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How well does the Ranger tow?

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June 16 5 minute read

Young families and retirees are caravanning in record numbers. Ford’s Ranger is a popular tow vehicle, so lets take a look at how the Ranger tows.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

The vehicle

On this day the Ranger doing the work was Safari’s PXII Wildtrak. The factory 3.2L 5 cylinder engine was receiving a helping hand from one of their ARMAX ECUs and high flow ARMAX Snorkels.

This Ranger has an Old Man Emu suspension upgrade which carried the load of the caravan well.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

The caravan

The load was a Jayco Journey Outback. This is Jayco’s most popular model which made it a perfect match for the volume selling Ranger.

The electric brakes in the Jayco were controlled by a REDARC Tow-Pro Elite brake controller which was fitted to the Ford Ranger.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

The test circuit

Nothing sucks the life out of an underpowered tow vehicle like steep and twisty climbs. To give this Ranger a good workout we headed from Melbourne to Healesville up the Maroondah Highway through a section of road known as the Black Spur.

From Healesville, we headed to Marysville and then up the steep climb to the summit of Lake Mountain (1,433m), a popular cross country ski resort.

These roads were a great test – from every hairpin the Ranger had to work hard from an almost a standstill to keep climbing.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

The ARMAX ECU

If you’re new to the Safari ARMAX ECU, in summary, it’s a premium option for improving the performance of your vehicle. A secondary race quality ECU carefully manages the engine to deliver more power. Power is reduced to factory levels at periods were engine damage is more possible, for example at cold start or if the engine is overheating for any reason.

The ARMAX ECU has 5 modes, this day was a day for mode 3 – Towing. With a press of the button, the ECU delivers more low-end torque which is perfect for climbing. It also reduces top end power which looks after the engine when pulling heavy loads.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

How well did the Ranger tow?

I drive a 76 Series LandCruiser and I have to admit that for towing heavier loads I’m a big fan of the 70 Series Range and the 200 Series. Smaller engines often get the job done but to me, they often feel like they are working too hard.

In my opinion, a well-paired vehicle and caravan should be able to cruise the highway at a reasonable pace and climb with confidence. The 200 Series can do this, it’s why it is such a popular tow vehicle.

This Ranger surprised me. It’s a powerful vehicle and it didn’t struggle at any time. It has proper low-end torque and the automatic wasn’t searching for higher revs or constantly shifting gear.

Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU
Ford Ranger Tow Safari ARMAX ECU

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Mike has spent his life outdoors. He has represented Australia as a slalom kayaker, guided whitewater expeditions in Nepal, and taught outdoor education and wilderness medicine. He’s paddled the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River in the wet season and across the Bass Strait and is an avid photographer, overlander and camper.

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