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Ford PH offers a taste of the off-roading capabilities of the next-gen Ranger and Everest 4×4 in specially designed course

Ranger photo by Joseph Javellana, Everest photo by Ardie Lopez

I am so over the moon with my 10-year driver’s license, which I just renewed recently. I aced the online exam, and had no on-street violations in my record to drag me down.

But my max-validity license doesn’t mean I know everything there is to know about driving, especially in situations that put the “un” in “unpredictable”. I remember those times when I was driving on the notorious Halsema Highway between Baguio City and Sagada (when it was still largely unpaved, and ridiculously narrow). When you’re face-to-face with an oncoming bus, and you both have to find a way to squeeze into a stretch of road scraped off a mountainside and which looks like it was intended just for motorbikes or trikes, and one miscalculation could send either of you plummeting down a thousand-foot ravine, the last thing on your panicking mind is how unblemished your driver’s license is, believe me.

You don’t even have to go to such lengths as to drive all the way to the mountain provinces to realize that your license doesn’t mean anything should you decide poorly in certain situations. Here in Metro Manila, heavy rains can turn familiar streets into dangerous rivers. Faced with a flooded street after a severe downpour, would you dare cross it? The point is, anything can happen when you’re on the road. Your experience and knowhow help you manage the constantly varying road situations. The kind of vehicle you drive, and the shape it’s in, also helps. Those things are what you can have control of.

Speaking of being in control, I had a feel of the next-generation Ford Ranger and Everest last July 28 at a specially designed track in ArcoVia in Pasig City. The twin launch-cum-track day that ushered in the Ford Island Conquest experiential test drive event featured a multi-surface course in an open field that would present different challenges to the Ranger and Everest and showcase its capabilities. In other words, this was an off-road course right in the middle of the urban jungle.

This four-day event had close to 200 members of the motoring media, various car clubs, dealers, bank partners, and motoring enthusiasts taking turns driving the new Ranger pickup and Everest SUV and taking on the course challenges designed with the help of off-road champion Larry Mendiola, with ride-and-drive planning expert Georges Ramirez supervising the course guides. The challenges were said to simulate various environments that motorists would encounter in their daily lives, either for work or for play.

Though a valid driver’s license was required in order for us to have a go at the course, it virtually meant nothing when we took on the challenges. The ArcoVia track was a good example of the unpredictability of offroad driving, and the wildly different set of skills and knowhow required to master this discipline.

Anytime an adventurous soul wants to go off the beaten path, the risk of encountering a trip-ending obstacle increases. Every turn can literally mean the end of the road. What the five Ranger Wildtrak 4×4 and five Everest Titanium 4×4 units offered that day, however, was the chance for its risk-taking owners to be more in control of such situations, and to ultimately have the ending to a road trip the way they pictured it in their minds.

To that end, the new Ranger and Everest 4×4 versions have been equipped with the latest in offroading tech, that makes them more capable, safer, and easier to handle when the going gets rough and tough.

Photo by Alvin Uy

I found them out myself when I had my turn at the Ranger Wildtrak 4×4. By the way, all the units here weren’t modified in any way, so buyers of the new Ranger and Everest 4×4 variants will essentially get the same setup as was used in this course.

First challenge was what I would call “the tilt”, and I was made to drive over the spot where the pickup tilted to one side between 15 and 18 degrees. Not to worry, said my course guide who was with me on board, these vehicles can tilt up to 25 degrees. Imagine if you were driving on a dry riverbed strewn with large boulders, and one side of the Ranger goes over a large one, or if a narrow mountain pass forces one side of the pickup to crawl up the mountainside. That tilt capability would come in really handy.

The next one was the “mud wallow”, which tested the drivability and comfort of the Ranger even in deep mud. Imagine you going to a countryside farm during the rainy season, and the only access to that farm would be an unpaved, muddy backroad. It looks like you won’t sweat it on board this Ranger.

The third one, which I would consider the most relevant to most motorists nowadays, was the “water wade.” Here, the Ranger was made to go through up to 800mm-deep standing water—the maximum listed wading depth of the vehicle—on crawl speed. Water wading would certainly be an offroader’s most often encountered obstacle. Imagine how many river crossings you would need to take in a typical day-long tour, especially now during the rainy season.

The last challenge, which was also the trickiest one, was the “hill climb” on an improvised steel frame. But it wasn’t your regular molehill. At a height of nearly 4 meters (over 12 feet) and a climb incline of 29 degrees and 31 degrees on the way down, all I could see from my windshield was the sky on the way up, and the landing below, on the way down. Thanks to the humongous 12-inch touchscreen in the center stack showing the path ahead in crystal-clear resolution, I still had my “eyes on the road.” Also, the hill start assist and hill descent control features kicked in at just the right times.

What’s an offroad obstacle course without some practical props? To approximate the feel of an active, adventurous motoring lifestyle, the Ranger was loaded with 8 sacks of cement, construction materials, fruits and vegetables and luggage, along certain portions of the course.

In the “Eskinita” portion, I had the chance to appreciate the 360-degree-view camera. At the auto parking demo, the Ranger showed how parking in tight spaces was made easy. By the end of the course, I had a more concrete picture of the new Ranger and Everest being “tough on the outside, sanctuary on the inside, amazing capability underneath.” Indeed, the proof of the pudding is in the, well, tilting, wading, muddying, and climbing.

More features yet to be discovered

What can you discover with just a short drive in a features-packed pickup? It turns out, a lot. Yet, plenty more about the Ranger, in particular, is to be discovered. Beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase 50mm longer and a track 50mm wider than the previous Ranger. With new fenders and larger wheel arches, the next-gen Ranger has a more dramatic, progressive, sculpted appearance, with a dramatic swell over the wheels that comes from a strong shoulder line that runs from front to back, enhancing the strong and modern look.

The Everest, on the other hand, has a soft spot for those who have parking (and driving lane) anxiety: Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and Lane Centering, Lane Keeping System with Road Edge Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Evasive Steer Assist and Reverse Brake Assist, the works.

The next-generation Ranger shares Ford’s global truck design DNA. The design features a defined new grille and signature C-clamp headlight treatment at the front while a subtle shoulder line down the sides incorporates new wheel-arches design that gives Ranger a sure-footed stance. Ford boasts that for the first time, the next-gen Ranger is equipped with matrix LED headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting System for the Wildtrak 4×4 variant. Consistent with the look in front, the LED taillamps clamp onto the new tailgate, now proudly stamped with the Ranger badge.

No less than Ford Philippines managing director Mike Breen, a self-confessed “plantito,” demonstrated the usefulness of the rear of the Everest. Ford Philippines now boasts of a 5-year warranty on these next-gen vehicles. That, or a total mileage of up to 150,000 km, whichever comes first.

For more details on the Ford Island Conquest and the next-gen Ford vehicles, please visit https://www.ford.com.ph/events/ford-island-conquest/

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