If you’re on the lookout for a new car, chances are you’re giving utes a good thing. They’re what you’ll use for both work and play, to tow boats or trailers, and take you anywhere you have in mind. There’s loads of space, different cab styles, and economical and gutsy engines. High up the sales ladder is the Ford Ranger, and in the last couple of months, this is Australia’s top-selling car. Current models are competitively priced, and have tons of features that rivals miss out on as well as the newest safety tech. A few more aftermarket additions though can round out what’s already a decent car.
The success of the Ranger is down to the efforts of the Ford Australia design team that took into account local tastes, buyers’ needs and Aussie road conditions. Buyers have the option of hundreds of Ford Ranger 4×4 accessories to choose from. Most go with some basic vehicle protection, towing goodies, added safety gear, more performance in the dirt and sand, and gear that increases already generous loading space. Here’s what to look for when decking out a new or used Ranger:
Bull bars are good for the rough and the smooth in any type of terrain. They excel on country roads with a lot of road spray, and shine when off-road. Their purpose is to shield occupants in head-on collisions with other vehicles, and in the bush in encounters with Aussie wildlife. Bull bars also keep engine and car parts intact in low-speed clashes with boulders, rocks and stumps that can put more than a dent in your car.
Look for traditional triple hoops for early versions of the Ranger, or replacement winch-compatible bars with a neater look for the PXIII. Both come in heavy-duty steel for optimal strength, have coatings to fare with mud and water and are packed with off-roading goodies like integrated recovery points. Aftermarket and locally produced variants are way cheaper than OEM versions at the dealership but still comply with ADR regulations to accommodate airbag sensors and front cameras.
If you’re driving mostly in the city, then a nudge bar might be a better choice for your Ranger. These still have good strength, if not up to the standard of a full bull bar, and can push away debris and prevent scratches and dents in the car park or bumper-to-bumper gridlocks. Nudge bars are lighter, fit over the stock bumper, need less work to install, and are way cheaper. They can also handle some lighter trails.
Canopies and Toolboxes
Every tradie with a ute has a toolbox or canopy at the back. These are Ford Ranger 4×4 accessories that let you increase overall space, organise gear, tools and equipment in neat drawers, shelves and compartments, and keep everything ready and locked up. There are tough steel and aluminium versions in different styles and sizes. From part-tray options to those taking up the entire tray or tub. Buyers will also find a canopy or toolbox for any cab style, and there are lift-off variants when you need the tray for other purposes. Off-road enthusiasts can also benefit from a full canopy, decked out with things like slide-out ovens and fridges to keep things civil when in the bush.
Utes are great for tackling technical terrain, but in stock form the performance you get is limited. To get better airflow into the engine a snorkel works wonders. It filters air from higher up, meaning no dust or water gets in the engine. This is good for getting through creeks and rivers, in trails littered with rocks and dirt and in hotter temperatures. For the Ranger, there are versions made of reinforced plastic and slightly cheaper from more durable snorkels in stainless steel. Either is a necessity in the bush. All Ranger variants (early PJ and PK to current PXIII trims) are covered.
Outfitting your rig higher is done with changes to the stock suspension. Tougher struts and coils improve off-road handling and wheel articulation, translating to better performance and more safety. Go with air suspension kits for a plusher ride and when you’re carrying heavier items in the back, or specialist lift kits and fined tuned for your Ranger when in the dirt.
To get more things crammed in for longer journeys, or when carrying larger, bulky items, you’ll need a roof rack. One that’s the right size for the cab style, and the right design for the load. Options include longer platform racks for dual-cabs in carrying things like ladders, planks or sporting gear; caged racks when securing several smaller items, and the popular tradesman racks that offer the best of both, and can double as a rooftop tent base, or when you want an awning attached. Go for aftermarket aluminium racks and get a set of universal rails to fit them to the roof. Mind the roof loading capacity on your Ranger, and get a compatible rack in the right size.
Towing Brake Controllers
If you have a trailer, caravan or boat attached to the back of your Ranger, a nice safety addition are electric brake controllers. These offer independent braking in the attached vehicle, but comply with the input from the towing vehicle (with wireless units working best). Braking force is evenly distributed, meaning less jitter, backlash or the trailer, boat or caravan detaching from the hitch. Most also have an auto function in such cases to bring vehicles to a safe stop.
Running loads of gear from the main car battery? To avoid the battery from dying out and leaving you in the middle of nowhere, get a battery monitor. This is a cheap device that tracks the charge levels in the battery, and also monitors cranking systems in your Ranger to see if batteries are charging as they should. Battery monitors are simple set-and-forget units that also determine the power draw for separate appliances and devices you’ll have hooked up in a custom solar system.
Tub Liners and Drawers
Heavy, bulky items can dent and scratch the tub. Rugged, heavy-duty polypropylene liners are the solution. They also prevent loads from sliding around, help in accidental spills and keep the tub rust-free. UV-resistant versions also hold their looks in the sun. For concealed and secure storage of necessary items, like first aid kits, consider installing a tub drawer. Slide-out metal drawers roll out on quality steel rollers, and have the added convenience of fitted 240 and 12V sockets for powering tools and other gear.
Reverse and Dash Cams
Last, but not least, fit a reversing camera to earlier Rangers and models in basic trims of the current model. This helps with visibility, especially with bigger loads in the tub or on the tray, or when you have a full-sized canopy obstructing views. For more safety, the same camera can double as a dashcam to record trips, speed and routes – good if your Ranger is used as a commercial vehicle by employees.