This test was all about towing, and although we did a road loop with no tow load, we’re just focusing on the driving experience while hauling our 2.8+ ton Avida Topaz trailer. If you’re wondering, the Ranger’s rear suspension dropped 45mm under load, while the D-Max dropped slightly more, at 50mm.
Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6
Big engine means big smiles. The Ranger Wildtrak V6 makes it easy to tow with so much mass behind, and it’s not just because of the power and torque on offer.
It’s also due to the fact that the Ranger is much quieter and more serene to drive. It can cruise along the freeway or highway, keep pace with traffic, and occupants will barely hear the big V6 engine.
Its raspy note is noticeable under acceleration, as is the transmission shifting from one gear to another as it accelerates (because there are so many gears!), but once up to speed it is soft and silent.
It might seem like a minor consideration to you, but if you’re considering a utility like this for the big trip to Australia, you might be surprised how annoying a noisy diesel engine can be after hours of driving.
That said, the transmission is quite busy, although it was smart to pick the gear it needed at any given time.
Our test route included a steep climb with a 90 km/h speed limit that drops to 70 km/h as you climb, and the Ranger did it easily all the way up.
In fact, I only applied about half throttle on the incline, the transmission having elected sixth gear as the best for this scenario, and it easily maintained 80 km/h where the D-Max struggled ( see below).
The other thing that was super impressive was how the Ranger cruised at highway speeds with no hassle. In 10th gear at 110km/h, the engine was barely running at 1500rpm. In the 100 km/h zone, he chose ninth gear and sat at about 1750 rpm.
Now, if you’re the type of person who thinks you can outsmart the transmission, you’ll probably be outsmarted by this thing’s shifter. It’s a little toggle on the gear selector, and it’s really annoying. I had a few confusing cases and tried to figure out how to get it back to normal auto mode.
But I liked that I could set it up to play with any number of gears, rather than all 10. Ford calls it Progressive Range Selection, which calibrates the transmission to lock gears – basically you can make it an eight-speed or six-speed, if you need it.
Going was no problem, but stopping could have been better. I found the braking action to be too soft at the top of the pedal, which meant it wasn’t as reassuring under braking as the D-Max. And that even takes into account the Ranger’s built-in electronic braking system.
I liked the digital display of brake gain when setting up the reaction of the brake controller, and the fact that there is a dedicated tow mode that matches the engine, transmission and even the safety systems (more about it soon) was good.
But, just like the soft pedal, the suspension might be a little too soft for some people’s tastes. I found on the country road portion of our loop that the suspension was a little too wonky and not as firm as the D-Max. Now, neither is perfect when it comes to rolling, but I actually preferred the harsh hustle of the D-Max to the spongy wobble of the Ford on our section of rough road.
As far as maneuvering goes, the Ford’s steering was pretty good. It had a bit of feel (not as much as D-Max) and light but predictable action.
Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain
If you prefer to feel really engaged with the vehicle when towing, the Isuzu will appeal to you more.
That is, you’re not that far off the mark in the D-Max. It’s a much more visceral experience.
As such, it won’t surprise you to learn that the D-Max X-Terrain’s suspension is noticeably bumpier and more responsive – you feel the road surface pushed into the cabin much more, especially on typical hailstones. , less than -perfect surfaces that abound across the country.
It’s a trait the D-Max has whether you’re towing or not, with the overall comfort not as good when it comes to ride compliance – although that’s not too bad for a double cab ute without nothing in the tub. It’s more susceptible to wind buffeting and bouncing that disrupts body control, which could be annoying to inexperienced tow drivers.
The steering is reassuring – there’s a bit more bite than in the Ranger, and so you have slightly better confidence in cornering country.
The engine has to work a lot harder than the Ranger’s, which isn’t a revelation in itself – a V6 versus four-cylinder, big power and torque drawbacks for the D-Max mean it makes perfect sense that you asked more of the engine in the Isuzu.
But what was surprising was how much louder the Isuzu was under load. It’s considerably more audible in terms of diesel ping, and you really hear what’s going on under the hood and the transmission as well.
The transmission holds the gears together and keeps the engine alive, and he was surprisingly busy between the gears considering there are only six at his disposal.
In our hill climb where the Ranger got going without any problems, the D-Max struggled to maintain momentum with traffic, dropping at 80 km / h with my foot flat on the ground in third speed. Suffice to say that no braking was necessary to bring the speed down to 70km/h at the signpost.
On the highway, the D-Max was far from comfortable at speeds over 100 km/h. At this rate it was sitting in sixth gear at 1850 rpm, although I found it to be more eager to go 90 km/h or less, which might be fine for you, but it wasn’t as suitable as the Ranger for real-world driving. scenarios.
Neither was perfect in this test, but the Ranger was more comfortable and capable than the D-Max in general terms.
|Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6||8|
|Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain||seven|