Ford does lucrative business selling luxury pickups at home in the US, and has unsurprisingly decided to apply this blueprint to Australia with a new flagship version of the Ranger.
The Ranger Platinum sits a rung above the Wildtrak, tapping into booming demand – and often extended wait times – for high-end load-luggers. It also happens to offer the looks and features list of a full-size American pickup without the bulk or accompanying six-figure price tag.
Coming standard with the V6 diesel engine and full-time 4WD, the Platinum adds features not necessarily associated with work utes: things like like Matrix LED headlights, quilted leather seats, a better sound system, brash 20-inch wheels, and chrome-look trims to give it a more sophisticated look.
Does it truly make sense as a work-capable second family vehicle over an equivalent SUV – for instance the Everest Platinum that shares the same platform and drivetrain?
The Ranger Platinum costs $78,190 before on-road costs, which equates to between $84,000 and $87,000 drive-away depending on your state of residence.
It sits between the Ranger Wildtrak and high-performance Ranger Raptor in the pecking order, and is the most expensive diesel variant to date.
High-end Ranger prices:
- Ranger Sport V6: $68,890
- Ranger Wildtrak V6: $72,390
- Ranger Platinum V6: $78,190
- Ranger Raptor: $87,990
All prices exclude on-road costs
It does need to be pointed out here that there are ongoing wait times expected on all high-end Rangers, unless a dealer has a cancelled order on its hands, and this situation is leading to dealer and private buyer markups (which I would call gouging) – there are already three in the classifieds advertised for $100k-plus when last I checked…
What are its competitors? The most obvious is the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura ($79,990) that uses the Ford’s running gear and platform, but brings its own distinctive interior and exterior designs – and even bigger 21-inch rims.
Then there’s the Toyota HiLux Rogue ($70,760) or GR Sport ($73,990). But the most cross-shopped will in all probability be the seven-seater Ford Everest Platinum ($78,530) – the SUV version of the Ranger.
Ford has certainly gone to some effort to make the Platinum’s interior feel a little more sophisticated than the class norm.
It unlocks for you as you approach so long as the key fob is in your pocket, and at night the power-folding side mirrors project puddle lamps onto the ground.
The quilted leather seats look great and come with heating and ventilation, and are power-adjustable for both front occupants. There’s also a driver’s memory preset function.
Soft touchpoints are used on the door trims and parts of the dash, while contrast stitching, ambient night-light piping, black headlining, and wood-look inserts all add a dose of premium-ness.
Being a work truck underneath, there are still some cheaper and harder plastics and a few examples of iffy fit-and-finish – around the steering column for instance.
There’s also an argument to be mounted that the Amarok Aventura with its different screen software design and centre stack and its Savona leather seats makes a slightly more compelling case from a premium feel perspective.
The Platinum is largely well-thought-out, with telescoping wheel adjustment and good storage options including two stacked lidded gloveboxes, a rubberised wireless charging pad, and cupholders in the tunnel, and edges of the dash.
There’s also an auxiliary switch bank in the roof and a USB in the rear-view mirror for a dashcam.
Behind the wheel is a version of the Ranger Raptor’s 12.4-inch fully digital instrument cluster in place of the Wildtrak’s 8.0-inch unit, which means a very slick animated starting sequence and various view modes.
Indeed when it comes to interior technology nothing in the ute market can compete. The 12.0-inch portrait touchscreen has connected sat-nav and wireless phone mirroring (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) that can take up most of the available screen real estate, plus an enhanced 10-speaker sound system.
Ford has rolled out an update for the Ranger’s multimedia system with a new look. Ford says “certain icons have a new look designed to be more familiar to users at a glance. The ‘Settings’ and ‘Controls’ menus have also been consolidated into a central ‘Controls’ section following customer feedback.
“One major functionality addition is the Rear Camera On-Demand View, which allows customers to view the rear camera while driving at speeds of up to 10km/h, and Hitch View which gives a direct top-down perspective of the tow ball – particularly useful when setting off from a standstill while towing.”
While we’ve found instances of early build Rangers with the big screen showing signs of glitching out on us, this Platinum’s screen was rapid and trouble-free throughout. Zero dramas.
While most functions including climate controls and seat temperatures can be operated via screen, Ford has retained buttons for the audio volume, temperature controls and fan speeds – good if you’ve gotten your hands dirty.
Features you won’t find in other utes include conversational voice controls via a choice of keyword prompts such as “Hello Ford” to adjust the temperature or find a route; zone lighting in the tub and side of the vehicle controlled via the screen; and an off-road menu including helpful surround-view cameras to aid visibility.
The modem also connects to the FordPass app via a VIN and onboard verification link, meaning you can use your phone to remotely lock, unlock and start the vehicle; locate it; and conduct an exterior trailer-light check sequence (indicators and brake lights). All very clever little features.
While Ford pitches the Ranger Platinum as a great family vehicle, the Everest naturally does a better job. Yet there’s room for two big adults or three kids in the back row – about on a par with the D-Max and BT-50 – even though the backrests are quite upright. The seat base flips up if you need more storage, and there are rear air vents an USB ports.
As with all Ranger dual-cabs the back seats are covered by full-length curtain airbags and include child-proof rear door locks, outboard top-tether and ISOFIX points.
If the Ranger Platinum has one real party trick above all others it’s surely the locking and illuminated tub.
Wildtrak features that carry over include the powered roller shutter controllable via the key fob, a cargo management system with moving attachment points, a drop-in bedliner, and clamping mounts in the tailgate.
It also includes a Platinum-specific pneumatically-damped tailgate and Ford’s awesome Flexible Racking System: comprising a sports bar that slides along the tub’s side rims and has a flip-up rack on top, paired with roof rails with fold-out cross bars.
It means you can store long items without needing the have bespoke racking, as demonstrated. Note: the 3.6m treated pine beam from my shed is used for illustrative purposes only – obviously it would be tied down if we went for a drive with it!
These sorts of clever touches – app connectivity, box steps, cargo management solutions – all set the Ranger apart from the pack, and shows a serious degree of market research was applied.
The Platinum comes standard with the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel with 184kW at 3250rpm and 600Nm at 1750-2250rpm, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
It comes with full-time 4WD and six different terrain-specific driving modes.
This leaves all competitors bar the Amarok, and the bigger American Rams and Chevys, in the dust.
The Ranger’s Australian development really shows in the way it drives. Despite rolling on 20-inch wheels and lowish-profile tyres it rides nicely over pockmarked rural roads even ungraded gravel, making it a comfy grand tourer.
It’s a ladder-frame work truck with a rigid rear axle and leaf springs, so it’s never going to handle with the alacrity of a crossover, but its lightweight electric power steering and predictable unladen handling make it a breeze to drive.
The plethora of driver-assist aids such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-centring with steering inputs that worked well, and adaptive cruise control, all do their part to make this a very accessible piece of machinery.
The V6 diesel is a ripper too, with way more punch than its four-cylinder competitors which we ascertained by benchmarking it on a closed circuit with a resistance trailer in our recent ute megatest.
Expect a 0-100km/h time of around 8.9 seconds and an 80-120km/h (theoretical) overtaking speed of 6.7s based on our closed-circuit Ranger V6 performance testing.
It has a smooth stop/start system, a well-tuned 10-speed automatic with shift-by-wire, and various drive modes that adjust traction controls and throttle sensitivity to suit. There’s a bit of familiar diesel rattle and exhaust smell, but it’s hardly tractor-like.
That said I do wonder if Ford missed a trick not offering the (available) 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol four with 222kW of power, and higher-revving and quieter characteristics perhaps suited to a lifestyle pickup like this. Volkswagen took it for the Amarok Aventura, giving it ownership of a potential market niche.
In terms of loads and capacities, the Platinum is rated to tow up to 3500kg (braked) like other Rangers. Its payload based on GVM (3300kg) minus kerb weight (2388kg) is 912kg, versus 966kg for the Wildtrak.
Ford claims combined-cycle fuel efficiency of 8.4 litres per 100km, but my real-world average readout was 10.1L/100km. It has an 80-litre fuel tank, suggesting a roughly 800km range unless you’re towing.
On the tarmac you can drive it in fuel-saving 2H rear-wheel drive, decoupling the front axle, or in full-time variable 4WD for slippery surfaces. Then there’s conventional 50:50 torque-split 4H and a low-range for harder off-road tasks, ably supported by a surround-view camera and locking rear diff.
If you do plan on going off the beaten path though, some all-terrain tyres on smaller wheels would make sense. If you’re keen on mud-plugging, we’d probably buy the Wildtrak or special-edition Wildtrak X.
For the extra $5800 over a Wildtrak, the Ranger Platinum adds the following:
- Chrome trims including grille
- ‘Platinum’ badging
- 20-inch wheels, all-season tyres and full-size spare
- Matrix LED headlights with auto dynamic levelling
- Black roof (body colour a no-cost option)
- Roof rails with folding roof racks
- Damped (gas strut) tailgate
- Flexible rack system for the tub
- Equinox Bronze paint option
- 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster
- Quilted leather-accented seat trim
- Heated, ventilated and powered front seats
- Driver’s memory seats
- Heated Steering Wheel
- B&O 10-speaker sound system upgrade
- Auxiliary switch bank in roof
- Accent stitching and decorative finishes
Features shared with the Wildtrak include:
- LED daytime running lights and tail lights
- Exterior and tub zone lighting
- Power-folding side mirrors
- Side steps and rear box step
- Drop-in bedliner, moveable tie-down points
- Powered (key fob) hard roller shutter
- Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
- Privacy glass
- Tow Bar with integrated trailer brake controller
- Dual-zone climate control with rear vents
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- 12.0-inch centre touchscreen display
- Digital radio
- Satellite-navigation with connected services
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 360-degree camera displays
- Voice-activated commands
- 5 x USB ports and 2 x 12V
- Wireless phone charger
- Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
- Embedded modem with smartphone app connection
The Platinum’s list of safety features matches the Wildtrak, and certainly ticks all the driver-assist boxes.
The Ranger aced its ANCAP crash test with a five-star safety rating with 2022 date stamp, scoring 84 per cent for adult occupant protection, 93 per cent for child occupant protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection, and 83 per cent for safety assist.
Standard features include
- 9 x airbags
- Perimeter alarm system
- ISOFIX and top tethers x 2
- Emergency Assist
- Active Park Assist 2.0
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Post-impact braking
- Reverse brake assist
- Front, rear parking sensors
- 360-degree camera views
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic-sign recognition with intelligent speed limiter
- Lane-keeping aid with Road Edge Detection
- Drowsy driver alert system
- Lane-centring assist with steering
- Blind-spot monitoring with trailer coverage
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Auto high-beam headlights
- Trailer-sway control
Ford provides a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km, with each of the first four visits capped at $329 a pop. You can also pre-pay for four services (four years or 60,000km) for $1200.
Ford dealers also have access to a company service loan car program.
There’s no doubt market demand exists for a luxury pickup like this, whether you personally see the point or not.
And the Ranger, as the best-driving and highest-tech ute of them all, is the model that does the concept the most justice – alongside its VW Amarok twin.
It’s not a luxury SUV, really, but as a workhorse it does a pretty good impersonation of one.
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MORE: Everything Ford Ranger