Auto123 reviews the 2022 Ford Ranger (Lariat Splash version).
In the 60s and 70s, Ford earned itself the nickname Wagon Master because it dominated the wagon market. Nowadays, you could say the American manufacturer is the Pickup Master, dominating sales charts with its F-150 and offering a truck to offer to American consumers in every pickup segment, from the small Maverick for compacts to the large F-450 Super Duty, able to tow up to 24,200 lb!
However, if there's one segment where Ford hasn't managed to beat out the competition, it's the mid-size pickup category; there, its popular Ranger comes in second behind the Toyota Tacoma. In the U.S., Ford lags notably behind Toyota (in 2021 sales of the Tacoma exceeded 252,000 units while those of the Ranger sat at 94,000); in Canada, the race is tighter with 11,201 Rangers sold in Canada in 2021, compared to 14,300 Tacomas.
The figures for 2022 will be distorted somewhat by supply-chain issues, but the fighting is just as fierce. And so, the American manufacturer has just launched an all-new available version of the 2022 Ranger, the Splash. The context, however, is that Ford is also planning a new edition of the Ranger in 2023, which gets redesigned lines that make the truck looks more like the big F-150 than ever. And in fact, this redesign is already available in some parts of the world including South Africa and Australia, where the Ranger name is synonymous with great commercial success.
Ranger, a winning name for Ford
In America, the Ranger name was first applied to lower-end Edsels from 1958 to 1960, before being used to identify the higher-end Ford F-series models.
Then, in 1983, as demand for smaller pickups was gaining momentum, Ford decided to replace its then Courier (based on a Mazda product) with a new generation of so-called compact pickups called Ranger. These were very successful... at first. They were withdrawn from the market in 2012 because, in America, consumers preferred the larger F-150.
But times have changed, and the Ranger name returned to North America in 2019, this time in a mid-size format. That’s the version we currently have, and will until next year. However, before turning the page on this edition (inspired by an Australian version, but built in a Ford plant in Michigan), Ford brass wanted to mark the end by offering some distinctive finishing touches while resurrecting another name with some history, at least dating to 1993: Splash.
This Splash version of the 2022 Ranger is only available with the four-door SuperCrew cab in XLT Lariat finish and the short bed. The first series is painted in a shade of yellow (other colours will be introduced later in the year) and is equipped with 18-inch wheels painted black. Black appliqués specific to Splash are glued to the bodywork. But otherwise, it's the Ranger we know.
The interior of our test vehicle retains its original design, dominated by a simple but effective dashboard. Nothing spectacular here. The (digital) instrumentation is also simple but easy to read, even if the driver can change it as desired. The screen in the middle is not the biggest but, once again, its image is easy to read while all the controls are easy to understand. The same goes for the rotary controls for the radio and climate control beneath the screen.
The centre console harbours the mechanical shift lever and rotating electric controls for shifting from two- to four-wheel drive or regular to select work methods including towing. The steering wheel offers a good grip but its spokes are relatively busy with controls. Other controls, such as those for the windows and mirrors, are easily manipulated from the doors.
The front bucket seats are very comfortable. Gold stitching helps distinguish the Splash edition from others. The rear seats are just as remarkable, and the seats can be lifted to use the "secret" compartments that are hidden inside. Note that there is a 120-volt power outlet in the rear compartment instead of one in the bed.
The Ranger can seat five, but passengers should be warned that the steps are high (fortunately, there are handholds that can help with access). The Ranger's interior feels larger than that of its rival, the Toyota Tacoma, because the Ranger's floor is lower.