First drive: 2014 Ford Fusion and Ranger at Dubai Autodrome
The all-new 2014 Ford Fusion has been on sale for a couple of months now, while the 2014 Ford Ranger is basically a carryover model, having been redesigned just a couple of years ago. But Ford decided to give us a taster of these two important models at the Dubai Autodrome recently, to highlight their best attributes. It was a generic event, like any other, but they then threw us a curveball in the form of the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Hilux, both there for us to compare with the Fords.
The 2014 Ford Fusion is currently available with a 175 hp 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed automatic. It is competitive in terms of specs, but isn’t a particularly quick car, just about keeping up with the well broken-in Toyota Camry rental cars on the straights at the track.
It’s a completely different story on the corners though, as the Fusion slipped through the turns and cones cleanly with ESP on, with limited understeer and well-controlled body roll. The Camry on the other hand had a tendency to swing out the rear a bit more, and understeer earlier.
The Ford also offered a bit more responsiveness and feedback from its controls, aside from being a bit quieter, as evidenced by the sound-level meters stuck on the dashes of the test cars. We didn’t spend enough time with the cars to tell you anything more.
Moving on to the 2014 Ford Ranger, the midsized commercial pickup is powered by a 164 hp 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, this one being the 4×4 petrol option offered alongside two diesel motors. Again, it is specced out competitively, although it can only be had with a manual gearbox.
Pitched against the similarly-powered Toyota Hilux 2.7-litre, Ford was keen to highlight that even the basic Ranger models come with hill-hold assist and hill-descent control, so it can start moving on an upslope without rolling back, and go down steep slopes in a controlled descent if low-range is selected via the electronic dial and the hill-descent button is pressed. The Hilux comes with neither of the electronic aids, and uses a stiff secondary shifter for switching to low-range. The Ranger can also switch to 4-low at slow speeds, while the Hilux has to come to a complete stop before doing so.
Even though the Hilux testers were abused ones with dying clutches, we could still deduce that the Ranger had a better gear-shifter with shorter throws, and that it had a slightly better ride over rocky terrain, aside from obviously having more ground clearance. Body roll wasn’t too bad in either of them in moderate driving, given their stiff load-bearing suspension tuning.
With this event, Ford seems to have taken the gloves off in their fight for market share in the Middle East, pitting their cars against segment-leaders. In this instance, it may initially appear not to be a completely fair fight, but as we highlighted, clearly the Ford Fusion and the Ford Ranger have several advantages out-of-the-box over the competition, even if the fight had been fair.