2023 Ford Ranger review

The new Ford Ranger is the biggest car launch of 2022, and wait times aside, it's hard to see much standing in the way of its dominance.

Mike Costello
Mike Costello
News Editor
Published
PROS
  • Signature ride comfort, refinement
  • New V6 diesel, permanent 4WD a great addition
  • Enhanced interior ergonomics and displays
  • Thoughtful, clever little touches everywhere
CONS
  • Brace for some long wait lists
  • Extra cabin storage limited to Wildtrak
  • No manual gearbox option at all
  • Putting 4x4 settings in a touchscreen may not be wise

The new-generation Ford Ranger is probably the most important vehicle launch for Australia in 2022.

The Ranger is Australia’s second top-selling vehicle, after its Toyota HiLux competitor, and was once again designed and engineered, for the globe, in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Built on an evolution of the ‘T6’ platform that underpinned the old car, the new Ranger offers a modernised interior, tougher exterior design with more classically American cues, and a new V6 diesel with permanent four-wheel drive as an option.

Like so many vehicles today, it’s also in hot demand. Ford has sold nearly 20,000 Rangers already, and while it plans to deliver 5000 units a month for the short-term, expect wait times if you opt for a more popular version.

While still courting traditional ute buyers – tradies, adventure-seekers etc. – it feels like the new Ranger is also targeted at those who may be scared off by traditional, rougher-around-the-edges workhorses.

Market research and sales figures alike show quite clearly that utes today appeal to a much wider array of people, from various walks of life. Like it or not, the Ranger is a status symbol that’s as popular in the ‘burbs as it is in the regions.

We’ve covered the development, the final reveal and joined some prototype tests, so now all there is left to do is drive the final product. In this case, at the national launch based out of Victoria’s Surf Coast.

In this piece we’ll take a big-picture, broad-brush look at all of the Ranger grades available at launch, which does not include the Raptor halo that’s still a month or two away.

Individual reviews of each variant will follow in quick time, with videos where possible.

How much does the 2023 Ford Ranger cost?

There are five specification grades available: fleet-spec XL, slightly better-equipped XLS, mid-range XLT, second-from-top Sport, and flagship Wikdtrak.

Recommended retail prices are up by between $240 and $2240, but since the outgoing model was often subject to drive-away campaign pricing, it’s hard to quantify the changes. There’s really no scope for discounts right now, so in real terms you’ll be paying a chunk more.

The prices are as follows, all listed as before on-road costs such as stamp duty and dealer delivery – the latter of which has been a controversial issue, with some Ford dealers gouging customers by hiking this fee.

Ranger XL

  • 4×2 single CC 2.0 125kW: $35,930
  • 4×2 super CC 2.0 125kW: $38,430
  • 4×2 dual CC 2.0 125kW: $40,430
  • 4×2 dual cab PU 2.0 125kW: $42,330
  • 4×4 single CC 2.0 154kW: $47,030
  • 4×4 super CC 2.0 154kW: $49,530
  • 4×4 super cab PU 2.0 154kW: $51,430
  • 4×4 dual CC 2.0 125kW: $48,030
  • 4×4 dual CC 2.0 154kW: $51,530
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 125kW: $49,930
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $53,430

Ranger XLS

  • 4×2 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $46,730
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $54,330

Ranger XLT

  • 4×2 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $53,990
  • 4×4 super cab PU 2.0 154kW: $59,190
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $61,190
  • 4×4 dual CC 3.0 V6 184kW: $62,290
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 3.0 V6 184kW: $64,190

Ranger Sport

  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $63,690
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 3.0 V6 184kW: $66,690

Ranger Wildtrak

  • 4×4 dual cab PU 2.0 154kW: $67,190
  • 4×4 dual cab PU 3.0 V6 184kW: $70,190

CC = cab-chassis, PU = pickup tub

Prices exclude on-road costs

What is the 2023 Ford Ranger like on the inside?

The overhauled interior looks and feels much more contemporary that the outgoing model’s did, and better than any price-point competitor currently on sale for my money.

The redesigned steering wheel now offers telescopic adjustment unlike the old Ranger, which improves the ergonomic setup right off the bat.

I also had no complaints about the seats, though they lack the degree of shoulder bolstering of the Isuzu D-Max or Mazda BT-50 twins, and the seatbelt height is fixed.

Ford’s goal was to elicit a “seamless transition from home or work to the vehicle”, and it’s done this well in terms of its technology integration.

Behind the wheel sits a standard digital cluster with a wealth of information: speed, trip data, driver-assist settings, off-road pitch and roll angles, and real-time driveline animations.

The default tachometer isn’t the final word in legibility, however, at least on first impression.

A small but welcome touch is the slick animated start sequence upon entry, which is not the kind of flashiness you’re expecting from a workhorse.

All Rangers run the Sync 4 Ford infotainment software on a more phone-like portrait-oriented centre LCD touchscreen display measuring 10.1 inches (XL to Sport), or 12.0 inches (Wildtrak), with a modem for app-based connectivity and forthcoming over-the-air updates, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with near full-screen sizing.

The XLT, Sport and Wildtrak add embedded satellite-navigation with real-time traffic alerts and nicely detailed urban displays, a voice-controlled assistant, and digital radio (DAB) receiver. This can also be had in the workhorse XLS grade as part of the optional Tech Pack.

Wildtraks get a 360-degree camera view with a handy front-view display for cresting steep hills or parking, which can be optioned in XLT and Sport and comes highly recommended. There’s also a USB outlet mounted next to the rear-view mirror for dash cam fitment.

One aspect of the Ranger’s tech suite that probably won’t get enough attention is the FordPass app integration, which lets you control various car functions and get important vehicle information through your phone.

The process to pair my iPhone’s FordPass app to a Ranger took about 5 minutes, and access to the VIN through the windscreen.

It can be used to lock/unlock and remotely start the vehicle; check fuel level, tyre pressures and oil life; find the car on a map; check the odometer; and remotely turn on the exterior projector lighting at campsites or job sites. You can access 24/7 roadside assist and dealer contacts through said app too.

There’s also a very thoughtful Trailer Light Check feature: hook up your trailer including cables, stand behind it, press a button, and it’ll run through the full light sequence (indicators, brakes, reverse lights), so you no longer need a mate or a reflective shed to ensure your trailer’s signals are functioning.

While many functions are located in touchscreen menus, we’re glad Ford chose to retain buttons for ventilation controls (temperature, fan speed and recirculation) as well as audio volume, because frankly the old ways are sometimes the best, especially with dirty hands.

Underneath the centre dash lies a phone-sized open cubby with an optional wireless charger that is unfortunately only fitted to the Sport and Wildtrak, plus both USB-A and USB-C points.

There are several different transmission tunnel designs, interestingly enough.

All V6 models come with an ‘e-shifter’, a space-saving gear shifter which Ford says it had to fight hard to fit, since Dearborn head office wanted to cut costs and make it fit a rotary dial shifter a-la the Escape SUV. Other grades have a more traditional mechanical gear shifter.

The top three grades (XLT/Sport/Wildtrak) with any engine have an electric park brake switch which frees up space for more convenient cupholders, behind which sits a rotary shifter to operate the different 4×4 setups and drive/traction modes.

The XL and XLS keep the old pull-up mechanical handbrake design.

Storage options include a relatively capacious cupholder and glovebox, plus bigger door bins for bottles and folders, and a phone-friendly open section ahead of the front passenger.

Oddly enough, only the Wildtrak adds a second higher-mounted glovebox and retractable cup holders along the dash. Do less well-heeled ute owners not have lots of stuff, too?

In terms of build quality and fit-and-finish, the balance of padded and stitched touchpoints with easier-to-clean hard plastic surfaces felt about right, and no vehicle I drove had any squeaks or rattles evident.

The interior door handles are also completely unique to the segment, and seem easier to reach and operate – being located in the armrests rather than along the door.

The back seats where relevant don’t feel any more capacious than before from the seat of the pants despite the slightly longer wheelbase, which means my 194cm frame had tight knee room behind my preferred driving position, but good head- and shoulder room.

The rear seat-back folds down, and there are requisite ISOFIX and top-tether child-seat points.

Rear occupants get air vents and a 12V socket – ready for a USB adapter I’d reckon – plus spring-loaded pull-out roof handles (take note, Toyota), a flip-down centre armrest, and pull-up grab handles on each b-pillar.

Meanwhile you can flip up the bench seat base to access small-but-handy storage bins hidden away. Ford also moved the upper seatbelt points rearward so they rub your neck less.

The top-selling dual-cab models have a slightly wider tub than before, and is billed as sufficient to flat-stow a 1200mm x 800mm pallet. This was partly at the behest of junior development parter Volkswagen, which wanted the new Amarok to retain this bragging point.

It’s also simpler to access, with clever and sturdy ‘box steps’ fitted just behind the tyres. I’m a hefty 105kg, jumped on them repeatedly, and they felt stable.

The counterbalanced tailgate (with mounting points for vices and even a pre-drawn ruler) can be lifted with a finger, there are six tie-down hoops in the bed, and the box sides have structural attachment points for canopies pre-fitted.

Too bad there’s only a 12V rather than 240V three-prong socket in the rear – design rules do not allow a universal plug point, which Rangers offer overseas. (Note: Story previously cited ADRs specifically as the reason, but we’re following up to understand this better).

If you want the Rolls-Royce cargo area, then you need the Wildtrak.

It has a powered roller shutter tonneau that operates from your key fob, a bed liner, and moveable tie-down points along the upper-sides.

Those top-of-tub silver bars are quite strong rather than merely decorative, too.

A spray-in bedliner costs $400 in the XLT and Sport and replaces the standard drop-in plastic setup, while it costs $900 in the XL and XLS.

What’s under the bonnet?

There are three diesel engines on the menu: two four-cylinder options, and a new V6. All models come with an automatic transmission with either six speeds or 10, meaning there’s no manual gearbox for traditionalists.

The base XL workhorse is the only grade that offers a 2.0-litre single-turbo diesel making 125kW at 3500rpm and 405Nm from 1750 to 2500rpm, mated to a six-speed auto and the choice of rear-wheel drive (4×2) or part-time 4×4.

Across the range there’s a revised version of the familiar 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel four (with bypass system) making 154kW at 3750rpm (down 3kW) and 500Nm between 1750 and 2000rpm, mated to a 10-speed auto with new torque-converter, and the choice of rear-wheel drive (4×2) or part-time 4×4.

Since this engine launched during a mid-life update for the old PX Ranger, Ford has changed out the diesel injectors after the old ones had problems, added a quieter electric cooling fans, fitted a new polyurethane cover to help NVH suppression, changed some seals, and re-calibrated the whole setup – hence the slight power cut, Ford claims.

Finally there’s the 3.0-litre V6 single-turbo diesel in the XLT and above, making 184kW at 3250rpm and 600Nm from 1750rpm, mated to a 10-speed auto and a full-time 4×4 system suitable for road use – but retaining traditional 2H (rear-drive), 4H (high) and 4L (low) modes as well.

This engine derives from that once used in the Ford F-150 diesel, but naturally the smaller Ranger presented some packaging challenges. Ford Australia changed out the oil pan, made it ready for greater tilt angles, changed out the turbo and intakes, and tested it all over again.

All are rated to tow up to 3.5 tonnes, there looks to be decent under-bonnet space for an auxiliary 12V battery, and none of the engines need AdBlue.

How does the 2023 Ford Ranger drive?

The Ranger’s Aussie DNA remains evident once you break out of the city limits and find yourself loping along ungraded gravel and coarse tarmac.

It rides over corrugations with a minimum of fuss, offering plenty of softness in the suspension, matched with good amounts of control on rebound — even when there’s nothing heavy in the tub.

Carting a payload of 600kg made little difference in terms of seat feel, aside from controlling post-bump rebound slightly more and requiring slightly earlier braking (both expected).

Ford fitted a new electric power steering system and while it’s as light and single-finger-friendly as before, there seems to be a little more directness and consistency to it this time, making the drive come across as a little more engaging.

It’s also quiet in terms of the degree to which tyre roar, wind noise, and engine gruffness are filtered out of the cabin at cruise.

While the core ladder frame and coil front/leaf rear suspension setups are familiar, Ford Australia’s engineers added 50mm in track width and moved the dampers outboard, theoretically tamping down ever further on hopping and bouncing when lightly laden.

It’s also worth noting that Rangers graded XLT, Sport and Wildtrak now have rear disc brakes rather than drums.

Ford’s Australia-led worldwide development program comprised a claimed 4 million kilometres of real-world and sim validation, at temperatures of -50 to 50 degrees celsius, up to 5000m of altitude, across 10 countries. Want to know more on this? See here.

Four-cylinder Rangers with 4×4 have a traditional part-time system with rear-wheel drive as the default, and a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case offering 4×4 High and 4×4 Low (low-range).

MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger, Raptor and Everest preview: Development drive

But V6 models have an on-demand, full-time four-wheel drive system (just turn the dial to ‘4A’) which sends traction to whichever axle needs it, meaning you can drive on sealed roads with four-wheel drive operational, with no risk of driveline binding.

The Bi-Turbo four is largely familiar but Ford has made some changes to iron out some bugs that affected the first iteration – there were indeed some issues.

Its sequential, differently-sized turbos cut lag, and the gear spacings perhaps felt better in this incarnation, meaning it seemed less fussy or prone to hunt about for the perfect ratio. It does still have a slim peak torque band, but overall it’s a refined and sufficiently punchy setup.

Yes, most people will lust after the $3000 more expensive V6, but the Bi-Turbo four offers the sort of punch its displacement belies, and there’ll almost certainly be much shorter wait lists.

The headline V6 offers better punch – 30kW and 100Nm to be precise – as you would expect, as well as idle stop/start and the aforementioned permanent 4WD. It’s also quite refined from outside, with a fairly muted diesel idle.

Overall it offers more immediate punch off the mark as well as better traction in the right setup, and a superior surge of torque from 1750rpm for easier overtaking. It isn’t hard to see the appeal, and it certainly puts a D-Max or HiLux in the shade for refinement and performance.

Note: The V6 models are listed as 58kg heavier than the Bi-Turbo fours, but they also gain an additional 50kg of Gross Combined Mass, so payload differences are negligible.

The difference in fuel use between the four-cylinder (7.6L/100km) and V6 (8.4L/100km) is actually quite small. While this review is based on a wide-ranging launch preview drive, I averaged 8.0L/100km in a V6, from Torquay to Melbourne.

With the old model only the Raptor flagship offered various driving ‘modes’, but this feature is now available further down the range. Mud/Ruts and Sand (Sport and Wildtrak) prime the driveline and traction control for loose surfaces, and activate the rear diff lock.

Tow/Haul mode messes with the transmission’s shift timing to better suit towing (keeping lower gears more often to maximise pick-up and engine braking for example).

This pairs nicely with the available integrated brake controller and the blind-spot monitor’s ability to change its width of views to suit long and wide trailers.

Don’t forget that clever app-based remote trailer light checker function listed above, either, for when you’re hitching up without mates around.

The luxury Ranger models (Sport and Wildtrak) have a button that takes you to a specific off-road touchscreen menu, which houses driveline and diff lock indications, the hill-descent control, steering angle, pitch/roll monitors, and if fitted a forward-view camera.

From a usability perspective, my one concern in these versions was a lack of clarity around how to switch on the rear diff locker if for whatever reason your touchscreen bugs out. But if you spin the rotary dial shifter to Mud/Rut mode, it automatically engages. That’s the failsafe.

My off-roading comprised a slippery 50-degree downhill piece of mud-covered asphalt in drive and reverse, in which the hill descent control with steering wheel-based speed adjustments proved flawless and smooth, numerous rocks, muddy offset moguls and hills, and a dam nudging its 800mm wading capacity.

It simply walked over everything we threw at it, but more impressively, its modes and menus are all particularly user-friendly and will be far more accessible to someone who may not usually be a 4×4 enthusiast. It’s a no-fear and largely set-and-forget setup.

While the single-cab-chassis workhorses have up to 1441kg of payload, the 4×4 dual-cabs account for the most sales so we will hone in on them. Their payloads vary from 1049kg (XL) down to 934kg for the Sport V6. The hero V6 Wildtrak can carry 951kg.

MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger fuel economy revealed
MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger: Every model’s payload, GVM, and GCM

What do you get?

Ranger XL highlights:

  • 2.0-litre single-turbo diesel OR 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel
  • 4×2 or part-time 4×4
  • Conventional gear shifter
  • Mechanical park brake
  • Rear drum brakes
  • Locking rear diff on 4×4
  • Underbody protection on 4×4
  • Halogen headlights and DRLs
  • 16-inch steel wheels and road tyres
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Vinyl floor covering
  • Fabric seats, manual
  • Single-zone climate control
  • Tilt and telescoping steering wheel
  • 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 10.1-inch LCD portrait touchscreen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Embedded modem
  • Remote start function via Ford app
  • Reversing camera (pickup)

Ranger XLS adds:

  • 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel
  • 4×2 or part-time 4×4
  • Drive mode selector
  • Side steps
  • Halogen fog lights
  • 16-inch alloy wheels, steel spare
  • Front parking sensors
  • Locking pickup tailgate, powered
  • Carpet flooring, driver’s mat
  • Six-speaker audio upgrades

Ranger XLT adds:

  • 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel OR 3.0-litre V6 diesel
  • 4×2, part-time 4×4, full-time 4×4 (V6)
  • e-shifter for transmission (V6)
  • Electronic park brake
  • Rear disc brakes
  • Body colour mirrors and handles
  • Tow bar
  • Chrome grille bar
  • LED headlights
  • C-shaped LED daytime running lights
  • 17-inch alloy wheels, steel spare
  • Black sports bar
  • Rear box illumination
  • Bedliner with 12V socket
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Sat-nav
  • Digital radio
  • Leather wheel and shifter
  • Proximity key access and button start
  • Auto-dimming rear mirror
  • Reversing camera (cab-chassis, already standard on all pickup grades)

Ranger Sport adds:

  • 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel OR 3.0-litre V6 diesel
  • Part-time 4×4, full-time 4×4 (V6)
  • Sand and Mud/Rut drive modes
  • Dark-accent grille design
  • LED fog lights
  • Darkened exterior accents
  • Skid plate, two front-mounted tow hooks
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Front passenger floor mat
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Dedicated off-road mode in screen
  • Leather-accented seats, powered for driver

Ranger Wildtrak adds

  • 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel OR 3.0-litre V6 diesel
  • Part-time 4×4, full-time 4×4 (V6)
  • Grey front grille with mesh insert
  • Integrated trailer brake controller
  • Exterior mirror puddle lights and zone lighting
  • Roof rails, aluminium tub-top tie-down rails
  • 18-inch alloy spare wheel
  • Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres (AT)
  • Sailplane-style sports bar
  • Powered roller shutter, through key fob
  • Cargo management system, dividers
  • Luxe Yellow paint option
  • 12-inch touchscreen upgrade
  • Pull-out dash cupholders and second glovebox
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Front heated leather seats
  • Powered front-passenger seat
  • 360-degree cameras
  • Active parking assist

Options and packages

  • 17-inch steel wheels, AT tyres, 17″ steel spare (XL 4×4): $750
  • 17-inch alloy wheels, AT tyres, 17″ steel spare (XLS 4×4): $750
  • 17-inch AT tyres (XLT 4×4): $500
  • 18-inch AT tyres (Sport 4×4): $500
  • Off-Road Pack (XL and XLS 4×2) adds steel underbody protection, AT tyres and locking rear diff: $1150
  • Off-Road Pack (XLT 4×2) adds steel underbody protection, AT tyres: $650
  • Touring Pack (XLT 4×4 and Sport 4×4) adds brake controller, 360-degree cameras, puddle lamp mirrors, exterior zone lighting: $900
  • Tow Pack (XL and XLS) adds tow bar with brake controller: $1700
  • Heavy duty suspension (XL): $500
  • Tech Pack (XLS) adds ‘high level’ Sync 4 with embedded voice recognition, sat-nav, DAB, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, proximity key with button start, body coloured handles: $750
  • Premium Pack (Wildtrak) adds matrix LED headlights, LED tail lights, auxiliary overhead switches, premium B&O audio system: $1500
  • Spray-in bedliner (XL and XLS): $900
  • Spray-in bedliner (XLT and Sport, in lieu of plastic drop-in): $400
  • Prestige paint: $675

It’s also worth mentioning here that Ford Australia is selling ARB accessories through its dealers, making it simpler for customers to access aftermarket add-ons. The range and pricing of these extras can be found here. I think this is a particularly clever move from Ford.

Is the 2023 Ford Ranger safe?

We’re awaiting ANCAP test results, so the new Ranger is currently unrated.

Standard safety features include:

  • 9 airbags
    • Driver and passenger front
    • Driver and passenger front-side
    • Driver and passenger knee
    • Two-row curtains
    • Front-centre
  • Rear ISOFIX and top tethers
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Road edge detection
  • Blind-spot monitoring (pickup) with wider-view trailer mode
  • Rear cross-traffic alert (pickup)
  • Adaptive cruise control

Ranger XLT and above add

  • Adaptive cruise control with Stop/Go
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Lane-centring aid

Even the base cars are impressively equipped with the latest drive-assist features, making them all the more family-friendly.

How much does the 2023 Ford Ranger cost to run?

Ford provides a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Service intervals are annual or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and the first four visits are capped at $329 apiece.

CarExpert’s Take on the 2023 Ford Ranger

The old Ranger was still among the best utes right to the end of its life, so the fact this new one is clearly the best option in its class should not surprise you.

The new V6 with full-time 4×4 is great for those who tow, the interior has improved ergonomics and flashier screens to be more SUV-like than ever, it has clever little touches like its app-based functions and the rear box step, and there’s a grade to suit everyone.

It also retains the Ranger’s signature ride quality over corrugated gravel and coarse Aussie B-roads since it was born on them, has slightly more connected-in-feel electric power steering, and walked all over the off-road challenges we collectively threw at it.

The only major, potentially deal-breaking issue really is the likelihood you’ll have to wait a while, if you order a popular grade (Sport and Wildtrak V6) in particular.

Toyota really needs to give that HiLux an update, and do it soon.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger fuel economy revealed
MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger: Every model’s payload, GVM, and GCM
MORE: 2022 Ford Ranger, Raptor and Everest preview: Development drive

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.
Ratings
Overall8.7
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8
Ride Comfort 9.5
Fit for Purpose 9.5
Handling Dynamics 8.8
Interior Practicality and Space 8.5
Fuel Efficiency 8
Value for Money 7.5
Performance 9
Technology Infotainment 9.5

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