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Car reviews - Ford - Falcon Ute - Longreach GLi utility

Our Opinion

We like
Over the XG, more comfort, performance, carrying ability, safety and refinement. More modern than any previous Falcon ute ever then...
Room for improvement
... but that's like saying a 1928 Model A Ford is more technologically advanced than a 1927 Model T... still hopelessly out of date

7 May 2003

"FOOTBALL, meat pies, kangaroos and Falcon utes" may be a more apt expression of just how deeply entrenched the perennial Ford utility is in the Aussie psyche.

Legend has it a farmer wrote to Ford Australia requesting a car that could haul pigs to the markets during the week and still be able to take "the missus" to church on Sundays. Ford obliged with the world's first passenger car-based utility in 1934.

The long line of Falcon utilities reaches back to the 1960 XK model. The recently superseded XH, launched in April, 1996, can trace its lineage back through the XF to the XD from 1979.

Since 1993 Ford has named its Falcon-based utes and vans Longreach, in honour of the town in which QANTAS started.

In 1996, Ford finally refreshed the ageing ute by grafting the 1994-1996 EF Falcon front-end onto the XF cabin and rear, although only 400 out of the 1200 new parts are interchangeable with the EF sedan.

The styling may look the same but it does not share any panels with the EF Falcon sedan save for the headlights, front bumper and door mirrors.

At the back, the restyle is restricted to a new bumper design.

Headroom had always been a little tight so Ford added a slightly doomed roof to provide an extra 18mm of clearance. Even so, headroom remained a weak point.

Legroom remains tight and there is an annoying lack of storage space for small items.

Occupant comfort improved with the sedan's seats while the dashboard was slightly upgraded with a more rounded binnacle, housing the EF sedan's comprehensive instrument display, including a tachometer.

Options include a driver's airbag, bull-bar, cruise control and anti-lock brakes, except for on the gravel-bound Outback.

The rest of the XH dash and door trims are pure 1984 XF Falcon, although new door and window seals reduce wind noise.

Mechanically, the XH adopted the EF Falcon sedan's front suspension, rack and pinion steering and engine box body structure.

Sharper steering response, a tighter turning circle and reduced road noise and vibration through the steering wheel were a welcome benefit, although the ute still lacks the off-centre feel of the sedan.

Performance from the venerable 4.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine is improved thanks to a higher compression ratio, increasing power and mid-range torque. It now develops 148kW while maximum torque has jumped 5Nm to 353Nm.

The payload is 820kg with a 2300kg towing ability except on the GLi One Tonne, which has a payload increase of 350kg.

Particular care is needed when buying a used Falcon ute as many will have clocked a lot of kilometres under extremely tough conditions.

Worn drivetrains, engines and transmissions, and sagging body and interior trim are signs of a hard life.

The XH-series Falcon Longreach ute is one of the toughest car- like commercial vehicles available. Tried and true drivetrains mean unabused examples should remain virtually unburstable while still providing a hint of modern family sedan-like dynamics and comfort.

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