mitigation that is primed across all variants.
The 3.2 Wildtrak has added more advanced active and passive safety features such as Lane Departure Warning and Assist, Forward Alert and Collision Mitigation system, as well as a Distance Indication Alert.
Having tested all three features on the road back to Kota Kinabalu, we can safely report that the 3.2 Wildtrak is the safest pickup truck money can buy in our market currently.
In a nutshell, the new Ford Ranger has properly defended its title as the segment’s best.
It offers better on-road drivability and comfort, exceptional off-road capability, as well as being safer and smarter.
The new Ranger starts from RM91,588 for the base Ranger 2.2XL MT; RM112,038 for the Ranger 2.2XLT AT, and RM121,588 for the Ranger 3.2XLT AT.
The Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak commands a starting figure of RM139,838.
It also comes with a three year or 100,000km manufacturer warranty.