Ford Ranger wins Best Dual-Cab Ute over $50K

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Car Of The Year

Ford Ranger, the 2023 Drive Car of the Year holds onto its title as the Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute over $50K

The appeal and popularity of utes in Australia is unwavering – and only appears to be growing stronger. As we (the Australian buying public) spend more and more of our hard-earned money on utes, car makers are turning these once-simple workhorses into something more sophisticated, luxurious, and appealing.

However, there is a trick here. While mod-cons, prestige and technology are now par for the course in this part market segment, these vehicles still need to be strong and effective four-wheel drive utes. That means capability and practicality need to be well accounted for. 

Playing both sides of the street – often when they are diametrically opposed – is no mean feat. And the gap between being a competent jack-of-all-trades and a compromised pile is thin.

Last year’s winner of this segment, the Ford Ranger, went on to win overall honours in Drive Car of the Year 2023. Naturally, it’s going to take some beating this year.

The biggest threats to the Ranger this year are surprisingly close to home, with the Volkswagen Amarok, which was co-developed with Ford as part of a model-sharing agreement, offering touch competition. So too, the Ranger’s bigger sibling, the US-built and locally RHD-converted F-150 leans heavily on the Ramger’s recipe for success.

Winner: Ford Ranger

Drive’s pick: Ford Ranger Sport V6 from $70,090 MSRP

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Ford Ranger key facts:

  • Priced from $36,880 to $89,190 (range)
  • 5-year warranty
  • 7.6-11.5L/100km consumption (claimed)

Why the Ford Ranger won:

  • High levels of safety and technology
  • Very refined and enjoyable driving  experience, for the segment
  • Loads of smart, practical touches for everyday usage

Despite having some closely related competition breathing down its neck, the Ford Ranger was able to shine once again in 2024.

This is a testament to the high level of engineering and development that went into this generation of Ford Ranger – most of which was carried out in Australia. 

This is no small feat, either. While the Ranger has always had a strong pedigree in its ute segment for some years now, last year was the first time a four-wheel-drive ute was able to claim the overall gong.

One major appeal of the new Ranger is the high level of technology available. Along with a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the Ranger is bristling with just about every safety acronym one could want. 

And perhaps more importantly this technology integrates well with day-to-day use. 

And while there are healthy payload levels available across the range, the Ranger is one of the better in the segment for the overall driving experience. No ute with a good payload rides salubriously, but the suspension of the Ranger has been tuned to minimise the jiggles and jolts as much as possible.

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Loaded performance is good, and the amount of stability and control you get on dirt roads is quite impressive. 

Available exclusively with diesel power and automatic transmissions, buyers can choose between two 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines and a relatively new 3.0-litre V6.

The smaller engines – which are either single-turbo or twin-turbocharged – perform well, but it’s the more muscular V6 that feels the best and is our pick of the range. It’s more comfortable as a long-range highway cruiser but also feels much better when loaded up and put to work.

Along with being a competent daily driver, the Ranger gets a 3500kg braked towing capacity and good standard off-road capability. There’s a locking rear differential standard on all four-wheel-drive models, and a well-tuned (and selectable, in some grades) off-road traction control system to help progress in tough conditions. 

Some models get a more rudimentary part-time four-wheel drive system with shift-on-the-fly capability, the clutch-based selectable 4×4-auto system on higher grades of Ranger is of great benefit for driving on wet bitumen, dirt, gravel, and grass.

As we have indicated, the Ranger feels at its best with a diesel V6 under the bonnet. And because is one of the most technologically advanced and polished utes available, we think it’s worth looking at the Ranger Sport specification as a starting point, but for buyers who want even more, the premium Wildtrak and Platinum models help bridge the gap between workhorse and premium family car.

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Drive Car of the Year – Every category, every winner

Find out everything you need to know about all the Drive Car of the Year 2024 category winners at our DCOTY content hub.


Drive Car of the Year 2024

All the categories, all the winners – Drive Car of the Year 2024

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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