USED CAR TEST: FORD RANGER WILDTRAK

Most motoring media do not delve into the realm of the used or pre-owned vehicle market. And there are good reasons for that. Mainly, used cars are all different. Sure you may source two of the exact same vehicle, but they are completely different. They have different mileage, usage history, maintenance history, and so on. Two new cars on the other hand, are simpler and easier to review because when they come off the assembly line they are virtually identical, making it fair to run comparisons. So we tend to stay away from the used car scene.

When Ford offered me the Ranger Wildtrak with over 55 000km on it I was a bit apprehensive. For the average person this could be considered fairly new, even though it would be about two to three years old already. We normally don’t test drive cars with over 10 000km on them. Heading for Eagle Ford in Bramley, Johannesburg I wondered what condition the vehicle would be in. We pulled into the main security gate and drove up to the Used Car section where a lot of vehicles stand parked under protective cover. A man walks past as I start to browse the lot. He greets, offers me a drink and asks how he can assist me. Turns out he’s a salesman. And there I was thinking my natural charms are finally working on someone.

I let him know that I am looking for Obi and he points me to an office where I am welcomed again. Obi, a tall hefty young man offers a smile and a drink. Only because I had a heavy breakfast just recently, I politely decline. He then introduces me to his world.

I never realised that a place like Eagle Ford offers so much to its customers. For instance, when you buy a car there you automatically earn a lifetime of free carwashes. As long as you keep bringing that car over, they will wash it for free. No more ever paying for a carwash. Apparently the Eagle Ford customer base becomes like family over time.

I’m told about Ford Approved, which is available at over 94 Ford dealerships nationally, including this one. It’s basically a product that ensures that all cars bought under this banner are suitably inspected, checked and sold with the understanding that they are completely ready for the world. Ford Approved makes the following checks:

  • 160-point quality check
  • Balance of service or maintenance plan
  • Maximum age and mileage of 5 years and 120 000km
  • 12 Months roadside assistance

An inspection of all body panels, brakes, suspension, steering, transmission operation, lights, and safety systems like airbags and seatbelts is part of this comprehensive process.

Of course through modern technology one does not have to physically visit showrooms anymore. You can go online where Ford Approved has over 1 800 vehicles to choose from. The car they chose for me was the Ranger Wildtrak, which changed people’s perceptions about leisure bakkies when it first came out. With 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque, it also became a performance star in the segment, with many owners treating it like a hot hatch on the road.

The unit had clearly been through the thorough 160-point quality check as it barely had a scratch on it. Some of the paintwork was fading a little on the exterior, while the black on the front grille was not as dark as it was brand new. Inside though different story. Solid, high quality and still very comfortable. Everything worked perfectly well, including the SYNC infotainment system with a touch screen. Wipers were still fully functional, leaving no water behind and the doors did not squeak at all.

The drive felt good. I didn’t detect any issues with wheel balancing, shock absorbers and the automatic transmission. And fuel consumption appeared to be better than when the car was new, which means a proper run-in had long been completed.

One of the innovative after-sales services launched by Ford has been the Ranger Online Service Price Calculator, which I believe has been part of Ford’s response to the “Right to Repair” issue. This service basically helps calculate your service costs ahead of your car’s next service, meaning you will know in advance what you can expect to pay. Very nifty. The last really impressive bit I found out while sitting in Obi’s office at Eagle Ford was something they call Express Service, which is service performed by two technicians within 60 minutes. You have to book that one specifically though.

Overall my experience with the Eagle Ford staff and Obi was pleasant. I found them professional, knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile. A real family indeed.

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