Viewed only as hard-working utilitarian machines in bygone days, double-cab bakkies have become family-friendly leisure vehicles, now as commonly used for the daily school run or family road trip as they are for towing or tackling harsh, unforgiving terrain.
These tough hi-riders are top-sellers in South Africa, especially those built on home turf. The locally assembled Ranger is a firm favourite and the Ranger Thunder, a limited-edition Ranger Wildtrak with added features, is Ford’s latest addition to its Ranger line-up. Offered in 4x2 and 4x4 variants with two powertrains, the Thunder brings added sportiness and style to the popular Ranger range.
finweek put the Ford Ranger Thunder 2.0-litre BiT 4x4 10-speed automatic through its off-road and on-road paces.
An imposing look with interior comfort
The Thunder’s face, with its prominent grille featuring red-ringed ‘nostrils’, exudes a menacing presence. The chunky ebony body is punctuated by red accents, with thunder badging on the doors and tailgate; the 18-inch alloy wheels, mudflaps, footplate and load box roller shutter are dressed in black. Thunder detailing is carried through to the interior, where styling, fit and finish has been jazzed up. It lends the Thunder’s cabin a polished, yet sporty feel.
The driver’s seat is power adjustable, and the driver and front passenger get to keep their derrières warm with heated seats. There are premium bits aplenty. Standard kit includes power windows, rain-sensing wipers, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, and multiple USB ports – one of which is a very handy port located in the rear view mirror for dashcam hook up. And connecting a smartphone and accessing Apple CarPlay is a seamless affair.
Also standard is a range of driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and autonomous emergency braking. It’s a far cry from the unpretentious bakkies of yesteryear.
Space-wise it’s family-friendly, able to accommodate five passengers more than comfortably. There’s serious rear legroom and the roomy rear also features a 12V power point and Isofix for securing child seats.
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