2023 Ford Ranger Sport review – 2.0L 4CYL & 3.0L V6 (video)

Mitchell Jones

The 2023 Ford Ranger Sport is one of the most important new vehicles of this year. When Ford Australia was handed the task of developing the outgoing Ranger as part of Ford’s T6 program, the scope and significance of it was enormous.

That original model was instrumental in securing Ford Australia’s role as a design and engineering centre in a post-manufacturing environment. In the intervening years, the Ranger has been adapted to the US market and the T6 platform has spun off the highly successful Bronco.

Crucially, it also cemented Ford’s position in the market, giving the Toyota HiLux its first major existential threat. The stakes are arguably higher this time around, with an upcoming Volkswagen Amarok derivative sharing bones with this new model. This gives it the added pressure of meeting expectations of Volkswagen customers, including perceived interior quality.

With some clever features including an available 12-inch tablet touch-screen inside and exterior zone lighting, the Ranger must meet the needs of 180 international markets. We have already sampled the 2023 Ranger at the launch event, and the fire-breathing Ranger Raptor with its 292kW petrol V6. But this is our first real-world impression of the new Ranger, in Sport trim with both the V6 and 2.0L, for an extended period.

2023 Ford Ranger Sport 2.0TTD – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder
Output: 154kW@3750rpm / 500Nm@1750-2000rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Drive type: Part-time RWD/4WD, locking rear diff
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.5, 255/65
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2224kg
Power-to-weight: 14.44:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 7.2L/100km
Economy during test: 8.0L/100km[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Fuel capacity/Type: 80L/Diesel
Power efficiency: 21.38kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.48 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.26 seconds*
60-110km/h: 6.48 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.89 seconds at 135.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.679g
100-0km/h braking: 3.47 seconds at 44.42 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.113g
Decibel at idle: 47*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 79*
Priced from: $63,690[/column][end_columns]

2023 Ford Ranger Sport V6 – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6
Output: 184kW@3250rpm / 600Nm@1750-2250rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Drive type: Part-time RWD/4WD, locking rear diff
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.5, 255/65
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2282kg
Power-to-weight: 12.40:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 8.4L/100km
Economy during test: 9.4L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 80L/Diesel[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 21.90kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.75 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.98 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.65 seconds*
1/4 mile: 15.90 seconds at 143.3km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.717g
100-0km/h braking: 3.45 seconds at 43.92 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.196g
Decibel at idle: 46*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 76*
Priced from: $66,690[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2023 Ford Ranger Sport – THE PACKAGE

At $63,690 for the 2.0 BiTurbo, the Ranger Sport is the third tier of the lineup, sitting above the base XL and intermediate XLT and XLS. Only the $67,190 Ranger Wildtrak and $85,490 Raptor sit above it (before on-road costs). Going for the V6 engine adds $3000 to the bill.

The squared-off styling is a fresh and contemporary interpretation of the same design theme used in on the US-market F-150. Details such as the tail lamp layout and even the font for badging look neat and smart.

Clever new features are abundant throughout the new Ranger, including an integrated rear step for the tray, with slots and mounting points inside the tray and on the edge. There are clamp mounts and a 12V power socket, with the width now increased to accommodate a European standard pallet (1200mm x 800mm pallet). Payload is rated at 942kg in the 2.0L and 934kg in the V6, with a gross combination mass (GCM) of 6350kg and 6400kg, respectively. Braked towing capacity remains at 3500kg (750kg unbraked).

While we’re on the subject of dimensions, overall width and wheelbase have been treated to a 50mm increase, with less overhang. The Ranger in Sport trim now measures 5370mm long, 1918mm wide, 1884mm tall with a wheelbase of 3270mm. The approach angle is 30 degrees and departure angle is 25.6, while ground clearance is a decent 234mm.

Safety-wise, the Ranger has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating and brings plenty of firsts to the segment. No less than nine airbags are featured, including knee, inboard and outboard side airbags and curtain, and the new centre airbag to protect the front passengers from clashing.

Other safety features include available adaptive matrix-LED headlights, lane centring and more refined and up-to-date versions of AEB and adaptive cruise control. One feature we really like is the intelligent traffic sign recognition that knows when it is a school zone – to us, this shows the value of a vehicle developed in Australia for local conditions.

And then the centrepiece of the cabin is the new tablet-oriented 10.1-inch (12-inch on the Wildtrak) touch-screen running SYNC 4A. It offers a world of functions and depth never before seen in this segment. Some the highlights include a unique off-road page that allows you to operate and visually confirm various drive settings such as the locking rear diff, witness views from the external cameras, and of course play around with vehicle settings and operate the media functions, with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

It is complemented at the bottom by an array of buttons and knobs, including volume/power, dual zone climate and hazard. These are well integrated and do not jar with the minimalistic design. The screen itself works fast, has crisp visuals and with features such as pinch-to-zoom, feels as modern and up-to-the-minute as you can get.

The new selector for the 10-speed automatic is pleasant to operate and reminds us of the ‘xenomorph’ alien from the Alien movie franchise of the 1980s. It will automatically slot in Park if you turn the engine off in Drive.

All Rangers are covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with capped-price servicing with intervals every 12 months or every 15,000km, whichever comes first.

2023 Ford Ranger Sport – THE DRIVE

This is where the generational leap forward for this new model is most apparent; in the cabin and the way it feels on the road. It’s far easier than before to get comfortable, thanks to telescopic and height-adjustable steering. The details of the interior and geometric pattern on the leather seats, with embossed ‘Sport’ logo are subtle yet classy. The semi-digital instrument cluster has clear and concise information, including digital speedometer and animations of the vehicle on startup.

Press the steering-column mounted start/stop button and diesel bursts quietly into life. The V6 is especially quiet and refined and not just compared with the 2.0L but for a diesel outright. Once driving along, one can’t help but be impressed by the smooth and intuitive operation of the gearbox, making the most of both engine’s flexible power and torque outputs. Although there is a slight lag off the line with both engine options, this feels less pronounced than rivals and rolling acceleration makes this a responsive and predictable gap-filler in traffic. Again, it’s the V6 that attracts us most with its excellent low-end surge.

Cruising is relaxed and refined, with minimal noise interference or effort from the drivetrain. We appreciated the ‘Limit’ button on the steering wheel, which uses traffic sign recognition to stop the car from exceeding the posted speed limit, unless the accelerator is completely floored.

For something with rear leaf springs, the Ranger feels beautifully tied down – no doubt helped by the new outboard shocks. But it can step out ever-so-slightly in the wet until a well-tuned DSC quickly reigns it in. The steering is fantastic for an EPS setup, with accuracy, well-damped feel and confidence-inspiring turn-in.

Off the beaten trail, the Ranger benefits from additional underbody protection, 234mm of ground clearance and selectable drive modes, including: Normal, Eco, Tow Haul, Slippery, Mud and Sand. These proved to be effective for our adventure onto an off-road course. The previous Ranger was well-established for off-road credentials and this new model only builds on that.

The BiTurbo four-cylinder develops 154kW and 500Nm, and is rated at 7.2L/100km. Meanwhile the new 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 produces 184kW and 600Nm, and is rated at 8.4L/100km. These official economy figures seem to be close to the mark, as we achieved 8.0L/100km in the four-cylinder and 9.4L/100km in the V6.

Key differences between the two include more urge off the line from the V6, with a smoother feel and nicer sound. The additional 30kW and 100Nm are noticeable, but we still wouldn’t exactly call it a performance setup. We timed 0-100km/h in 9.26 seconds in the 2.0L, and 7.98 seconds in the V6. If you want outright power you can always go for the 292kW Raptor.

2023 Ford Ranger Sport – THE VIDEO

2023 Ford Ranger Sport – THE VERDICT

It’s sophisticated in a way that no other dual-cab ute in its class has been. It’s so well put together and elegant, but not shouty. It’s understated and modern. It’s not just good by ute standards, it’s good by car standards.

In our minds, the new Ranger has become the class benchmark for its capability and features, safety, and driving experience in all conditions and comfort. HiLux and co will have to work very hard to leapfrog this newcomer. Expect to see plenty around if supply can manage.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Advanced new cabin with excellent ergonomics
– V6 offers premium refinement
– SUV-like handling and high-speed stability
– Technology and integration thereof
– Rugged and handsome looks
– Versatile and thoughtful features in tray and cabin
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Slight delay off the line, especially the 2.0TTD
– Expensive
– Wet weather traction can be an issue
– V6 is lazier than expected[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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