Straight to the point, I am concerned the new Ranger, and by extension, the new Everest, have an issue with the ten-speed gearbox when towing which could lead to a failure or longevity issues. In testing, I struggled to keep the indicated gearbox temperature below the upper limit of what the dash suggests is too hot.
Towing a moderate load, Cub C16 caravan, I saw gearbox temperatures reach levels on the dash display that caused enough concern to have me pull up and wait for it to come down. Before you suggest I was heavy-footed, which I admit, I often am, I noticed it early in testing and took it very seriously and changed my driving style to see if I could manage what I was seeing on the display. I kept it from hitting its peak, marked by a colour change to red from orange. But I did enter into the orange – which is the top 20 per cent of the display range – at least once, giving me my concerns.
WHAT'S GOING ON?
There is a lot of information available on the internet about recalls and owner-raised issues as well as a few articles from leading 4X4 mastheads on the ten-speed gearbox used in the previous generation Ranger that carried over to the new gen. higher-spec models of the new pairing. This gearbox is carried over from the last of the previous generation Ranger and is currently fitted to the American F150.
My fear is the damage heat can do to the oil inside the gearbox as well its innards. As mentioned in John Hughes’ excellent feature on controlling the temperature in vehicles, excessive heat has the possibility of causing irreparable damage and should be avoided.
SO WHAT DID I SEE AND WHAT COULD IT BE?
The gearbox temperature display is not on by default, you have to cycle through the easy-to-use systems to find it (you will also find data on fuel efficiency, oil levels and health among a lot more). Once displayed, it sits neatly on the right of the driver's main display which is easy to read. When you are driving normally, it is a blue to orange to red scale and when in Tow Haul Mode, it is a light yellow to orange to red.
The end result of the testing did not leave us stranded and I kept the gearbox temperatures out of the red, but its ease to reach near the top end of the scale had me reach out to Ford Australis for comment. To date, I have not heard back.
THE GOOD? IS THERE ANY?
There is a lot, honestly. The new Ranger Sport is seriously comfortable with electrically adjustable seating and steering wheel position. The sound deadening inside is second to none in the fiercely competitive dual-cab ute market and the creature comforts like wireless charging and CarPlay as well as the thumping stereo are again, are as good as they get.
And then there is the optional V6 engine which at only 3L pushes out more oomph than any competitor with 184kw and 600Nm of torque. The torque is close to that of the LC300 (700Nm) and a world away from two of our favourites, the D-MAX and MU-X sisters with their lowly 450Nm.
The torque aside, the character of the engine is also a standout. Its smoothness betters even the 3L V6 found in the Amorak, an engine that resides inside plenty of luxury cars from VW’s sister brand Audi and one that always impressed me. The diesel V6 in the Ranger is petrol-engine smooth and exceptionally quiet, making the driving experience rather un ute-like, and serene. It was this that really drew me to get a review done on the Ranger Sport V6.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Sport V6 has a kerb weight of 2,39946kg and a GVM of 3,350280kg giving it a calculated max Payload of 95134kg. That is good, but what really stands out is the 6400kg GCM.
Having a high GCM (a 2022 HiLux SR5’s limit is 5850kg and an Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain’s GCM is 6000kg) means the Ranger Sport has a usable payload when towing at its maximum Braked Tow Capacity of 3500kg, even if towing with its 350kg maximum Ball Weight.
However, the keen-eyed will see that the Ranger Sport V6 cannot tow its max. Braked Capacity when at its GVM, the two combined go over the GCM by 380kg (3,500kg + 3280kg = 6780kg). This means that you cannot take full advantage of the 934kg Payload, it is reduced to 301kg or not quite enough for a small family; the Sport V6 has the caring capacity for a couple of mates and some gear, when fully loaded. If towing at 3500kg ATM, you will likely need to rely on the van's payload to carry some gear, but the Sport V6 is ahead of others as you’ll see in the attached table. The other key spec for us towing is the fuel range which is a by-product of fuel capacity and efficiency.
We tested the Sport V6 with a single-axle Cub C16 caravan that weighed around 2100kg and was 2.2m wide and 3m tall. Our blacktop driving was from Sydney’s inner-west to Capertee return (about 400km once detours are included) and our dirt and off-road driving were within Turon Gates and its surrounds totalling another approx. 150km.
On the highway, we saw between 16 and 18 litres per 100km travelled, which is pretty good considering the drive up and through the Blue Mountains can sap economy severely. Off-road we saw around 19 and 20 litres per 100km travelled, again, I think this is reasonable considering the terrain and stop-start nature of filming and photography.
With the standard 80L fuel tank, you should see as much as 500km of towing with a similar van but there is more to be had if you dip into the factory-backed options list from ARB.
Our test ute didn't have any of ARB’s factory-backed options added but the first one I would tick is the 140L upgraded fuel tank which should allow you to get around 850km towing a similar van. It will eat into your GVM so bear that in mind or ask about a suspension upgrade to increase that too - this will likely become a dealer-fitted option any day now.
GVM increase notwithstanding, ARB’s close relationship with Ford makes for a deep options list. The ever-popular Summit Bar will likely grace most Rangers and you can add an under-bonnet auxiliary battery set-up, snorkel, branded mud mats, and an almost endless list of roof-mounted racks and trays.
The tray of the new Ranger will take a Euro pallet between the wheel arches
All Ranger models come with a drawbar and 50mm tow ball but not all come with a brake controller which is optional on lower-spec models. With the Sport V6, the best option is to get it as part of the Touring Pack bundle that includes the controller, a 360-degree camera, puddle lamps, and zone lighting. There is more to the towing tech of the Ranger Sport, and a lot of it is driven around safety and ease of use.
SAFETY AND TOWING TECH
The day we ended our review of the Ranger Sport V6, it was awarded a maximum 5-star ANCAP rating, a great result, and no doubt partly down to the swathes of active tech built into the new platform.
The key ones are there in emergency braking, lane departure control, and systems to help bring the car to a stop and alert other drivers if you are involved in an incident. Other tech that I appreciate is the 360-degree camera (part of the Touring Pack bundle) which comes in handy in different scenarios, including activating the front camera in low range and when setting off, and showing your full surrounds when in reverse. Hill decent control is standard as is hill start assist, vehicle ESC and a trailer sway control system, and in the Sport V6, tyre pressure monitoring and a locking rear differential.
Aside from the safety tech, Ford has also taken a leaf from US truck brands in including a Tow Haul Mode that adjusts some parameters in the transmission to hold a gear longer and at higher rpm. It also changes the display in front of the driver, showing more detail that makes all the difference when towing.
VALUE AND COMPETITION
As the newest ute on the market and one with all the latest gizmos and mod-cons, it is forgivable to see a price rise for the Sport V6, but it still needs to stay within cooey of its main rival, the Toyota HiLux.
A Sport V6, in black, starts from $75,026 drive away. That is for a new vehicle ordered from Ford with around six months' wait on delivery. Should you want one immediately, there are some demonstrators advertised at $10,000 more excluding government charges. To compare apples, a new D-MAX X-Terrain which also has the same 5-star ANCAP rating along with a plethora of safety gear, but which has a lower GCM and power and torque figures, starts at $65,640 and the top-spec HiLux Rogue starts at $76,986 and the popular SR5 at $69,686. These last two rivals both have a maximum 3500kg Braked Tow Capacity but neither come close to having as much usable payload as the new Ranger.
I will admit, the Sport V6 is in a league of its own in power, internal space and technology compared to the HiLux which is now starting to show its age, and although the top-spec D-MAX matches the Sport V6 for safety and technology, it’s 3L engine is becoming outmoded.
On paper the Ranger Sport V6 is a stellar tow vehicle with useable capacities and plenty of power, but in my testing, I am left concerned with the transmission fitted. The clouds were there before I got my chance to try it with its dubious history in the previous generation and issues abroad.
I was genuinely expecting good things and hoping for the best and I can see a great vehicle is there. But with the Sport V6 being such a new model, I would be waiting until other buyers have put it through its paces to see if there is an underlying issue, as I saw, before I’d rely on one to take a heavy caravan any great distance.
Hits and Misses
- High GCM
- Good Payload
- Excellent Comforts
- Gearbox Concerns
Ford Ranger Sport V6 Ratings
Value for money
Over $75,000 for a ute feels crazy though it is more than utilitarian
It has the power and torque but is let down by the gearbox
The high-definition cameras are great as is the Trailer Light Check mode
The quietest ute I’ve been in with good seats and stereo
Accessibility of Spare Parts
Easily one of the main reasons to buy Australia’s most popular ute is support
Pretty good both on (16-18L/100km) and off road (19-20L/100km)
With all the tech, this is a ute you can hitch and use solo easily
It is now the best in class for power and torque
The added towing tech is fantastic to see in a main-stream ute as is all the safety gear
If you do not see another Next-Gen Ranger on the road today, I’d be shocked, but they are popular for the right reasons
Ford Ranger Sport V6 Specs
Weights and measures
|Ground clearance (at kerb weight)||234mm|
|Gross Vehicle Mass||3,280kg|
|Gross Combined Mass||6,400kg|
|Towing capacity unbraked/braked||3,500/750kg|
|Tow ball (max)||350kg|
|Engine||3L V6 turbocharged diesel|
|Transmission||Ten-speed automatic with two-speed 4WD transfer case|
|Power||184kW at 3,250rpm|
|Torque||600Nm from 1750rpm|
|Suspension||Front Independent, coils, sway bar Rear Multi-link solid axle|
|Brakes||Front and rear vented discs|
|Wheels||18” alloy with 255/65 R18 All-Season tyres|
|Warranty||5 Years/Unlimited Kilometres|
Ford Ranger Sport V6 price from $75,026
Supplied by Ford
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