The atmosphere was bristling with anticipation as our group of invited journalists from the Caribbean and Central America was warmly received at the lavish Bristol Buenaventura Resort Hotel on Panama’s Pacific coast, some two hours from Panama City. On our first official evening we joined Ford officials and other media representatives for cocktails and dinner. The following day the Ford Ranger class was in session where we saw videos and learnt all about the Ranger’s new capabilities and vast improvements over the already successful outgoing model. The new Ford Ranger boasts a clean sheet design with durability against the toughest conditions experienced in over 180 countries, including extreme heat or cold, water, sand or snow. The Ranger is also a full 1-ton compact truck and the driving range is estimated at up to 1000+km on a single tank of fuel.
Ford came prepared to compare with the Hilux and Navara also ready for testing. We opted to start in the standard Ford Ranger, a 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel 4×4 double cab with 6-speed manual gearbox. Our high-power 2.2-litre felt responsive for its size needing just 1500rpm to generate peak torque, which is sustained all the way through 2500rpm with 80 per cent available from 1300rpm all the way through 3500rpm. Soon we were at the Rancho Hato Viejo where we broke for lunch. Discussion was lively at the table and led us to confirm many differences and characteristics of the Ranger and its closest competitors. The Ranger was also considerably roomier than its peers, handling was stable and power delivery was excellent. Next we looked at the new advances up close and personal like better, high-mounted components like electronics, breathing valves and an air filter that features a water trap and a sealed a/c compressor ensuring that the Ranger is safe to go through water up to 800mm deep. This could be a great bonus for Trinidad emergency flood navigation, we concurred.
The off-road route was spread over the expanse of the ranch, where we drove over the tipover mound, rocked on the offset bumps, over a log crossing and a large man-made hill featuring dips on entry and exit to show the Ranger’s approach, breakover and departure angles. It was so steep that at apex only the sky was visible through the windshield. We then made a loop crossing the river twice, which was easily managed at idle speed in first gear and soon we were back to the start. At no point did the Ranger become stuck– a testament to the 4WD system’s capabilities. On our return trip to the hotel, we contemplated all that we had discovered about the new Ford Ranger. One fact was clear, as they would soon find out– the light truck & pickup segment has been redefined.
The Ford Ranger is available locally at McEnearney Motors. The current prices are TT$259K for the 2.2-litre 4×2, TT$279K for the 2.2-litre 4×4 and TT$329K for the 3.2-litre (200hp/346ft-lb) limited edition version which we just can’t wait to drive! Look out for the upcoming 6-page feature in Zorce Issue #18!