With excellent off-roading capabilities, the mighty Ford Ranger pick-up can take on any challenge Mother Nature throws in its path.
The goodBig, beefy and beautiful
The badNot cheap and lots of competition these days
Ford Ranger Limited 2.0 EcoBlue Automatic (2019)
It’s time to dig out your old Glen Campbell CDs, don you favourite cowboy hat and go in search of denims and a check shirt, because the Ford Ranger is a pick-up truck with all-American attitude.
And just like all its rivals in the ‘ute’ sector such as the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200 and VW Amarok to name but a few, the Ranger is the perfect blend of go-anywhere, workhorse grit mixed with an array of all the creature comforts we demand from our vehicles these days.
Engineers and designers certainly have their work cut out trying to keep everyone happy with modern day pick-ups. After all, these vehicles began life as proper hard-core working trucks that were the ‘go-to’ models for farmers and builders alike. But nowadays, they have become quite fashionable alternatives to the full-blown SUVs that have flooded the market.
And the Ford Ranger is proof of that. It offers rugged styling, 4×4 ability and a wading depth of 800mm. Yet our mid-trim Limited model also looked the business with its Blue Lightening paintwork, bright front fender grille, privacy glass, bi-xenon headlights, front fog lights and 17-inch Panther black alloy wheels.
Climb aboard – and you literally do – with the aid of a side step and grab handles if required, and the interior is loaded with techno treats to explore. There is Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen, a DAB radio, CD player, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a fixed rearview camera and lots more besides.
The Ranger has a modern, clutter-free layout and an upmarket feel to it with leather upholstered seats with eight-way power adjustment, some neat chrome trimmings and plenty of soft touch surfaces.
Our double-cab test model was powered by the latest EcoBlue 2.0-litre 130PS diesel engine mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox and could sprint to 62mph from a standstill in a very respectable 11.4 seconds, topping out at 112mph. According to the latest WLTP figures, it could deliver 36.7-37.7mpg and had carbon emissions of 197g/km.
Performance-wise, the Ranger is one of the most refined pick-up models to drive and the new gearbox results in smooth acceleration along with all the power you could wish for thanks to the punchy engine. The road holding is assured and the cabin is well insulated against outside noise.
On motorways, it cruises effortlessly at 70mph and the good all-round visibility is another plus factor.
With a 12.7-metre turning lock, the Ranger is actually quite nimble too, although you will need a very long parking bay – that’s because the vehicle stretches more than 5.3 metres in length. It can carry a regular-sized pallet with a payload limit of one tonne and can also tow a trailer weighing up to 3.5 tonnes.
The Ranger can be driven in 2WD for the majority of its journeys which not only delivers the best ride and handling, it also offers maximised fuel efficiency. But, when rougher terrain presents itself, it can easily be switched across to 4WD whilst on the move, which is a handy function.
Safety is another area where the Ford Ranger excels. In fact, it was the first pick-up vehicle to be awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP back in 2012. Features include pedestrian detection, electronic stability control with traction control, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed assist, a collision mitigation system, lane keeping assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, roll over mitigation, tyre pressure sensors and a full suite of airbags.
And finally, when you factor in the competitive price-tag of £35,764 including VAT (£37,984 incl. VAT with options), the latest Ford Ranger has proven itself to be the ultimate rough, tough workhorse that is also more than happy to show off its gentler side when required.
Ford Ranger Double Cab Wildtrak 3.2 TDCi Automatic
The world of pick-ups is a competitive market with all manufacturers vying for that little edge to attract buyers.
And Ford has certainly laid down the gauntlet with its latest Ranger model – it looks fantastic, works hard, plays hard and has all the 4×4 capabilities you could wish for.
In promoting the Ranger, Ford capitalised on a phrase: The right tool can make child’s play of men’s work – and the Ranger does just that.
And that’s not all because the Ranger is the first pick-up to receive the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings.
The top-of-the-range Wildtrak double cab model featured a powerful 3.2-litre diesel engine with six-speed automatic transmission. This really is the daddy of the Ranger family with all the bells and whistles. In an exclusive Wildtrak orange colour with its lockable roll top cover and 18-inch alloys, it stands out in any crowd.
And once you start the engine, it ticks over with a real sense of menace.
But there is a gentler side to the Ranger and the interior with its ice blue ambient lighting, flashes of orange on the leather seats and a whole host of creature comforts are testament to that.
For example, go back a few years and a pick-up would never feature such luxuries as voice activated Bluetooth, a colour sat nav system, a cooler box in the centre console, dual-zone electronic air conditioning, rear view camera, eight-way electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, parking distance sensors and cruise control.
These are all present on the new Ranger plus a whole lot more.
But many buyers will be looking to the vehicle’s working credentials before splashing out the £24k (£30 with optional extras) on the highly impressive Ranger.
Well, fear not because this vehicle is up for any challenge over land or water.
It boasts an amazing load capacity, can wade through water up to 800mms deep and can tow 3,350kgs – that gives an idea of the Ranger’s potential.
And with full 4×4 ability, no challenge will be too tough.
Yet one factor that really impressed me was how agile the Ranger is. Visibility is excellent and manoeuvring such a large vehicle proved much easier than anticipated. In fact, at times it was easy to forget it was a pick-up that was being driven at all.
Comfort levels are pretty good for its size although you do feel the odd bump and the cabin noise is not too loud either.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist, traction control, electronic stability programme and much more besides.
All in all, the new Ranger is quite a vehicle. It offers the very best of both worlds when it comes to work and play making it a genuine all-rounder.