2023 Ford Ranger review: Australian launch

2023-ford-ranger-review:-australian-launch
  • Doors and Seats

    CarGenericIcon

    4 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine

    EngineIcon

    3.0DT, 6 cyl.

  • Engine Power

    EnginePowerIcon

    184kW, 600Nm

  • Fuel

    FuelIcon

    Diesel 8.4L/100KM

  • Manufacturer

    DrivetrainIcon

    4XC

  • Transmission

    TransmissionIcon

    NA

  • Warranty

    WarrantyIcon

    5 Yr, Unltd KMs

  • Ancap Safety

    AncapSafetyIcon

    NA

ExpandMoreIcon

Sam Purcell

With big boots to fill, the next-generation 2023 Ford Ranger will have its work cut out to continue the brand’s success in the ute segment. Thankfully, it has brought a swag of tricks and updates to the fight.





  • A strong range of smooth and torquey diesel powertrains
  • Ups the ante for interior, technology and infotainment for utes
  • Lots of smart, practical small details added. That rear step is genius

  • One of the most expensive four-wheel-drive utes available
  • Only the Wildtrak gets some practical interior additions
  • Some extra thigh support in the electric seats would be ace

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the 2023 Ford Ranger in Australia. In one of Australia’s most popular – and hotly contested – markets, the Ranger has been taking on an incumbent favourite head-on. And when you look at four-wheel-drive sales (discounting the two-wheel-drive variants), it often comes out on top.

It occupies a staggering slice of Ford’s overall pie in Australia, and lays the foundation for successful spin-offs like the Everest and Ranger Raptor.

It’s a job that only gets harder, when you consider how successful and impressive Ford’s outgoing Ranger has remained during its 11-year tenure. It was good enough to take on the Toyota HiLux for sales dominance, and often won the race for 4×4 models.



Those are some big boots to fill, and a whole lot of weight on the shoulders.

Goes to reason, then, that Ford engineers have left nothing on the table with a new model. There might have been a temptation to re-skin the current platform, re-jig a few things and sprinkle in some extra tech.

However, they didn’t do that. Like the T6 Ranger, this next-generation model has been designed, engineered and tested in Australia. It’s not a completely clean-sheet design. Instead, they have taken the successful T6 platform and moved it into a new-generation model.



The wheel track has been bumped outwards by 50mm. Not by wheel offset, but by reworked suspension. It’s still leaf-sprung at the back with independent struts up front, but the rear shock absorbers have been mounted outboard of the chassis rails.

Oh, and most models – those with an electric park brake – now have rear disc brakes.

The wheelbase – already one of the longest in the class – has grown by 50mm also. The rear wheels are in about the same place. The front end has been shuffled forward by 50mm to accommodate new powertrains and future-proof the platform. In other words, there is now room for future electrification.



Its windows and the windscreen are the same (or similar), but the inside and outside have been thoroughly reworked.

Single-turbo and bi-turbo four-cylinder turbo diesel engines carry over from the previous-generation Ranger, with slightly revised output fingers.

The 3.2-litre, five-cylinder diesel engine has gone to live with grandad on the farm, along with any chance of a manual transmission. From here, the Ranger is automatic only.

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The least powerful single-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine – available in lower-specification grades and running through a six-speed automatic gearbox – makes 125kW and 405Nm.

Adding an extra turbocharger gets you 154kW and 500Nm, along with four more ratios in the gearbox. This so-called BiTurbo powertain is available across the range, all the way up to Wildtrak. It’s been recalibrated in this case, and has been at the receiving end of “continuous improvement” by Ford.

The big news comes from the optional big engine up front: a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, which Ford has shoehorned into the Ranger for the first time. Actually, thanks to the new hydroformed front structure, there is plenty of room under the bonnet. One will quickly notice the amount of space between the radiator and the front of the engine.

This V6 – which has already seen service in a wide variety of applications – makes 184kW and 600Nm in this case, and runs through a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

There are more changes beyond the flexplate, as well. A traditional ‘shift-on-the-fly’ four-wheel-drive system is still available in lower grades, which means only rear-wheel drive is available on high-traction surfaces like bitumen.

Higher grades pick up a new full-time four-wheel-drive system, which is mechanically different to the centre differential you’d find in a more traditional full-time four-wheel system.



Strictly speaking, this new set-up is not a permanent or full-time four-wheel-drive system, because the driver can choose between rear-wheel drive and (2H) and an automatic mode (4A).

The front and rear wheels are conected not by a differential, but an electronically controlled clutch pack. This can be fully locked in and engaged for off-roading, but can offer enough slip and variation to prevent wind-up on the blacktop.

In other words, you can run all-wheel drive on-road, with the car choosing when (and how much) the front wheels come into play. This is different to what you’d have in a Toyota LandCruiser or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, but provides a simlar end result for the driver.

Four-wheel-drive variants of the Ranger continue to be offered with a low-range transfer case – despite the multitude of ratios in the gearbox – and a low-range transfer case.

Pricing2023 Ford Ranger
PriceXL: $35,490–$52,690

XLS: $46,730–$54,330

XLT: $53,990–$64,190

Sport: $63,690–$66,690

Wildtrak: $67,190–$70,190

Raptor: $85,490

All prices before on-road costs, click here for full details
OptionsTech Pack – $750 (XLS)

– High-level Sync 4A

– Built-in navigation

– DAB radio

– Dual zone air-conditioning

– Rear air vents

– Sensor key with push-button start

(including body-coloured doorhandles instead of black)

Premium Pack – $1500 (Wildtrak)

– Matrix LED headlamps

– Full LED tail-lamps

– Auxiliary overhead switches

– B&O premium audio

Touring Pack – $900 (XLT, Sport)

– 360-degree camera

– puddle lamps

Spray-in bed-liner – $900 (XL, XLS), $400 (XLT, Sport)

All-terrain tyres – $750 (XL, XLS), $500 (XLT, Sport)

Heavy-duty suspension – $500 (XL)

Integrated brake controller – $500 (XLT 4×2)

Tow Pack with integrated trailer brake controller – $1700 (XL, XLS)

Prestige Paint – $675 (all models)
RivalsIsuzu D-Max | Mazda BT-50 | Toyota HiLux

Inside is an area where the Ford Ranger makes a huge stride forward. Not in comparison to the previous generation, but also in relation to the key competition. It’s fresh, well considered, and balances the needs of technology and practicality well.

Naturally, the interior is dominated by that big portrait-style infotainment display, but there is plenty of attention to detail and nice touches beyond that giant screen. Some of it takes inspiration from other makes and models I’m sure, but the end result is more practicality: a parcel shelf in front of the driver is always good for storing your everyday bits and bobs, and it has a removable rubber floor.



Only the Wildtrak gets the addition of a second glovebox and additional pop-out cupholders underneath the air vents; something that Isuzu and Toyota feature more broadly across their range of vehicles.

Additional storage is located underneath the infotainment display, along with power outlets (single USB-A, USB-C and 12V). Higher-specification models also pick up a wireless charging pad here, which was able to fit my large phone in its case. And that’s not always the case.

The glovebox is big, and there are a couple of handy smaller storage nooks (in otherwise dead space) that will undoubtedly prove to be handy for everyday usage. Keen eyes will even notice subtle icons to help you decide what to put where.

The second row of the Ranger continues to be one of the better examples in the segment, owing mostly to the amount of space on offer. It’s not as cramped as some of the competition, which allows this car to suit family usage more readily.

This model picks up some important second-row additions in this regard: air vents and power outlets, bringing it up to speed with the segment. Carryover features – like underseat storage and a forward-folding seat back – continue with the trend of practicality and attention to detail.

The tub is now bigger – thanks to that increase in wheel track – and allows it to fit a Euro pallet. That’s one of the current Amarok’s big claims to fame, although I still argue that nobody ever really puts pallets into a tub. That’s what flatbed trays are for.



There are plenty more practical and thoughtful touches up the back. The genius step built into the rear bumper is the hero here, but there are also additional tie-down points and power outlets (depending on specification).

Weights and capacities2023 Ford Ranger
SeatsFive
Length5370mm
Width1918mm
Height1884mm
Wheelbase3270mm
GVM3230–3350kg
Kerb weight1789–2399kg
Payload934–1441kg
GCM6200–6400kg
Braked towing capacity3500kg

Infotainment and Connectivity

Infotainment is a big one for the Ranger, and the long-serving 8.0-inch infotainment display has made way for some significantly larger portrait-style displays. The range starts with a 10.1-inch system, while the Wildtrak picks up the larger 12.0-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both wireless) are accounted for, while native navigation and digital radio start with the XLT specification.

The operating system – known as Sync 4A – has a different look to the outgoing system, and feels very sophisticated and grown-up. There is a lot of functionality going on here, which is helped by some shortcut buttons top and bottom to quickly find where you need to go. It’s one of the first systems I have used that can do Android Auto in a larger portrait-style orientation, which is nice.

The simple fact that this big display doesn’t have to worry about air-conditioning controls is great. That’s handled by tactile mechanical buttons and dials, which continues to be the best and easiest way to control it.

An 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster – impressively standard across the range – has a wide variety of information readouts to dig through. This set-up is only bested by the 12.3-inch cluster in the Ranger Raptor, and helps for everyday usage and practicality. For those who love all of the oily details, you can dig into stuff like engine oil temperature. It’s flanked by fuel and water temperature gauges and works well overall.

The Ford is yet to be endowed with an ANCAP safety rating. However, we know that testing is underway and a final ANCAP score will be with us soon. The previous-generation Ranger had a five-star ANCAP rating from back in 2015, but the requirements have grown increasingly stringent since then.



In an effort to achieve top marks, Ford has added in some new technology. Chief amongst these is the addition of a front centre airbag; something first seen in this segment in the Isuzu D-Max. That makes for nine airbags for a dual-cab ute, which also includes side curtain and knee airbags for front driver and passenger.

There is also stuff like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and blind-spot monitoring, the latter of which is smart enough to includes a trailer. Lane-keep assistance and lane-departure warning have been sharpened up, and can now detect a defined road edge without paint markings.

2023 Ford Ranger
ANCAP ratingUntested

Like the previous-generation Ranger, this new model will continue to sit at the high end of the class in terms of asking price. Cheaper options, like the Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton, will always appeal to those with more of an eye on the budget.

There’s a large portion of Australian buyers that seem happy to part with increasingly large sums of money for the latest and greatest, which this Ranger certainly rubs up as on first impressions. And surprise, surprise, there is already a growing waiting list for the top-spec model with the more expensive powertrain and technology options ticked.

What’s important to consider here for the Ranger is that while it is quite expensive, prices over the previous-generation model haven’t been as big a jump as other competitors. Prices have gone up by only a few hundred dollars in some cases, all the way up to over $2000. There’s at least a big jump forward in technology and inclusions that balances the value-for-money analysis.

We love that Ford hasn’t skimped on important safety technology across the range, and even XL gets things like underbody protection (4×4 only), climate control, tailgate assistance, adaptive cruise control, an 8.0-inch instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch infotainment display. That’s bigger than some of the top-spec competition, and means this bottom-spec model feels like anything but that.



What’s less impressive is Ford keeping some nice elements only for the Wildtrak, including the second glovebox, pop-out cupholders, and auto up-down on passenger electric windows.

At a glance2023 Ford Ranger
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs$1316 (4 years)

Getting a solid fuel economy figure is tricky on a test like this: we cycled through 12 different vehicles – some of them laden – with a wide range of powertrains and spec levels. We only got some basic indications on fuel economy, which seems to be around 9.5L/100km for the V6 diesel, and around one litre less for the four-cylinder options.

It’s interesting to note that the less powerful single-turbo variant uses more fuel than the BiTurbo model. We’d wager that this would come from the 10-speed automatic gearbox and its ability to reduce fuel usage through its tightly packed range of ratios. Whether this translates to better fuel economy in the real world, we cannot be sure yet.

Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)7.6L/100km single-turbo
Fuel cons. (claimed)7.2L/100km bi-turbo
Fuel cons. (claimed)8.4L/100km V6
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel tank size80L

Considering the rampant success of the Volkswagen Amarok V6 – and to a lesser extent the Navara back in the D40 days – throwing a larger-capacity turbo diesel engine into the Ranger was always going to be a popular choice.

And the end result is equally predictable: 600Nm of torque comes on tap with a lazy, easily accessible nature that suits the Ranger. It’s an engine with a low redline – 184kW coming on at 3250rpm.

It doesn’t rev out eagerly, nor does it seem to surge ahead in a similar vein to the Volkswagen V6. Instead, it’s a more balanced and progressive shove of torque.



What’s great is that downchanges aren’t required for a nice increase in speed and momentum. The 10-speed automatic gearbox – revamped with this new Ranger – doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to use as many ratios as possible. Instead, it’s happy to hold its gear and let the engine lug forward.

Off-line performance is good, but the ability of the Ranger to jump from 80–120km/h – cool, calm and collected at all times – is perhaps most impressive.

I’m sure this will be the power plant of choice for those keen to tow and lug heavy loads, which is something we will have to hold fire on for now (in terms of a verdict).

It’s not a new engine, by the way. The so-called ‘Lion’ V6 has been around for many years now in a variety of different iterations and applications. Read this story to know more about it.

The 2.0-litre bi-turbo engine – which was introduced towards the end of the previous-generation Ranger’s life – is something of a quiet achiever here. Naturally, all of the talk and attention have been squarely focussed on the not-so-new compacted iron-graphite V6.

Goliath doesn’t leave David in the weeds, however. The twin-turbocharged four-banger – which is able to run in compound and sequential modes – is surprisingly willing and flexible. Although it’s a carryover engine, it feels particularly different in this application. I thought maybe some of the hardware, such as fuel injectors or turbochargers, might have been changed.



However, it’s the gearbox – with a new calibration and a new torque converter – that has yielded the big benefits. It feels more direct and responsive in this case, and also sounds a bit different to boot.

Special commendation must also go to the single-turbo 2.0-litre variant, which runs through a six-speed automatic gearbox. While you can certainly feel where it is down on relative power and torque to the other two powertrains, it’s more than enough for general duties and everyday driving.

The six-speed gearbox never feels underdone either, and provided you’re not regularly towing or slogging your way up steep inclines all of the time, this would be enough powertrain for your needs.

The ride quality isn’t as much of a big shift or move forward as the rest of the car, but don’t view that necessarily as a bad thing. Truth be told, the previous-generation Ford Ranger was quite solid in this regard, and stayed right at the pointy end of the class until retirement.

And the fact of the matter is: when you’ve got a big payload to account for, along with hefty braked towing and gross combination capacities too, the suspension needs to be relatively heavy-duty to account for these stresses.

Payloads vary by specification, body style and spec, naturally. It runs from its highest (1442kg ) for the two-wheel-drive XL specification to around 950kg in V6-powered four-wheel-drive variants. Interestingly, Ford opted to increase the GVM for the Wildtrak V6 specification, which leaves the V6 Sport sporting the lowest payload (934kg).



And for those who really like to sweat the details, opting for V6 diesel power brings with it a 58kg penalty at the weighbridge. However, this is matched by a 50–70kg bump upwards in GVM.

Perhaps the most ruthlessly pragmatic of four-wheel drivers amongst us will forego the big donk and fancy accoutrement, and opt for the XL, which is a bit of a peach and would suit desert travellers nicely. In four-wheel guise, it has a 1049kg payload and relatively light 2201kg kerb weight (with a tub).

Front and rear axle loads stay steady across the four-wheel-drive range, and we understand that ARB is currently working on a GVM upgrade for the Ranger. And as night follows day, there will be many more in the pipeline.

Off-road performance wasn’t able to be thoroughly tested this time around, because we weren’t able to drive through some of the set tracks. It was wet and dreary, and the clay-based tracks quickly turned to slick and treacherous for our gaggle of cars in the Victorian bush.

Don’t worry, though. We’ve already got a V6-powered Ranger booked in for a test out of our Sydney office, where we can give it a thorough workout.

I notice that going into these off-road modes automatically turns on the rear diff lock as well, which can otherwise be toggled either via the infotainment display (higher model grades) or a button near the shifter (lower grades).



Key details2023 Ford Ranger
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Power125kW @ 3500rpm154kW @ 3750rpm184kW @ 3250rpm
Torque405Nm @ 1750–2500rpm500Nm @ 1750–2000rpm600Nm @ 1750–2250rpm
Drive typePart-time four-wheel drivePart-time four-wheel driveFull-time four-wheel drive
TransmissionSix-speed torque converter automatic10-speed torque converter automatic10-speed torque converter automatic

It’s been such a highly anticipated vehicle, but Ford seems to have delivered on the hype that has surrounded the next-generation Ranger. It feels similar to the outgoing model in some respects, which isn’t a bad thing. It rides well and steers sweetly for a big four-wheel-drive ute, and has solid payload and towing credentials.

Naturally, the improvements in terms of infotainment and technology are the biggest jumps forward. This puts the Ranger right at the top of the pile in many respects, and it’s matched by some smart and practical smaller details for everyday usage.

It’s more expensive, yes. But this new Ranger raises the bar to match the price rises, and continues to prove the theory that Australians are more than happy to pay top dollar for a fully loaded ute.

Just like the previous-generation Ranger, I expect this model to be a very popular choice for the coming years. What’s perhaps interesting now is how the key competitors will return fire.

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Pick-up Double Cab

8.3/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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