The previous generation Ford Falcon RTV (Rugged Terrain Vehicle) ute sold between 2003 and 2008. It was designed as a working vehicle which offers a perfect compromise between comfort and utility. The old Falcon ute was available only with 2WD configuration, but this small impediment never stop it to attack the rugged terrains with poise. To be suited for off road driving, the old Falcon RTV Ute received a high ground clearance and a full locking rear differential.
The 2003 Falcon had a starting price of $30,615 and was offered with a choice of three engines which developed 182kW, 156kW and 220kW.
The 2003 Ford Falcon ute looked fairly good and served as a strong base for the actual generation which is one of the best looking vehicles in its class.
Overall, the old Falcon came with a sleek and sporty exterior style which won’t be found at many commercial vehicles. The body panels are clean and rounded to offer a low drag coefficient.
The front comes with a set of elongated headlights which flank a small radiator grille painted in the same color as the body.
The hood features a pretty clean design, but it received a set of dynamic creases which converge toward the grille forming a tasty “V” shaped pattern.
The front bumper isn’t something to rave about, but it’s nicely integrated into the overall design and it’s fitted with an elongated air intake.
Around the back, there is a pretty small load bed which can be accessed by means of a bottom hinged tailgate.
Inside, the old Falcon looked pretty nice and came with a modern and practical dashboard. The materials were also part of the first class and the build quality was faultless.
Space wasn’t a problem either and there was enough leg and head room for both the driver and passenger. The center console was laid out in an intuitive way and every control was placed within easy reach.
The seats were deep and supportive and came with a series of useful adjustments (height included) to help you get cozy behind the steering wheel. Talking about the wheel, it had a pretty dull design but it offered a confident grab and was fitted with a bunch of useful controls. It was also available with reach and rake adjustments.
You seat pretty low from the ground which is uncommon for a commercial vehicle. Luckily this doesn’t affect the all around visibility and you won’t have any complains about the big lateral mirrors either.
The instrument cluster is pretty basic and it’s the most dated detail you’ll find in the old Falcon. Fortunately, the gauges are pretty clear and you can read them without problems.
Finding some place to put your things won’t be hard at all, as the cab is fitted with all sorts of useful storage places which include a generous glove box, door pockets and a convenient tray complete with cup holders nested between the seats.
Standard features include power windows and mirrors, driver airbag, remote central locking, and a radio CD player with steering wheel mounted controls. You’d had to pay extra money for aircon, cruise control and passenger airbag.
Engines and performance
The 2003 Ford Falcon RTV ute was available with a choice of three engines. The entry level unit was a 4.0 liter straight six unit which came with 182kW and 380Nm of torque on tap. Despite its relatively small power output the straight six offered decent performances and never felt strained.
The second engine option is a E-gas 4.0 liter straight six which develops a maximum output of 156 kW and 375 Nm of torque, while the top of the range 5.4 liter V8 cranks out 220 kW and a huge 470 Nm of torque.
All units can be married to either five speed manual or four speed Sport Shift automatic transmissions (with manual mode included).
The ute is equipped with a capable rear differential which helps it go head to head with harsh terrains without backing down. Unlike the old HydraTrac found at the Outback the new differential is fully locking and can be engaged while on the move by means of a convenient dash mounted switch. When the rear differential is locked both rear wheels spin at the same time and the vehicle moves if only one of the wheels managed to catch a proper grip. The differential locks in automatically depending on the vehicle’s speed, but it can be also completely turned off manually.
Ride and handling
The Falcon RTV’s suspensions are more on the stiff side of things, so ride quality was sacrificed. However, the hard suspensions are translated in healthy handling performances and the vehicle corners admirably, with small body roll and great cornering abilities.
The steering is also pretty sporty and offers a good feedback at both low and high speeds. You’ll also like the extra traction offered by the rear locking differential which can be felt when cornering at low speeds.
The previous generation Ford Falcon RTV ute was a fairly good product. The vehicle received high marks in almost any departments.
It had capable engines, a comfortable and ergonomic cabin and first class handling abilities. It’s true that the ride quality was a bit jiggly, but this is the usual treatment found in the segment.
However, the main fault of the vehicle was its peppered price which was a bit too big for a commercial vehicle even if it’s sporty.