While my home base may be in Japan, one of the coolest parts of my job as Correspondent Asia is having the chance to report on vehicles in other Asian markets in person. This week I’m in Manila and Malapascua in the Philippines, and Ford Philippines let me crawl all over the new Philippines-spec Ranger.
I was originally in the Philippines to meet with a former student of mine, and then hit some Cebu area beaches, when I met some other tourists from Germany and England after walking around the old Intramuros Spanish fortress in the center of Manila. As it got too hot, we decided to head to the Mall of Asia, where I was immediately drawn to the bright red Ford Ranger in the middle of the foyer.
“Oh, wow,” I exclaimed excitedly, “It’s a Ford Ranger! I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of these since December!” I’m sure my wild gesticulating was hilarious to my companions, but they seemed genuinely pleased that I was pleased. They opted to head to the drug store to pick up some essentials while allowing me to take photos to my heart’s content.
My first thoughts were that for a base model, which this definitely is (although it is a 4x4, and not the lower 2x4 also available), it looks pretty darn good. I wasn’t much a fan of the use of decals in the place of badges, but that’s most likely owing to the fact that most of these Rangers will end up (as they probably should) as dedicated work trucks. Otherwise, there’s not a thing I would change on the exterior.
After making the loop around the first time, the Ford representative noticed and made a bee line for me. At first I was worried, because maybe I wasn’t allowed to take photos? But he asked me gently why, and when I told him I was press and worked for Jalopnik, he became all smiles and immediately said, “Well, in that case, let me open it up and pop the hood. Feel free to photograph whatever you want. I’ve got a form here for you to sign, just write your name, your publication, and your work email, and we’ll be in touch.”
“So I can just crawl all over it?”
“Absolutely, go right ahead!”
So, you know, I did.
For a base model, I found the interior to be really spacious, yet rounded and comfortable. The plastic was obviously, well, plastic, but it didn’t feel cheap at all on the panels or the dash. Just... functional and sturdy.
I didn’t like the feel of the steering wheel very much. Probably because I am spoiled by the leather wrapped Integra Type R steering wheel that came in my GA3. But again, this is a work truck which will likely end up having lots of rough hands behind the steering wheel for potentially a lot of years. From that standpoint, the solid plastic construction of the steering wheel is probably a good call, even if it does feel a bit too much like Ford farmed out that part of the interior to Fisher-Price.
I was really impressed by the center console, which not only didn’t feel cheap, it actually felt like it should be in a higher end vehicle. The texture reminded me of the smoothness of my BMW E46 audio control buttons. And then there was the stick... While I would have to drive it to see how it felt during gear shifts, I was impressed both by the feel of the material which made up the knob and the styling of the aluminium under the knob. It seemed, at least for me, and I’m 5’11, to be in the right place for throwing shifts, given the height of the front seat.
The rear back seats were high, although the angle was a bit steep for me, feeling a bit too much like I got stuck in a lawn chair which was about to fold in on me. The height and angle did allow for plenty of leg room, and I feel like the truck easily had room for five at Filipino average body sizes. More than adequate to get a work team out onto the job site in relative comfort.
Unfortunately, I am only in Manila for another two days, and then it’s off to Cebu, so I probably won’t be able to test drive it, even though Ford seemed like they’d really be happy if I did. A darn shame. Maybe next time!
Images via Kat Callahan/Jalopnik.
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