Story & photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
IF the auto industry had an award for creativity and imagination in promotions, then Ford Philippines would have been a cinch to win it.
From November 28 to 30, select members of the motoring beat were invited to join the “Ford Ranger Northern Adventure” to once again showcase why Ford’s Ranger has been the best pickup in the country, since it was launched a few years back.
The adventure began at the Ford dealership in Balintawak, where we took off in the early morning of the 28th to drive to a housing project of the Gawad Kalinga Foundation in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, which the car manufacturer supports.
The media convoy was composed of three Ford Ranger variants (two FX4s and a lone Wildtrack) loaded with a ton of cement in each of their beds. I rode shotgun with Manila Standard’s Dino Ray Directo, who drove first before I took over during the latter part of the first leg of the long journey.
I must admit, this was the very first time I had ridden and driven the Ranger, the only pickup that I haven’t reviewed yet. As a passenger with Sir Dino, it was very comfortable, with all the controls well within the reach of the driver, the black interior that included black leather seat covers lent an air of luxury inside.
The Ford Sync entertainment system is easy to connect to and use, while the six speakers sounded great playing different song genres from both our phones. What caught my attention, however, was its very powerful cooling system, which easily cooled the entire cabin in a matter of minutes, even after we left the vehicles baking in the heat of the midday sun. As we were given a warm welcome by the residents of Gawad Kalinga, who gave us a tour of their place, we then unloaded our precious cargo, which are intended to help them finish their ongoing housing projects.
The gem of an engine, a 2.2-liter four-cylinder TDCI diesel engine, rated at 160 hp and 380 N-m of torque was very powerful. It hauled the 1-ton cargo without any drama. The electronic stability control kept the pickup under control even no matter how we drove. Its power was even more evident when its bed was already empty, displaying impressive pulling power easily reaching triple-digits speed in a matter of seconds. The handling was also excellent, as at low speed it was light. As the speed picked up, however, it became firmer, making it a joy to handle at high speeds.
The suspension, as expected, was a bit bouncy when the bed was empty, but only the most sensitive of motorists will find it annoying. The unevenness of the road coupled with the suspension’s bounciness gave me an idea as to how well the vehicle was assembled.
It was so pleasant to drive that I offered to remain behind the wheel all the way to Isabela, where we spent the night before proceeding to Cagayan the following day. The next morning, we went to Tabuk in Kalinga Apayao, where we tried one of its famous attractions: white water rafting. On the way, I noticed that the fuel gauge was nearing the one-fourth mark of the fuel gauge, but upon informing the lead vehicle, we were assured that it was more than enough to get us to Tuguegarao after our Tabuk sojourn, and it was! That certainly showed another characteristic of vehicle: excellent fuel economy.
The following day our flight was unexpectedly canceled due to bad weather conditions in Tuguegarao, which left us with no choice but to once again motor back to Manila, although this time, we were just passengers in another best-selling model in Ford’s lineup in the country, the Everest, which just like its stablemate, is the only SUV in the midsize segment that I haven’t reviewed yet.
It was big, comfy and luxurious but that is another story.