TRADING UP

DAN PICKS UP A NEW RANGER, BUT THAT WAS THE EASY PART. NOW THE FUN BEGINS.

WORDS AND PHOTOS DAN EVERETT

FORD PXII RANGER XLT 4X4 SHED 078 DATE ACQUIRE D: DEC 2016 PRICE: $59,000 KM THIS MONTH: 3500KM AV FUEL: 9.9L/100KM 0 2 0 7 5 0 9 KM

DAN PICKS UP A NEW RANGER, BUT THAT WAS THE EASY PART. NOW THE FUN BEGINS.

ITíS NO secret I like old 4x4s. Over the years Iíve treated countless neighbours to the aural pleasure of me yelling at whatever the latest nugget was in my driveway, pumping the throttle, juggling the choke with surgeon-like precision and going through the full start-up routine just to drive to the shops for a sneaky lunch kebab.

I still love them, and always will. But with my sights set on some remote travel over the next 18 months, the idea of tuning a carb on the side of the track because of a slight altitude change didnít exactly hold the appeal it did back when I was 18.

I searched under the lounge for all the spare change I could muster up and forged Mattís signature for a loan application, then went looking at new 4x4s. The short list was narrowed down to an SR5 Hilux for the reliability and dealer network, an NP300 Navara for its aggressive styling and coil spring rear, or an XLT PXII Ranger for its physically larger size and bigger engine.

After driving all back-to-back, I settled on the Ranger. Sure, I have a few reliability concerns, but I do a heap of towing, so the longer wheelbase and gruntier engine pushed it across the line.

Despite only picking it up a few days before Christmas, sheís already ticked over 20,000km with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The XLT came with a bunch of options I wanted for on- and off-road use, as the whole point of the Ranger was to rack up kays and get me to places I couldnít trust the 60 with. It picked up a factory rear locker, adaptive cruise control, and a heap of tech features that keep the missus and kids happy, too.

Iíd always shied away from new cars because, well, theyíre boring. The Ranger is no different, but thatís kind of the appeal to it. Itís done a few trips up and down the east coast now and doesnít require anything more than a quick fluid-level check before hitting the road. Iíve punted it along the Coffs Coast, effortlessly traversed the Pebbly Beach crossing, slipped and slid sideways through South East Queensland mud, and lugged more trailers around than you could shake a grey cardigan at Ė and Iíve barely even started modifying it.

Over the next few months Iíll start swiping the credit card to get it a little more outback-ready, then just sit back while the odometer ticks over. As long as it doesnít require me to do any work on it, Iíll be laughing.