When a demo unit is lent out to us, it’s usually the top-of-the-line variant with all the bells and whistles combined with a similarly princely price tag. And that’s good for reviews because we could show you what you would get if you bothered spending just a little more for a certain model. But for me, there are exceptions to that rule. One of them is the Ford Ranger XLT.
There was a time when the XLT was the alpha male in Ford’s pickup range. It had the bigger engine, the optional four-wheel drive, and a choice of automatic gearbox or manual transmission. That’s not the case, these days. In fact, the XLT you see here sits near the bottom of the Ranger’s pecking order—just above the fleet-spec XLS. While I didn’t specifically request for this particular variant when Ford lent out vehicles for our use at an out-of-town media event, I was glad that it was the one assigned to me.
You see, I have a thing for base-variant trucks. I have this vision of doing up a poverty-spec pickup with aftermarket extras as there are quite a few upmarket trim levels whose additional toys I don’t really like (that includes the Wildtrak—sorry, Ford). The Ranger XLT isn’t filled to the brim with features, but the Blue Oval has thankfully kitted it out in a way that this thing can stand proud next to the FX4, the Wildtrak and, yes, even the Raptor.
The 17-inch wheels are painted black now, which I think is a pretty good match for this XLT demo unit’s dark gray finish. There is a resounding and refreshing absence of chrome, save for the two “nostrils” on the Ranger’s updated radiator grille and some of the badges. It doesn’t even have a sports bar, which just robs the load bed of precious space. If there is one thing that I would’ve liked it to have, it’s LED running lights on the halogen headlamps.
Even the cab is pleasantly spartan, too. There is no gaudy jewelry that disturbs the monochrome theme. I don’t even care that the seats are fabric because in a vehicle without window tint, leather upholstery becomes a rather effective heat conductor. I like the fact that the XLT is equipped with the old-school gauges as they are much more satisfying to look at than the dual-LCD cluster in more expensive trim levels. However, I am thankful that Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on all Rangers.
Ever since the launch of the T6-series Ranger back in 2012, the 2.2-liter Duratorq turbodiesel has been there. Start it up and it doesn’t really sound like any other diesel engine. The unusual rumble is comforting, though, as my family had an Everest with the same engine for almost five years. With 158hp and 385Nm, it’s not the gutsiest oil-burner around. But there are plenty of Rangers and Everests with this powerplant, so spare parts should be easy to find.
This Ranger’s platform has been around for nearly a decade, but it is still surprisingly one of the more comfortable trucks you can drive unladen. You still bounce around over bumps, but the unpleasant jiggle is almost nonexistent. The latter is what normally annoys me when riding pickups, so not having it means I don’t feel nauseous especially after a big meal. Furthermore, I’ve always liked the driving position in the Ranger (and the Everest). The view out the front is commanding, and the seats have very decent thigh support.
I am particularly fond of the Ranger’s truck bed. Aside from the absence of a sports bar, it has lights that can illuminate the load area, and there are tie-down points on each of the corners. I especially like how Ford was able to turn the bed into a place that can be used for more than carrying heavy stuff. At the rear corners and on the tailgate, there are cutouts for drink cans, water bottles and small food containers so you can park underneath a shaded area and have a relaxing lunch at the back of your truck.
The Ranger XLT is one of those vehicles that didn’t leave me wanting for more than what it already offers. It doesn’t have flashy decals or fancy chrome bits or the high-tech 2.0-liter engine with the 10-speed gearbox of lavishly equipped Rangers. As a practical family car and a dependable workhorse, the XLT has everything I need with none of the posh extras. And with a starting price of P1,330,000 (adjusted for safeguard duties), I save quite a bit of money as well.
FORD RANGER XLT 4X2 AT
|2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel
|158hp @ 3,200rpm
|385Nm @ 1,600-2,500rpm
|5,354mm x 1,860mm x 1,821mm
|It has all the basics that you’ll ever need for a reasonable asking price.
|If you need four-wheel drive, you have to get the more expensive FX4.