Ford Ranger XLT 4x4 review: still a BiT special

David Linklater
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Photos / David Linklater


Base price
Maximum power kW
Maximum torque Nm
Towing (Tonnes)
  • BiT powertrain is still sweet
  • Highly specified with active safety gear
  • Ranger in general is a work of genius 
  • That's a very chromey grille
  • Big premium for 4x4 in XLT
  • That 4x4 is only part-time

Things have changed rapidly in the world of the Ford Ranger. When Ford New Zealand introduced the 2.0-litre biturbo-diesel engine (aka BiT)/10-speed automatic powertrain in 2018, it was a star attraction for the Ranger Raptor, later trickling down to other models as an option.

Now, with the introduction of new V6 turbo-diesel and turbo-petrol models, the BiT is pretty much the mainstream engine for double-cab Rangers, ousting the old 3.2-litre five-cylinder.

You can still get a single-turbo 2.0-litre diesel on the workhorse XL models, starting at cab-chassis level, but for the everyperson XLT featured here, it’s BiT all way: 154kW/500Nm and that slick 10-speed shifter.

We’ve already sung the praises of the new Ranger many times and they still apply to XLT. Ranger raises the bar for one-tonners in terms of blending ultimate 4x4-ability with road-appropriate equipment, ride and handling.

What might require a bit more explanation is where the XLT now sits in the expanded lineup. It’s the only “lifestyle” (for want of a better word) Ranger that you can still have with 2WD, so it’s important from that point of view. Those old Hi-Rider Rangers were instrumental in taking the model to the top of the NZ sales charts, even if Ford’s focus has moved elsewhere now.

Our test vehicle is actually the XLT 4x4, which comes at a large $10k premium over the 2WD: $66,990. Expensive? Yes and no. You can’t have the new V6 turbo-diesel in the XLT, but the V6 Sport isn’t a million miles away in look and specification and it’s close to another $10k up the ladder, at $75,490. Think of that $10k as being split between the larger engine ($5k is the premium for the V6 in Wildtrak) and the Sport’s blacked-out exterior, larger 18-inch wheels, bedliner (fitted as option on our XLT), leather upholstery, rear air-con outlets, fold-flat seats, off-road Sync touch-screen menu and e-shifter.

Or you can spend that extra on upgrading from XLT to the Wildtrak BiT, of course. So the XLT occupies a crucial space whichever way you look at it.

Now, about that e-shifter: don’t really miss it in the XLT. The stubby electronic transmission selector, standard on V6 Sport upwards, is a rare ergonomic mis-step in new Ranger: nice to look at and to hold, but a bit finicky to operate. The XLT’s old-school lever just does the job better.

The BiT powertrain has a busier feel than the V6 for sure, but it’s smooth and sweet as ever. In terms of character, it certainly holds its own against the bigger-capacity unit. What the BiT is missing is the brilliant full-time AWD system that comes as standard with the V6 engine; Ranger BiT 4x4 models are all part-time, meaning they are RWD unless you’re specifically in an off-road operating mode. Like most one-tonne utes, in other words.

That AWD setup (complete with 4Auto mode) gives the Ranger a level of all-road/all-terrain sophistication that makes the V6 a highly desirable machine. It’s certainly a want… but whether it’s a need in context of the BiT models’ vastly improved on-road manners might be a moot point. There’s a case for pocketing the extra $10k and sticking with the XLT; it’s still significantly more polished than most other utes on the road.

You might be surprised just how much you get in the mid-range XLT. It still comes with adaptive cruise control and a large suite of active safety features (including evasive steer assist and lane-keeping), keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, that swish portrait infotainment screen, LED lights front and rear, side steps, that handy “box step” for the tray and load box protectors around the top (which you don’t get on an XL). And yes, the tow bar is standard.

It looks very mainstream, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find the XLT has a level of standard equipment we wouldn’t have imagined in a ute a few years ago. It’s not the glamour Ranger by any means, but in terms of market position and customer choice it’s doing some really important work.

By the way, the vibrant Blue Lightning colour on our test vehicle is not available on the Wildtrak. So the XLT can be a bit special too.

ENGINE: 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel (BiT) four cylinder
POWER: 154kW/500Nm
GEARBOX: 10-speed automatic, part-time 4WD with low-range transfer
CONSUMPTION: 7.2l/100km
PRICE: $66,990


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