The Ford Courier is powerful and smooth, with easy road manners. Although it is a work ute with a 1 tonne-plus payload capacity, the Courier’s finely tuned suspension, a powerful engine and driver comforts mean that it certainly doesn’t drive like a work ute.
The Courier comes in three distinct Pick Up (cargo tray) styles. There’s the Single Cab, Super Cab and Crew Cab, the latter being the way to go if a couple of passengers are coming along for the ride. There’s a choice of engines too, with a 2.5L diesel, 2.6L 4-cylinder and 4L V6 available.
The test car was a GL V6 petrol Crew Cab with a nifty 5-speed auto unit. I picked the Courier up from Ford in the Fortitude Valley and by the time I had driven across the Storey Bridge, I was beginning to realise that the Courier Crew Cab is a surprisingly driver-friendly ute.
The Courier’s driving position is high, similar to that of the Land Rover Discovery, which means that the driver has a terrific view of the road and immediate surrounds. Some of the 4-wheel drives on our roads today have poor side visibility, however, you can see small vehicles very easily from the Courier. With its high seating I could see over the bonnet without any problems as well; this is particularly helpful when you’re parking in tight places or navigating a rough bit of track.
Although it’s basically a workhorse, the Ford Courier GL is not short on comfort. The ride is similar to that of a car, and air conditioning, power windows, CD player and AM/FM radio are all standard. The console houses the gear selector for the 5-speed auto unit and also has a cooler box which can hold some ice and drinks or simply serve as storage for smaller personal items.
The Courier is a fully functional 4-wheel drive with low range. The selector knob for the 4-wheel drive system is set up on the console to the rear of the main gear selector and just ahead of the drink holders. This is an easy to reach location: a benefit in situations when traction is required urgently.
Ford have done some marvellous work with the Courier’s suspension. The double wishbone front suspension and rear leaf set-up was nearly as smooth off the beaten track as it was on the highway.
Utilities of this type, with their solid load capacity, often tend to be bouncy when driven on uneven surfaces without a substantial load in the rear cargo area. However, the Courier was a real surprise in this regard. Travelling across a paddock with enough uneven surface for me to consider changing to low range, there was very little rebound from the rear suspension. The vehicle was unloaded with only three passengers onboard, so the ride would be even smoother with a car full of gear and people.
The Courier would be a great 4-wheel drive to transport anglers into cod, trout or bass country. The load capacity and ride are good and with a ground clearance of around 200mm and full 4-wheel drive capacity combined with a limited slip differential, beach trips and tough dirt tracks would be a piece of cake.
One of the best attributes of the Courier GL is the engine – the powerful 4L V6 never seemed to be overworked. With all that power from the V6, a big bonus is that a modest 2,000rpm on the tacho saw the Courier slipping along easily at just over 100km/h. If real grunt is required there’s 154kW on command and 323Nm of torque for pulling solid boats up a steep ramp.
The Ford Courier is an extremely versatile vehicle. It is certainly a workhorse, yet fitted with a lockable canopy on the rear cargo section it would make a brilliant RV or even family car. Parents would have no problems running errands around town or dropping youngsters off to school and on weekends, the ute could be loaded to the gunwales with camping and fishing gear for a trip to the beach or bush.
With its sensible vinyl floor and trim (seats are cloth covered), the Courier could be easily cleaned after a trip away and a bit of work with a brush and pan would see it spick and span in no time.Reads: 1994