The Ford Ranger, introduced locally in 1998, is one of the best-selling cars in South Africa on the new and second-hand market.
The model has been such a success for Ford that their assembly plant in Silverton, Pretoria reached the “500,000 Rangers assembled” milestone in 2018.
A look on the Ford South Africa website will also show you that the company has 32 different models on offer.
With a range spanning from the entry-level Ranger 2.2 TDCi Single Cab Base 5MT 4×2 LR at R328,000 – to the newly added, most expensive Ranger 2.0 Bi Turbo Double Cab Thunder 10AT 4×4 with a price of R811,800.
We purposefully excluded the R888,900 Ranger Raptor as the most expensive model, as it differs significantly from all other body styles and is a special variant of the Ranger – designed with a high-strength steel chassis and non-standard, race-developed Fox shock absorbers.
With the fact that the double-cab Ranger is the best-selling body style of the bakkie – according to AutoTrader CEO George Mienie – we have compared the cheapest double-cab, the Ranger 2.2 TDCi Double Cab Base 5MT 4×2 HR with a starting price of R398,700, to the most expensive option on offer – the Ranger Thunder.
A price difference of R413,700 sets them apart, and with that you can buy the base double-cab and your choice of another bakkie, if your heart so desired.
But the question remains: Is the Ranger Thunder really worth this price bump?
Let’s find out.
Looks might be subjective, but it will be difficult to find a person that thinks the baseline model looks better than the Thunder.
The Thunder receives an extensive list of options, such as: body-coloured bumpers, steel side-steps, daytime running lights, front fog lamps, accent coloured exterior mirrors and door handles, roof rails, a hoop sports bar in the rear, and a new grille design as standard.
A lot of these features were further improved with electric capabilities.
The mirrors can be electronically-adjusted, the windscreen is heated and has rain-sensing wipers, a powered tailgate lock with lift assistance is at the rear, the headlamps are automatic, and the rear-window gets a defroster.
Additionally, the Thunder package includes red detailing on its leather seats and Thunder grille, a bed-divider in the load box, a roller shutter, new black alloy wheels, and 3D Thunder nomenclature – as Ford calls it.
The standard features brochure for the base Ford Ranger is a bit thinner, and includes a black front bumper, halogen headlamps with reflectors, black exterior mirrors and handles, outer tie-downs along the sides, and a black grille.
It does not receive the same electronically-controlled features, and branding remains limited.
The higher price tag of the Ranger Thunder extends into the interior, as well.
The Ford Sync3 infotainment system is the headline of the interior with its 8-inch colour screen in the centre and two 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster that display all the information you might need.
Between the heated front leather seats you’ll find an elongated, cooled centre console with a double lid, and the driver seat is electronically adjustable in eight ways.
Three 12V power outlets are available, along with an additional 230V/150W power converter, and a rear underseat storage compartment.
More noteworthy features include:
- Lane keep systems
- Park assist systems
- Forward collision warning
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Dual zone electronic climate control
- Adaptive cruise control with heads up display
A leather steering wheel with a soft feel dashboard, and a seven-colour ambient lighting system, is included as a finishing touch.
The interior features in the baseline model are not as extensive, but it does have some standard options that are seen as “nice-to-haves” in other vehicles.
It has central locking, a shorter centre console and a 12V power plug is installed up front, and the radio system has Bluetooth connectivity.
The seats in this model are made of fabric and are manually adjustable along with the mirrors and air-conditioning system, while rear underseat storage is available.
For the Thunder, power comes from a 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine that’s connected to a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
This combination produces 157kW and a staggering 500Nm of torque, giving it a claimed fuel efficiency of 7.8l/100km and allowing it a braked towing capacity of 3,500kg.
A list of standout features for the Thunder are:
- Trailer sway control
- Roll-over mitigation
- Adaptive load control
- Parallel parking assist
- Hill descent and hill launch assist
Ford fitted a larger 4-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, in the baseline model – but it doesn’t get turbos and subsequently has a lower output.
It produces 88kW of power and 285Nm of torque, giving it a claimed fuel efficiency of 8.6l/100km and a braked towing capacity of 1,500kg.
Both these vehicles come with the same standard suspension, so ride height will be equal.
Warranty and service plans on both vehicles are also identical and include a 4-year/120,000km warranty, a 6-year/90,000km service plan, roadside assistance for 3-years/unlimited kilometres, and a 5-year/unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty.