Who would have thought that the pickup truck will wind up becoming one of the most popular vehicles for car buyers. Originally built for farming and commercial use, these trucks are now more commonly seen going around the urban metropolis, as well as the quiet suburbs. To think that decades ago these ‘beasts of burden’ were seen as nothing more than what they were originally built for.
With ever-changing times, automakers had to adapt to what the market demands and Ford was able to hit the mark nearly a decade ago with the sixth-generation Ranger. Dubbed the ‘T6’, it essentially set the bar as what should a pickup should be in both urban and commercial needs. With its roguish looks, standard array of features, and capable turbo-diesel engines, the sixth-generation Ranger has all the makings of a proper pickup truck and then some.
After trying out both the Wildtrak 4x2 and 4x4 variants, it was now time to test out the more practical choice in the Ranger lineup, the XLT. A bit more affordable and packing less features than the top-of-the-line Wildtrak, the XLT serves as the mid-range offering. But is it enough to convince those that do not need 4x4 but want something that is capable all the same? And will it be able to walk the fine line between a typical ute and a passenger vehicle for the open road?
First things first, what exactly did Ford change on the 2019 Ranger XLT? Since it received a relatively subtle nip and tuck, the T6 Ranger still looks almost the same as the one released in 2015. In fact, the only exterior makeover the truck has received is a slightly different front fascia. Much like the Wildtrak we reviewed before, the XLT now has a new two-bar style chrome grill, as well as a more unified front bumper design. It even has the newly-styled foglights which complement the overall redesign. But while the Wildtrak still rolls on the same wheels, the XLT gets a new set of six-spoke alloys.
No other changes can be seen on the T6 which might be a letdown for some. But personally, the refreshed Ranger still looks appealing since it first came out four years ago. Its design is still fresh and contemporary without being too overly-stylish which could be one of the reasons it still looks good to this day. Fingers crossed that Ford makes the next-generation as dashing as the current sixth-gen.
Those familiar with the pre-facelift’s interior will be glad to know that it still comes with the ergonomic dashboard. Sure some might say they could have at least made some noticeable changes but since there was nothing wrong with it, why bother changing a good design? From the three-spoke steering wheel, aircon controls / dials, and infotainment system, all is still familiar and within reach inside the Ranger. Perhaps the only thing that was changed inside the pickup is the refreshed gear selector which now has the same design as the one on the Raptor / Wildtrak.
Fans of the SYNC 3 will be disappointed however, as the XLT does not come with the new touchscreen. Instead, all XLT variants only have the SYNC 1 system. Archaic as it may be for some, it does come with AM/FM radio, Aux, Bluetooth, USB, as well as a CD slot if you still prefer your music via compact discs. It even has voice control if you prefer voicing out your commands. But since it doesn’t have a touchscreen, you’ll have to go through menu after menu in order to browse through a playlist, or manipulate the settings of the infotainment system. Here’s to hoping the next-generation Ranger will have SYNC 3 standard across the range.
No leather seats here as it only comes with fabric upholstery. The driver’s seat, however, does come with height adjustability which is always a in my opinion. Those seated in the back will be happy to know that there’s a center armrest for added comfort, as well as a 12V power socket for recharging your gadgets or smartphones while on the go. Legroom, elbowroom, as well as headroom are abundant at the back but since it’s a pickup truck, the rear backrests cannot be reclined.
Under the hood is, you guessed it, a 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. It's been powering the T6 Ranger for years and delivers substantial pulling power still. It puts out 160 PS along with 385 Nm of torque. Not exactly the most powerful, but more than adequate to pull this midsize hauler.
Despite its age, the 2.2-liter single-turbo Puma engine can still deliver. Initial torque from the engine is good thanks to boost coming in as early as 1600 rpm. With it, you don’t need to mash the throttle to get the Ranger moving. And once on the move, it maintains its momentum smoothly. Sure it’s not as powerful or as torquey as the newer EcoBlue 2.0-liter found in the Wildtrak, but it is still more than capable of towing 2500 kg, as well as carrying 1,120 kg worth of payload; according to Ford that is.
It doesn’t have the newer ten-speed auto, but to be honest I’d much prefer having the six-speed. Sure, having four extra gears is great on the highway, but in the everyday urban grind, the proven six-speed automatic will do just fine. Plus, it can still deliver a frugal 8.5 - 9.0 km/l in normal city driving. Should you be stuck in gridlock traffic, however, expect it to return about 7.0 km/l. Out on the highway, the Ranger XLT is capable of averaging 14.0 km/l, complete with a bit of overtaking.
Ride quality, on the other hand, is acceptable. While it’s no Navara or Strada, the Ranger rides okay and is relatively more civilized than some of its competitors. The ride will sometimes be jarring especially when going over rough roads and pock-marked streets, but what did you expect from a pickup truck with rear leaf springs?
Thanks to its electronic power steering, maneuvering the Ranger through tight city streets and narrow alleyways was easy. It’s also adaptable which meant it is light when just going around town or during parking, and will only have some heft while driving at highway speeds. I’m also happy to report that there is now a bit more feedback going though the steering wheel, something the previous models lacked.
With a sticker price of Php 1,236,000, the rear-wheel drive XLT ticks the boxes of what a 4x2 pickup truck needs. Yes it’s not filled to the brim feature-wise, but the XLT is one of the few automatic pickup trucks in the market that come with cruise control, as well as a bedliner as standard equipment. And while it may not have a reverse camera, it does come with rear parking sensors that can aid the driver. Its closest competitors are actually a bit more bare when it comes to amenities and other standard features.
If you’re in the market for a high-riding hauler that has a built-in bedliner to carry all your goods, can double as a family car, doesn’t come with a heavy 4x4 system, and is relatively easy to drive, the Ranger XLT could just be the truck you’re looking for. Still, I just wished it was available with SYNC 3.