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Ford Falcon XH Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 1 June 1996

No longer will that man in the Ford utility television commercial be saying "it don't look no different". At long last, Ford has grafted the front body section of the current EF series Falcon sedans onto its long-serving Falcon ute, so at least when it's heading towards you, it looks like a new model.

At the same time, the latest XH-designated Longreach utes get EF front suspension and steering, revised rear suspension, detailed engine upgrades, new seats, new instrumentation pod and different interior trim. Standard equipment has been increased in all models.

The Longreach range comprises five models - four utilities and one van. Utes are the GLi (as tested), the S, the XR series and the Outback. The van comes in GLi form.

Prices for manual Longreach utes start at $22,786 for the GLi , with the S costing $26,471, the Outback $28,614 and the XR6, $29,961. The manual GLi van costs $25,398.

Automatic transmission costs just $688 extra on the S and the XR6, but it's $1,511 more on the other three models.

Anti-lock brakes are optional, but they come with a mandatory limited slip differential, effectively lifting the price from $990 to $1,472. A driver's airbag is optional on all models for $990 and air conditioning costs $2,040. As on Falcon sedans, an airbag-compatible bullbar is available. An LPGas conversion is a Tickford option at $2,050.

Regardless of the conditions, the Falcon's 4.0 litre six has plenty of power to cope. Engine changes such as increased computer power, revised camshaft profiles, higher compression and fitment of a knock sensor have brought small but worthwhile improvements in engine torque and fuel economy.

Ford claims added engine smoothness, but the old straight six still gets rather harsh and feels agricultural when revved hard. In the test vehicle, the optional cruise control was absurdly sensitive, resulting in intolerable jerky vehicle operation.

Handling was better than expected, with predictable behaviour under varying conditions and traction at least as good as the sedans. As expected, the ride is rather firm when travelling unladen; it improves noticeably when carrying a few hundred kilos.

Equipped with ABS, the test ute stopped very well. This option is well worth considering, particularly if you do a lot of driving with little or no load on board.

Though Ford claims to have done a lot of work on reducing noise and harshness, the test ute had some unpleasant resonance around 70 to 80 km/h on light acceleration.

The load carrying capacity of Longreach utes depends on the model and options fitted. The XR6 has the lowest capacity at between 500 and 545 kg., Outbacks can carry between 730 and 750 kg, and the GLi and S versions are rated at between 740 and 820 kg.

At the time of writing, the One Tonne option was only available for the GLi ute and van. It includes heavier rear leaf springs, uprated tyres and an automatic transmission oil cooler.

With a Ford Class 11 Towback, the maximum towing capacity for the Longreach ute is quoted at 2300 kg, however this would not be legal in NSW. Under the regulation that the laden mass of the trailer must not exceed two thirds of the towing vehicle's gross vehicle mass by more than 10%, the approximate towing capacities would be: XR6, 1510 kg., GLi with One Tonne Option, 1970 kg., others, 1695 kg..


Despite its expensive facelift, the latest Falcon utility still looks and feels a little agricultural in some areas. Apart from a full width rear bumper, body changes are from the windscreen forward and that leaves it with circa-1979 XD Falcon bodywork around the doors and rear section.

The gaps and recesses around the cabin windows and doors inevitably result in wind noise and, combined with some noticeable engine harshness and general reverberations at certain load/speed combinations, remind you you're in a truck, not a car.

I'd also like to see more thought put into the load area design to provide protection against damage to the internal surfaces from cargo sliding about, and to more safely secure loads.

Aside from these criticisms, the Longreach ute does have plenty of appeal for those who simply want a strong workhorse with ample performance and a generous load carrying capacity. The Longreach also boasts car-type ease of handling and driving, and an array of features comparable to a Falcon sedan.

Test vehicle supplied by Ford Motor Co. Australia.

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Quick Facts

Make Ford
Model Falcon XH
Category Large
Year 1996
Body type Ute
Price of vehicle tested $29,961

Good performance
Secure braking with optional ABS
Good load capacity


Fairly harsh and noisy operation
Firm ride when unladen
Load area lacks protection against damage

Country of manufacture Australia
Warranty 2years/50,000km
Models Available



GLi: $22,786
Outback: $28,614
XR6: $29,961



Number of cylinders 6
Engine size 3.9 L
Induction Multi-point electronic fuel injection
Fuel ULP
Claimed max power (kW) 148 kW @ 4300 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 353 Nm @ 3000 rpm


Type Automatic


Wheel type Steel
Wheel size 6.00J x 14 "




Turning circle (measured) 11.6 m


Mass 1500 kg
Length 4920 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1860 mm
Height 1388 mm
Seating capacity 2
Fuel capacity 68 litres


Max towed mass (trailer plus load) Refer text kg

NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 74

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 4.4 secs
60 - 100km/h 6.2 secs
0 - 80km/h 5.9 secs
0 - 100km/h 8.3 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 10.1 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 16.2 L/100km
Average on test 12.1 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 29.9 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 69 dB(A)

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