Driven: Ford Ranger pick-up truck

Driven: Ford Ranger pick-up truck
Ford ranger

On the road in Ford’s rugged workhorse.

PROMISING added luxury and refinement, Ford’s Ranger is targeting the Nissan Navara NP300 and Mitsubishi L200. The new pick-up truck offers way more than you’d expect from a workaday load-lugger, including a variety of bodystyles.

Of the two-seat Regular, four-seat Super and five-seat (and four-door) Double Cab, the latter is the most sensible all-rounder. Complete with either a 2.2-litre or a beefier 3.2 turbodiesel, the Ford Ranger makes most sense in standout Limited 2 or Wildtrak trims. We put it through its paces.

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The 2.2-litre diesel isn’t exactly refined, from idle all the way up to motorway speeds, but it pulls strongly and can more than cope with heavy loads. Despite a long-throw gearshift, it belies its mere 157bhp output with strong urge from low revs. Road and wind noise are better supressed, and on normal roads the ride is composed. Things get more bouncy when the surface worsens, though, as the rear suspension is set up to carry cargo rather than cosset passengers. Nevertheless, the Ranger’s ride is among the best in the class.

Slow steering and substantial body roll mean the Ford’s handling is harder work on fast B-roads, but it’s stable on the motorway while optional four-wheel drive boosts confidence in slippery conditions both on and off-road.

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Inside, the Ranger’s driving position is high and comfortable, with well laid-out controls and good forward visibility. A small back screen restricts rear vision somewhat, but Limited spec upwards has standard parking sensors and the Wildtrak adds a rear parking camera.

All but the basic cheapest models are nicely appointed, so we’d suggest you aim at least for the XLT, with its sharp-looking 4.2in Ford Sync touchscreen. Our preferred Limited and Wildtrak get the latest 8.0in Sync 3 system. Passenger capacity numbers two for the two-door Ranger, but the more practical Double Cab can carry five people, although the oddly high floor infringes on foot room.

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All Rangers can carry monster payloads in their rear beds, and most will tow 3500kg. That puts the model among the class leaders, which is a bonus for business users who plan to put the workhorse through its paces. Another plus point is its BIK tax efficiency, while the outright cash purchase price is cheaper than, say, the Volkswagen Amarok. The Ford truck even makes sense in more costly specs such as Limited, which comes with executive-style heated leather seats, climate and cruise control plus 17in alloys, making it more like a business model than a pick-up.

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The 2.2-litre diesel is plenty strong enough and substantially more economical than the 3.2. All models are highly safety conscious, having achieved a five-star Euro NCAP rating. An overall strong showing for performance, kit and practicality should make the Ranger a desirable option in the UK pick-up market. Let’s see if the buying public agrees. – www.standard.co.uk

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