Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking; “what the heck is WomenStuff doing reviewing a bakkie?” Much like braaing, rugby, and scratching your unmentionables, some things are better left to the boys, but every now and then the WomenStuff team also likes to get kick it with the boys so when Ford invited us test out their latest Ford Ranger we jumped at the chance to get our tiny lady hands on the rugged beast. Sure, bakkies are thought of as being rough, tough and practical but the new Ford Ranger made us think again – maybe this whole 4×4 business isn’t just for the boys?

I like to think of the new Ford Ranger 2016 as a bit of a ladies man – you know the type who is happiest talking crap in front of the braai but still manages to woo all the ladies on his regular trips to the kitchen to refresh his beer. It’s a brashly beautiful machine and we couldn’t help but fall in love with it. There are two models that we got to peruse – the new Ranger base model with various sizes and add-ons (the XL, XL Plus, XLS, and XLT) and the real star of the show, the Wildtrak.

Aside from unique colour options, the Wildtrak stands out with its 18-inch alloy wheels, titanium grille and bumper insert, black door and tailgate handles, puddle lamps on the mirrors and front park sensors for the front and rear Park Assist. This is a bakkie for the new generation of Ford drivers. While some may think bakkies and pick-ups are all exterior grunt and no real sophistication, you’d be dead wrong. The technology set on the new Wildtrak is particularly impressive – advanced driver aids include Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert and heads-up display, Lane Keeping Aid with Lane Departure Warning, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System and 230v power inverter. We tested out these features on the road, with the softness and silent-nature of the vehicle being particularly noticeable. It’s great to feel like you’re in a safe and rugged 4×4, but without the clunking and chugging to go with it.

I got to test the car out both on the road and on the 4×4 trail and while I may not be the type of girl who is always hitting the dirt tracks, dust in my hair and the sun on my back, the Ford Ranger desperately made me want to be. Mostly because behind the wheel of this baby anyone has the potential to be an expert driver. The Ranger made tackling the 4×4 trail a breeze and at times I felt like the car didn’t even need me there. We took the Ranger on a rather demanding 4×4 track with pre-built inclines (at least 45-50 degree climbs and descents) and the Ranger managed it all without a hiccup. We were also able to climb a rather steep and challenging (and exceptionally rocky) cliff in Ceres. 

Ford Ranger 2016

The ascent was tough, but the real nail-biter was coming down, when the instructor told us to engage the advanced Hill Descent Control which would enable us to ease us down the uneven terrain without touching the clutch, accelerator, or brake. No jokes ladies, this car drove itself down the hill!

But besides all that fancy-pants 4×4 stuff, the Ranger is just a dream to drive. The steering is light, responsive and (if you buy a manual) the gears are smooth and oh-so-easy to find (no grinding necessary). I got to drive the car for hour-long stretches at a time on the roads and I barely even felt it. So, when the time comes for me to pick a new car I might just be passing straight by the cutesy little hatchback and heading for a bakkie of note.

Pricing for the new Ranger line will be announced in 2016.

First published on MenStuff.co.za.