Here we review a locally-produced special upgrade for the country’s most popular vehicle, the Ford Ranger, in this case the XSV
Retro Vehicle Enhancement has been titivating all manner of cars and trucks over the past decade. We’ve seen plenty of them over the years, some better prospects than others but they say you learn as you grow. The most recent optimised vehicles that we’ve reviewed have all been utes, unsurprising given their increasing popularity, and most of those have been badged as Platinum Editions. But now it’s a new year, and in 2017 there’s fresh ambition for RVE as it goes ‘next level’ with its custom jobs.
As David Stanners, managing director of RVE explains; “The Platinum badge is now historic, we’ve put Platinum on everything. Now we’re changing direction as we introduce new models with the aim of producing something a bit sportier and out there as a hero edition for a particular vehicle range.” And it’s starting with New Zealand’s most popular vehicle, the Ford Ranger. The new model is dubbed XSV, and it’s pitched as a sporty alternative to a Wildtrak.
“The XSV badge is going to be used on Fords, and there are other models like Everest XSV in the pipeline. The next brand will be Nissan with a Navara design that will be similar in concept to this XSV Ranger so that each vehicle brand gets its own hero edition.”
The XSV is based on the XLT model and so while it misses out on the added active safety of the top Ranger, it gets more of a menacing look about it. The XSV is all about X appeal, and there are a lot of crosses on this truck, the most notable being those up front on the grille, the X lights forming a unique looking set of DRLs. There are also an additional four LEDs which provide extra illumination on high beam, generating a dazzling throw of light.
If you’re not into chrome you’ll like the XSV as they’ve blacked out all the shiny bits of the XLT model. Some of the shine they’ve wrapped, like the mirror caps, while the parts that prove too difficult for a vinyl treatment, like the front quarter vent, are painted. On parts that are prone to wear, like the door handles, they’ve added a black plastic cap to prevent unsightly scratches. On this black truck it’s hard to pick out all the XSV details but there’s a graphic overlay on the bonnet and a body stripe that hugs the crease line of the door and up around the C-pillar, as well as more XSV graphics below. There are added fender flares (which are described as subtle, as monster-sized ones are optional), they’ve wrapped the rear bumper, and added black surrounds to the front and rear lights and there are yet more XSV decals on the tailgate. All the decals are designed and printed by RVE, the vinyl graphics produced as a single sheet, rather than having multiple layers, which means they’ll survive a waterblasting, and they have a 10-year guarantee against fading thanks to a UV-resistant coating.
The alloys measure up at 20-inches and are part of RVE’s own range of wheels. They’ve been designed in-house and while they are made overseas, they are tested by a third-party here in NZ to ensure they comply to the international JWL (Japan light alloy wheel) safety standard. The design of the spoke allows for coloured inserts to be added if you want some contrast. The wheel and tyre package is said to be matched to the Ranger’s original offset and rolling diameter specification so as not to run foul of the factory set-up, and there’s no worry with the traction control and ESP on this model. The 265/50R20 tyres have fairly large tread blocks but they aren’t mud pluggers so don’t hum at speed. The side walls seem fairly stiff adding a bit of intent on turn-in but also a bit of extra jiggle to the ride.
Inside, there are more XSV logos; on the gearlever, the rim of the steering wheel, and incorporated into the speedo. As Stanners says, it’s these subtle details that help make the car a bit more special. There is the usual RVE leather work, of course, with the XSV featuring a lot more cowhide than the Wildtrak. The so-called tombstone seats gain added bolstering and a more supportive shape while the leather stitching pattern is not your usual mass market fare, and the bolsters aren’t too over-bearing so don’t hinder your access up into the seat. There’s some excessive stitching on the steering wheel we could live without while adding some soft touch surfacing to the door tops would be a good idea; those hard plastic surfaces in utes still grate considering the price they ask.
The XSV package will start at $10,500, plus the cost of the donor XLT of course. It’s an all-inclusive deal that can be bought from any Ford dealer in the country. But why stop there? This example was fitted with a cosmetic sports bar but of more practical use is the lockable roller tonneau cover. This is similar in concept to the one fitted to the Wildtrak except this one apparently doesn’t leak. The Wildtrak cover is made up of individual slats that can let the water seep in whereas this one-piece polycarbonate job is said to be watertight. Any water that is on the top when you retract the cover collects in the housing and drains out through the wheel wells to keep the tray drip-free.
The cover can also be locked off at any point along its rail slider if you have a tall load, and the latch is a simple-to-use affair, no fiddling required. There’s also a Bedrug inside the tray. As Rangers comes with a plastic liner, this one is more of a mat but it does the job nicely, giving the tray a soft lining and is easily removed for cleaning.