Driving the new Ford Ranger in South Africa

Wednesday April 24 2019


By Mpoki Thomson

Growing up, I’d always watch race cars on television. Back then, Michael Schumacher was at the helm.

For some reason race cars fascinated me, they gave me such an adrenaline rush. As a young boy I’d race around the neigbourhood in dirt strolling wooden toy cars. These were moments that made me feel alive – oh how I cherished to one day be on the real race tracks.

Fast forward to today, I own a 2006 Subaru Legacy B4 2.0 GT. It’s a fine piece of machine, and for the few months I’ve owned it, I never thought I’d want to trade it for any other car.

But that was about to change. Last week I got an opportunity to travel to George, South Africa for the launch of the new series of Ford Ranger. Anyone familiar with this series of Ford cars, knows that they are the opposite of sports cars – the Ford Ranger is a midsize pickup truck.

I had never driven a pickup truck before, not that I didn’t want to, but the opportunity had never presented itself, or maybe I never presented myself to the opportunity, anyways, I digress.

Anyone with a keen interest with driving will attest to the eagerness to tryout different cars just for the thrill of it.


My first experience driving a pickup track was to come in the most amazing way imaginable.

My journey started from Dar es Salaam, where I reside. I had to travel to George, South Africa through Johannesburg.

It was a three-hour flight from Julius Nyerere International Airport to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Jo’burg. I arrived in the late evening hours and had to spend the night at one of the hotels at the airport before my connecting flight the next morning.

An exciting experience awaited as darkness set in. Soon, it was dawn, I only had about 3 hours to prepare for my connecting flight to George.

Little is known about this coastal town tucked away in the Western Cape side of South Africa.

When the plane landed just a little over an hour later, it felt like I was in another part of the world. With slightly warm midday weather, George is reminiscent of a beautiful small island that has plenty to offer.

The Ford team was already on-ground to receive a group of over twenty journalists from different parts of the African continent who were there specifically for the launch of the new series of Ford Ranger.

While this was my first time attending such an occasion, some of the journalists were repeat attendants.

At the George airport our luggage was loaded on to a Ford transit van while we [the journalists] boarded different Ford cars and made our way to Oubaai Hotel in Herolds Bay.

That evening we got a chance to sit down with the Ford team over some drinks and snacks at one of the hotel’s restaurants.

of our test drive the following day, that evening we were availed to a brief presentation on the new range of cars that were being launched.

The new Ranger for 2019 features an extensive range of mechanical, technological, feature and comfort upgrades.

Leisure-oriented pick-up customers have plenty to drool over as the new line-up will make the Ranger an even more compelling choice for them.

The ‘tough track’ image that is associated with the Ranger is complemented by the fresh exterior and interior design cues. Ranger’s established reputation for supreme safety, convenience and comfort, is enhanced by adoption of new technologies.

The XLT and Ranger Wildtrak are some of the Ford Ranger series that embody the ‘Built Ford Tough’ heritage and are performing exceptionally well in Sub Saharan Africa.

Our test drive saw us put the new Ranger through its on-road and off-road paces. Driving the Wildtrak and XLT through the picturesque George area, in South Africa, the comfort on-road made the long journey seem swift.

Those who are used to being stuck in the intense Dar traffic during long commutes, know that having a comfortable car can make a huge difference. The Wildtrak and XLT provide the right amount of comfortability that stays consistent even when off-road.

We tested the Ranger’s toughness as we drove up and down the mountains in George. The tough terrains were no match for the powerful off-road presence asserted by the cars. Both variants also made highway driving an absolute pleasure.

I started off by driving the Wildtrak before moving on to the XLT. Both cars, while sharing some similar qualities and capabilities, have slight differences in the interior and exterior designs.

When it comes to the interior, the Wildtrak’s updated interior delivers a more upscale, sporting appeal featuring dark-satin chrome elements, a gloss-finish decorative spear and upscale partial-leather seats embossed with Wildtrak graphics.

The seats have also been redesigned to be both sportier and more luxurious, incorporating additional leather content, ‘Mettle’ carbon-like weave accents and ‘Saber Orange’ stitching.

With the launch of the Wildtrak and XLT, The Ford Ranger continues to rewrite the rulebook by introducing trend-setting technologies to the pick-up segment.

Email: mpkthomson5@gmail.com