The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux have been in a topsy-turvy two-way battle for top-selling ute supremacy in Australia for some time. The Ranger is one of the few utes on the market that has consistently threatened – and at times broken – Toyota’s hold on the segment.

However, when people think of the Ranger they think of the flashy more lifestyle-oriented versions, such as the FX4 or the Wildtrak or the Raptor, because they’re the ones that get all the publicity.

But what about a cheaper, basic Ranger, much more suited to work than its higher-spec stablemates? Say, for instance, something like an entry-level 4×2 Ranger variant. Does it deserve your attention? Is it actually cut out for load-carrying duties…

Our test vehicle was a Ford Ranger XL 4×2 (rear-wheel drive) dual-cab Hi-Rider with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It has arctic white paint – any other colour, except for true red, is considered a prestige colour and costs $650.

This vehicle also did not have the optional $500 heavy-duty suspension pack, which includes new front and rear dampers, thicker rear springs with revised spring rates, and a specific ABS and ESC calibration.

This option – designed for comfort while carrying loads, Ford reckons, not to improve load-carrying ability – is available on all XL variants, except the 4×2 Low-Rider.

The MSRP for this vehicle is $40,390, includes GST.

But what does it have? Well, it has 16-inch steel wheels, cloth seats, and vinyl flooring – and not a whole lot else. But that’s perfectly suited to this ute and its main purpose: work… with a touch of play, perhaps.

It does have Ford’s SYNC3 multimedia with 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (no voice-activated controls though), as well as a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and a lift-assisted tailgate.

It does not have 4WD or Ford’s terrain management system, but it does have a rear diff lock – as do all Ranger Hi-Rider variants.

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