One for the road

We’ve been a long-time loyal Subaru family. Since the L Series wagon, we’ve had a few and they have all been very good to us, never letting us down. They are very popular in Tasmania with winding and often wet, slippery roads, I believe one of the safest cars to drive with a decent set of tyres.

Until a few months ago, my last one was a 2007 Impreza “Luxury” wagon which I’d happily owned for around seven years! It was the last of the classic Impreza shape and my favourite looking Subaru.

Planning ahead – In a few years time, the wife and I want to travel around Australia with a little hybrid camper in tow. I started considering a ute seriously last August and began researching options – coincidentally, about the time this blog started to wain … :/ . Unfortunately for what-ever reason, Subaru don’t make a ute (or van) anymore … unless you count the Sambar which is not sold in Australia.

I settled on a Ford Ranger … 2012 onward PX1 to begin with, XLT with electronic diff lock, and it had to be a Supercab – the dual cab trays are too short (around 1.4m) to fit my Salamanca Market marquee in, and I didn’t really want a flat tray, but still want to be able to seat 4 adults if I need to. So the hunt began.

Supercabs are relatively rare, all the PX1’s I found had well over 200,000km on them, so I started considering stretching my budget to a PX2, and after many months looking, this 2016 XLT became available with 99,000km on the edge of my revised budget. Unmolested, one elderly driver, extremely tidy and in lovely Aurora Blue, it didn’t take me long to decide to have a drive and nervously sign the papers, still unsure if I really wanted such a seemingly large beast after many small cars.

While not the first ute or 4×4 I have owned, it is the first automatic I have ever owned, first diesel, first turbo and first vehicle over $10,000. It also turned out to have the full safety pack with eye-sight and radar which is great for adaptive cruise control! While there’s not lots of room in the back for passengers, it’s comfortable enough for short trips and provides plenty of room for an esky, my camera gear, a few coats/hats, and Ralphie – the doggo!

One of the first “Mods” I did was purchase a OBD2 Bluetooth Scan tool (Autohil AX4 for $45) which lets me keep and eye on all the sensor information on an old tablet I installed on the dash that the ute’s dash won’t tell me until it’s too late – things like tyre pressures and temp, radiator temp, transmission temp, Intercooler temp, EGR sensors, turbo pressure, engine load, gear, and much more. After trying several apps, the one I settled on with the most info for the Ranger and better graph displays is called “Car Scanner”. shown below. (the “Torque” app is shown above).

I also slowly began replacing all bulbs with LEDs, including colour changeable ones in the cab to protect night vision.

After owning this ute for around 4 months now, I have to say that still, everytime I drive it, I like it a little more. It’s very comfortable and easy to drive (I feel lazy!) for such a large vehicle which weighs 2.3 tonne (though it’s only classed as a mid-size ute .. ironically it’s classed as a small truck for registration purposes, pushing the price up from car registration).

Because I’m not a massive fan of all that chrome and bling, I replaced the grill with a black one I found for half price on eBay, brought covers which I sprayed metalic grey for the side mirrors, vents, door handles fog light surrounds and tail light protectors. One of the mirror indicator lenses was cracked too so I replaced those with black-out LED ones found cheap on eBay, they work a treat.

I also installed a GME XRS-370C UHF two way radio and have many planned upgrades for it’s eventual intended use as a touring tow vehicle including an aluminium tray cover, adjustable suspension, towing/brake assist, bullbar, snorkel, sidestep rock sliders and more, but for now, these will be the last mods probably for a while, as it is currently mainly used for commuting on sealed roads.

One last mod, I replaced the inside tailgate plastic with a sheet of flat aluminium to use as a table.

We just completed a four day trip today in the Ranger, which averaged a pretty good 9.3l/100km to the North West of Tasmania, a roughly five hour drive from Hobart, where we stayed on a farm, toured the coast road down to Temma, visited the Tarkine and “The Nut” at Stanley. I took … lets just say LOTS of photos, more posts on that trip SOON!

Happy travels 😀

7 thoughts on “One for the road

  1. Being a ham radio licensee, I find the UHF CB radios very interesting, Tone. I wish we had that here, instead, our CB radios use the AM mode in 27mhz. Yuck. Subaru is popular here too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John, the CB band was popular here in the 80’s but waned in favour of UHF. I was heavily involved with CB as a teenager after being introduced by a mate who”s older brothers had them. The UHF is used by truckies, Caravaners and the 4WD community as well as Councils and services so it”s handy when travelling to be able to communicate with them. The unit I chose is Australian made but also capable of listening to the fire dept. and scanning emergency channels but not transmit on them to find out what is happening in the area you are travelling.All the controls are also on the handset.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I copied the radio name and did some searching for it. Man, do I wish we had that over here, Tone! Our stupid FCC (federal communications commission) just allocated the use of FM for the 27mhz CB frequencies.

        This is the first change to that band in 40 years! I have an FM CB now and have tried it but nobody replies. There aren’t many FM CB radios out there yet.

        I suspect that some of the frequencies you are using are used for our Family Radio Service which is just a bunch of cheap hand-held radios that put out a whopping 2 watts!

        The other radio service in 462mhz is our GMRS service which means the General Mobile Radio Service. Our FCC sucks as does the whole damn government. I’ve held an Amateur Radio (ham radio) license since 1980.


    1. Thanks Morgaine, planning an early retirement in hopefully 4-5 years with no real plans or timeframe but to wander and see Australia, likely a few shorter trips first. Probably won’t get a van for a few years yet after pushing the budget on the ute, unless something suitable pops up on the secondhand market 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, I like it much more than I thought I would. Gave it a little off-road test on our recent trip but without recovery gear had to reign myself in (or it might have been the wife) to be on the safe side. It feels very capable and confident off road.


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