New 2015 Ford Ranger – Safety First

Safety first for fresh Ford Ranger

Ute-first safety technology and electric steering for facelifted Ford workhorse arriving soon

The facelifted Ford Ranger due to go on sale Down Under in the third quarter of 2015 will introduce a raft of first-in-class safety features including radar cruise control, drowsy driver warning system and lane departure warning with active lane keeping assistance.

The mid-life makeover of the popular Ranger ute will also deliver fresh styling inside and out and fuel-efficient electric steering, borrowing design cues as well as high-tech features from the new seven-seat Everest SUV.

The updated 2015 Ranger makes its world debut at this week’s 36th Bangkok International Motor Show, alongside the Australian-developed, ute-based Everest SUV, which are both due to go on sale in Australia in the third quarter of this year.

The Ranger’s revised front end including a rugged new grille design, slimline headlights, bolder bonnet and “outboard nostrils”, are designed to deliver a more modern, aggressive appearance.

Inside, there’s a sharp new dash design straight out of the forthcoming Everest, including classy new finishes such as gloss highlights along with Ford’s latest SYNC 2 voice-controlled infotainment system with 8.0-inch colour touch-screen.

There’s also a new dual-TFT instrument cluster that, according to Ford “provides drivers with information about the vehicle, as well as entertainment, navigation and climate-control details at a glance”.

But it’s the raft of Australian ute-first safety features such as radar based cruise control, which can automatically accelerate and brake the vehicle according to traffic conditions, that should set the Ranger apart from major rivals including the Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara, all of which will be replaced by new models this year but aren’t expected to include similar technology.

The hi-tech driver aids available on the new Ranger include Driver Impairment Monitor, which uses a forward facing camera and on-board sensors to alert the driver if the vehicle drifts off course; Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert, which regulates the distance from the vehicle in front and alerts the driver if unsafe; and Lane Keeping Alert and Lane Keeping Aid, which will vibrate the steering wheel or even steer the ute back into its lane if necessary.

The safety suite also extends to a reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring, hill launch assist, hill descent control, adaptive load control, trailer sway control and front and rear parking sensors, making the Ranger one of the safest and most progressive light commercial vehicles on the market.

While the mid-life update won’t include other Everest features such as automated parking, blind spot monitoring, auto-dipping high-beam headlights, and a curve control system, it’s likely many of these technologies will be adopted on future versions of the Ranger along with other Ford Australia models.

Ford’s advanced SYNC 2 infotainment system, which has already been rolled out on the Ford Falcon, Territory and Everest, brings enhanced connectivity and multi-media functionality along with improved recognition software. For example, you can say “I’m hungry” and the sat-nav will search for nearby restaurants.

While continuing to offer an advanced dual-range transfer case and electronic rear diff lock, Ranger 4×4 variants will miss out on the Land Rover-style, Terrain Management System (TMD) to be available in the Everest, which offers four dial-operated modes to cope with varying terrain.

But the Ranger’s two turbo-diesel engines have been tweaked to deliver improvements in fuel economy, performance and overall refinement.

While output remains at 147kW/470Nm, Ford says upgrades to the 3.2-litre Duratorq five-cylinder engine including an updated exhaust gas recirculation system help increase fuel economy by as much as 18 per cent.

The 2.2-litre Duratorq four-cylinder engine will have 8kW more power and 10Nm more torque (now 188kW and 385Nm), while also being more refined and economical.

Also reducing fuel use by up to 3.5 per cent is new idle-stop technology, which shuts off the engine when the vehicle is idling.

Another segment first for the Ranger will be electric power-assisted steering, which is also fitted to the Everest. As well as cutting fuel consumption by another three percent, Ford says the speed-sensitive system provides “precise steering with a natural and confidant feel”, and reduces noise levels by eliminating the power steering pump.

The updated Ranger misses out on the Everest’s whizz-bang noise cancelling technology, but still promises to be quieter thanks to “advanced sound-deadening materials and improved insulation”.

Already lauded for its ride/handling compromise, the Ranger’s suspension has been further tuned “for improved ride comfort and handling”, says Ford.

Ford Australia is yet to announce which of the new technologies will be available as standard or options across the Ranger line-up, or whether pricing across the range will change as a result of the new features.

However, the move upmarket shouldn’t hurt the Ranger’s quest to become the top-selling ute in Australia. Introduced in 2011, the PK Ranger is on a sales roll Down Under, and closing fast on the best-selling HiLux.

It’s also currently the most popular Blue Oval badged vehicle in Australia, with approximately one in every three Fords being a Ranger.

Source: CarPoint.com.au
by Chris Fincham
23rd March 2015