Our love for the Ford Ranger isn't a secret. Back in September 2013, after FHM had taken one for a spin, a singular thought formed in our mind: We wanted one.
The Ford Ranger, especially the range-topping Wildtrak model, had the heart of a good, old-fashioned pickup truck but the looks of a well-dressed modern man. And both of these traits were in display at the Ford Ranger Tailgate Challenge, held last July 22 and 23 in Zambales. When the invite from Ford arrived, we couldn't wait to get a taste of the Ranger experience all over again.
Just like the last time, the Ranger delivered a thrilling drive—one that started at Ford Balintawak, then pierced through a stormy stretch on NLEX and SCTEX, snaked its way past tricycles on provincial roads, and made easy work of the muddy, water-logged paths at Zambawood in San Narciso, Zambales, the endpoint.
The "Ranger Tailgate Squad" was divided into six pairs, each pair driving a different Ranger variant from the basic 2.2L manual model all the way to the top-of-the-line Wildtrak 3.2L automatic trim. So what new things did we learn to love about the Ford Ranger from this drive? Here are some of them...
1) A well-built pickup gives you a sense of security on the highway
Ford's press release regarding the Ranger's safety goes:
"Determined to be a leader in providing optimum safety for its drivers and passengers, the truck’s advanced safety protection begins with a highly protective body structure that utilizes high-strength steel throughout. This aims to protect occupants in a collision, along with the all-new frame that helps manage the brunt of crash energy."
We're not smart enough here to describe the alloys or the metals they used in making the car, but on instinct alone, we could tell that the Ranger is a tough beast.
Sharing the highways with trucks and other bigger vehicles, a lesser car might tremble. But with the Ranger, you get this feeling that you can run securely with the big boys. Even at high speeds, the car remained stable, and secure—and rarely, if ever, did we feel rattled when a huge 18-wheeler came side-by-side. Its heft and presence surely must have something to do with that.
2) The Ranger is one fast pickup truck
Even with the Ranger's size (official stats put it at 5,351-mm long and 1,848-mm wide), it's still pretty darn speedy. It picks up momentum in a jiffy (great for overtaking trikes in the province!) and can eat through long stretches of roads like an extra hungry Pac-man.
The 2.2L Ranger Wildtrak 4x2 variant achieves peaks torque output of 375 Nm and power out of 150 hp. The 3.2L Wildtrak, on the other hand, delivers 470 Nm of torque and power rated at 200 hp. Class-leading numbers—and our experience confirms it. The car gains speed fast, offers smooth shifting, and yet, is fuel-efficient. Notably, the Ranger is also one of the few pickups that offers a six-speed transmission.
For the three or so hours it took us to get to San Narciso, Zambales (about 180 kilometers from Manila), the fuel gauged only dropped by a little over one-fourth.
3) Doing the grocery instantly becomes a manlier task if you're hauling your goods in the Ranger
Part of the Ford Tailgate challenge was a burger cook-off among the six teams, which included a "buy-your-own-secret-ingredients" grocery segment.
Apart from realizing just how many kinds of cheeses there are, we also learned that doing the grocery becomes a whole lot manlier when you're hauling stuff into a pogi pickup. Chicks dig that (we think).
4) Making a burger is indeed manly business
FHM has always been like "Hey dude, if you're a real man, you should know how to properly grill burgers." We have a confession though: We aren't exactly burger-making experts ourselves.
We are, however, improvisation experts. With our bare hands, we made lamas the giniling, mixed in whatever tasty-looking sauce we could get our hands on, Googled a secret ingredient (Tarragon leaves are apparently tasty), and...prayed we didn't cause food poisoning. Here's our final product, made with our partner, Topgear.com.ph's Associate Editor, Dinzo Tabamo.
Next up: an FHM burger resto.