There’s a reason there’s so many Ford Rangers are on the roads, not only in South Africa, but worldwide – they’re just damn good. What I like about the range available here in SA is that there quite literally is a Ranger model for everyone. In the upper echelons of the model range, the one with all the bells & whistles is the Ranger Wildtrak, and while they can be optioned with some cool things, some prospective buyers want more. The thing is, these bakkies generally leave nothing wanting, so to sway those fence-sitters who are thinking of buying a new bakkie or wanting to level up their current Ranger, buyers can get exclusivity via a limited edition styling and feature package complete with bespoke nomenclature - built right here in South Africa. In fact, it’s the current model Ranger’s 10th anniversary, a very successful one at that with over half a million of them exported.
The last limited edition Ranger, the Ranger Thunder did great in the market with well over 2000 units sold in the 12-months it was produced. After getting up close with the new Ranger Stormtrak, we’re positive it will be just as, if not even more successful during it’s limited production run. With ethe focus on visuals. Attention was paid to enough of the exterior to be able to identify this as a Stormtrak, and a you can see, the results are great. Starting up front the Stormtrak gets a black mesh grille with red inserts, it gives quite an imposing look and make it look more, well, American-looking. This look is aided by the black insert in the lower section of the bumper too. There’s gloss black 18-inch wheels and these make the black decals and black roof rails just work, no matter the body colour, of which there are four available. It’s a hard choice between the new Lucid Red paint and the typically Ford colour, Blue Lightning. There’s also Frozen White and Sea Grey available. The new 3D Stormtrak logo looks at home on all the colours too.
Round back is where the value is seen and the list price makes sense. Included with the Ranger Stormtrak is the aptly-named Power Roller Shutter. So not only does that load bin shutter look good, but it’s also sturdy and electronically controlled. Thanks to being controlled by a powerful electric motor, the shutter can be locked in any position, and in case you’re showing off the system to mates after a brannas or two, there’s a built-in Anti-Pinch feature so you don’t squash limbs or priceless cargo. The system can be activated from the cabin, inside the load bin and even from the key fob – that’s pretty rad. Added to the shutter, they’ve also included an adjustable bed divider kit that makes it easy compartmentalise the cargo area to better suit the load and stop kak flinging all over the place when you drive the Stormtrak like it’s a Raptor. It includes a 12-volt socket to power accessories when you’re messing about in the rear.
The cabin has typical Wildtrak vibes – it’s rather upmarket but not so much so that you wouldn’t want to take the thing properly off-road. Being this comfortable while traversing off-road trails is the way it should be. To make it a Stormtrak, there’s some very comfortable and good-looking, red-stitched leather seats complete with the Stormtrak logo on the seat backs. The red stitching doesn’t stop there, it runs throughout the cabin on the dash, steering wheel, and shifter. The rest of the stuff is pretty much Wildtrak with Ford’s Sync-3 infotainment and nav system, and the cool FordPass system with functionality allowing for loads of remote control via the FordPass app. It’s a really good selling point, a super handy system that all manufacturers should aim to adopt. Then there’s the usuals like Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Alert with Lane Keeping Aid, Driver Alert System, Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist. As I mentioned, there really is nothing missing from the car, you won’t even need aftermarket audio because the stock system plays well, like really well. So many parts of the Karoo were subjected to my awesome YouTube Music playlists.
Being the one of the boss larneys, the Ranger Stormtrak sees fitment of Ford’s cracking 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel lump that makes a healthy 157kW with a massive 500Nm of torque – a reason it can tow 3500kg with ease. The 10-speed automatic transmission is a favourite of mine, it’s so silky smooth and shifts the Stormtrak into the right rev range for every situation at speed. To make sure we experienced this, the folk from Ford South Africa plotted the most amazing route to not only experience the Ranger Stormtrak, but the beauty of this country of ours. We started the great trek from Gqeberha (the old Port Elizabeth just in case you haven’t kept up with the news) along a route that included that amazing Baviaanskloof Pass and plenty kilometres on dusty Karoo roads.
The roads weren’t high-level off-road for the most part, nothing that needed 4-low, but the Ranger Stormtrak was just so damn comfortable and easy to drive that you become oblivious to the fact that the same roads and passes in a lesser vehicle would be an absolutely kak time. Kicking down some stretches of the Karoo sand roads that haven’t seen proper rain in 7 or 8 years kick up so much dust, that when the wind was at its lowest you’d need a good 500m gap between the Rangers in the convoy so you could see where you’re going, and even then it wasn’t bad because we were able to kick it at tar road speeds on gravel with adaptive cruise control doing all the work. The only way for some of the rougher corrugated roads to feel even smoother in the cabin would be to pilot a Ranger Raptor. To add to the lifelong memories created on the drive, part of our route was a road through Addo Elephant Park. These Stormtraks must have something special because we saw elephant, buffalo and lion within 5 minutes. Just awesome.
These Rangers are great, and this Stormtrak edition is definitely one to take a gander at if you’re shopping for a premium bakkie that can do everything while standing out from the rest. Considering what you get, the pricing is spot on for its place in the segment. The Ford Ranger Stormtrak can be had in a 4x2 guise, starting at R790 300, and the top dog 4x4 version lists at R846 500. They all come standard with Ford Protect’s 4-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. There’s also a 6-year/90 000km service plan included to covers six services (15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first). For waaaay more info you can dead on over to the www.ford.co.za website.
More pics from the trip and our amazing country