September 29, 2011

Electronics galore

Ranger has more electronic aids than you can shake an acronym at and brings to ute owners the full suite of gizmos that owners of mid-price and above cars have enjoyed for some years. Good on them for that. The off-road electronics are the best I have encountered. Ford took us up some steep, hairy and loose trails in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia and the traction control responded with a degree of easy precision that I’ve never before experienced. It was so good, and worked so well without having to pump-on acceleration to get it going, that not once did we have to resort to the rear locker (see below). You might think hill descent control (HDC) would be pointless on a diesel, particularly a manual diesel, but it isn’t. We went along a number of trails that could easily be driven in high range, yet with some really steep downhills that would have required either low range, lots of brake, or maybe both. With the HDC (you can leave it on, ready to work when needed), the driver can head into the descent and let the electronics do it all. The rate of descent can be altered by the driver. My favourite way was via the cruise control switches on the steering wheel. Like all good HDCs, Ranger’s also works with the box in neutral. It takes a bit of guts to try this on a really steep descent, but man does it work well.

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