Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Impressing with connectivity

Published:Sunday | September 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMKareem Latouche
1
2
3
4
5

Our pick-up market is a demanding one as Jamaican roads are riddled with rocky and uneven surfaces. Not to mention the fleet operators who demand reliability when loading their vehicles with cement and workmen before heading to a construction sight. The Ranger seems to be aware of all this as the Limited Edition tries to cover all the basics while incorporating technology in a unique way. The vehicle comes in three trim levels, starting with the base model, which is the XLT. Then there is the Limited version, and the highest spec model is the Wildtrak.

The exterior definitely gets some bonus points for capturing the rugged look that buyers in this class demands. The edges on the side panels are sharp, with very little pronouncement, especially over the wheel arch, which gives the vehicle somewhat of a slender look. All this converges in a bold three-bar front grille, which is flanked by two rectangular-type sleek headlamps that are in keeping with the overall design trends.

On the five-foot-long cargo box are chrome rail bars that give it a look like it is ready for work. Another noteworthy addition are 17" tyres that come with some robust stock wheels, which have some deep grooves that handle themselves very well off road.

 

Interior of connectivity

 

With 11 inches of ground clearance, Ford added a step rail for easier access to the interior of the vehicle. Once on the inside, it is laid out in a logical manner, which makes it easy to function off muscle memory. The first thing that grabbed my attention were the two USB ports that can be used to both charge and connect your cell phone to the Ford SYNC system.

This is surely one of the most integrated systems as it read the music from my phone and even showed the metadata information like the album artwork. There was even a prompt to activate Android Auto, which, sadly, is not available here.

Not all is rosy though. I do feel like some of the plastic, like the internal door handle, might not age well. Nonetheless, the biggest plus about this vehicle is how Ford integrates the technology in a seamless manner that makes the driver's life easier.

The steering-mounted controls can be used to navigate the two digital screens that are on either side of the speedometer. The one on the left mostly displays multimedia content while the one on the right shows engine-related information, for example, gas-mileage relation.

Unlike many other vehicles, the headlight-control switches are not on the steering column. Rather, they are to the lower right of the steering. This does take a little getting used to, but I simply left the headlight control on auto and allowed the sensors to turn them on or off. There is also the option of adjusting the brightness of interior lighting.

 

Driving with assistance

 

The vehicle is equipped with sensors galore that work impressively well with things like the rear camera and the infotainment screen. There were many times when I was navigating my way out of a parking lot, and once it was in reverse, it would automatically lower the music and show a silhouette of the vehicle along with a proximity indicator.

This was very useful given the large size of the vehicle. It's something from which every pick-up can learn a lesson. There was also an instant when I was on a steep hill in a community in Gordon Town, and I had to stop to read a sign. I forgot to pull up the handbrake. However, the hill-start assist feature had been activated and held the brake as I removed my foot from the accelerator pedal for a short while.

I found this to be a very intuitive feature, given the fact that these vehicles usually weigh over 7,000 pounds unladen. This means that they always have the to tendency to roll back when on an incline, and this can become hazardous when a vehicle is behind it.

While many of its competitors opt for the smaller size 2.2-litre turbo engine, the 3.2-litre diesel engine provides more than adequate power to haul it around. What is most welcoming is that it does this in a fuel-efficient way as the large 80-litre gas tank can easily take someone on a round trip from St Thomas to Westmoreland.

As for acceleration, it comes on readily and confidently, which also translates to off-road activities.

The circular knob to the right of the gear lever controls the four-wheel drive modes, which allow the vehicle to manage the most challenging terrain in a confident manner. Surprisingly, its approaching angle of 28 degrees is steeper than the departure angle of 25 degrees, which should give drivers the confidence they need to go over deep and rocky surfaces.

While top-ranking pick-ups like the Toyota Hilux focuses heavily on utilitarianism, the Ranger is aiming to find a synergy between technology and mechanical performance.

Cost of tested model, Ranger Limited, $7.8m.

Vehicle was provided courtesy of Kingston Industrial Garage Ltd, 923-6479, sales@kigjamaica.com

- For comments and suggestions email yl.jamaica@gmail.com.