Ford Ranger pick-up
Price: £18,670 - £31,224
- Great build quality
- Huge load area
- Smooth and punchy diesel engine
- Cramped cabin
- Low level of equipment
- Hard to park
"The Ford Ranger is a pick-up truck that can tow and carry huge loads, yet is still as easy to drive as a car."
The Ford Ranger pick-up truck is a rival to the Mitsubishi L200 and Volkswagen Amarok. It's an excellent mix of commercial vehicle, off-roader and family car, and particularly suited to buyers who need something that will carry some seriously big loads but don’t want a van. It's a good-looking machine, with a rugged, macho, American design.
There's a range of body styles available, including two-seater single cab and five-seater double cab layouts for those who need the car to double-up as family transport. The load space is huge, and the Ranger is a capable tower, too. Best of all, Ford has designed it to drive like a car, which means it's easy to manoeuvre and capable of tackling twisty country roads.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Running costs are high, with low mpg and high tax
The Ford Ranger, like all pick-up trucks, is a workhorse. It's designed to carry loads and tow big objects, not to minimise fuel bills. There are three engines to choose from: a 123bhp 2.2-litre TDCi diesel, a 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi diesel and the flagship 197bhp 3.2-litre TDCi diesel.
Economy and CO2 figures vary depending on the body style you opt for, and on whether you go for a manual or automatic. But even the smallest engine in its most efficient form is only capable of 39mpg and 192g/km CO2. While the big 3.2-litre engine fitted with the automatic gearbox (which is less efficient than the manual) will do just 27mpg and emit a whopping 274g/km CO2. So, whichever model you choose, you’re going to be faced with some hefty bills. There is some good news if you’re buying one for a small business, though – it's a commercial vehicle, which means business drivers can claim back VAT and have a comparatively low benefit-in-kind tax than they would with a conventional car. We would expect to the Ranger to be bullet-proof, too, so servicing shouldn’t be pricey and we wouldn’t anticipate any major repair bills.
Interior & comfort
Materials feel cheap but build quality is decent, and it’s more comfortable than rivals
The interior of the Ford Ranger is not as high quality as you’ll find on European rivals like the Volkswagen Amarok. Cheap, hard and shiny plastics are used everywhere inside, and the design is pretty basic, too. That said, the minimalist design is in keeping with the Ranger's rugged looks. And while surfaces and controls look a bit cheap, they look durable, too – it should be able to cope with anything you care to throw at it, so expect the Ranger's interior to hold up well under repeated use.
You can opt for a single cab or double cab, depending on how much interior space you need, but neither version is particularly spacious. The rear in the double cab is pretty cramped, although the space on offer is comparable to rivals. There's plenty of adjustability in the seat and steering wheel, so finding a decent driving position is easy. And the Ranger is actually relatively comfortable to drive. All pick-up trucks will bounce about a bit on the road because the loading bed has to have stiff suspension to support heavy loads, but compared to rivals, the Ranger has a decent ride. It gets noisy on the motorway, though, like all pick-ups, because its upright shape creates a lot of wind noise.
Practicality & boot space
Load area and towing ability are both among the best in class
Interior space is limited, even in double cab versions. But otherwise, the Ranger offers superb practicality. The load bed of the Ranger has the same width and height whichever body style you go for, but the single cab version has more length. But even the double cab has a load bed 1,560mm long, which places it among the best of any pick-up on sale. It can carry loads of up to 1,152kg and towing capacity is one of the best in class, too. The more powerful 3.2-litre diesel is capable of pulling an enormous 3,350kg. You can buy the Ranger as a 4x2 or with four-wheel drive for extra versatility, while technology like the Trailer Sway Control and Hill Descent Control take some of the stress out of towing. The Ranger is enormous, though, which makes parking difficult, so it's not a particularly appropriate car for towns and cities.
Reliability & safety
Rugged Ranger should prove dependable and five-star crash-test rating guarantees its safety
We can’t fault the Ford Ranger's safety credentials – it was the first pick-up to score the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. It comes fitted with seven airbags and emergency brake assist as standard. And it should prove to be reliable. The Ranger is sturdily built and comes without too many complex systems with the potential to go wrong. Ford's dealer network is the most extensive in the UK, too, so you’ll never be far away from a qualified expert should something go wrong. That said, the company hasn’t performed too well in the most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It could only manage 23rd out of 32 in the 2013 manufacturer rankings, which is a disappointing performance from the nation's biggest selling car brand.
Engines, drive & performance
Handling and performance both feel very car-like, but it's noisy on the motorway
The Ranger is a pick-up truck, so if you expect to get in it and experience a smooth, bump-free ride, well, you’re in for a bit of shock. The Ranger tends to bounce about quite a bit, especially when driving over rough road surfaces. That's no different from the likes of the Mitsubishi L200 or Nissan Navara, and is due to the stiffer rear suspension that's required on these types of cars. The Ranger actually deals with this issue a lot better than most of its rivals, feeling a lot more car-like to drive as a result. There's also a good degree of agility from behind the wheel, which really shows on winding country roads. It gets nice direct steering, as well, even though it can feel a bit light considering the dimensions and weight of the car. When you’re driving around town, the steering does requires a good few too many turns for it to be easily manoeuvrable, but its responsive diesel engines does make it good for nudging into the flow of traffic. Once out on the open road, the 123bhp 2.2-litre diesel and the more powerful 148bhp version help make the Ranger a solid vehicle for towing, with a healthy amount of low-end acceleration. When driving at higher motorway speeds, the blunt dimensions whip up a lot of wind noise and tends to make for slow progress - so the Ranger is much better suited to lower speeds, especially off-road, where it truly excels. If you want to tow heavy loads over long distances, then we’d recommend the top-of-the-range 198bhp 3.2-litre. But, generally, we’d go for the 143bhp diesel as the best overall option, and a great alternative to the equivalent Nissan Navara.
Price, value for money & options
Well priced compared to rivals, but equipment levels are quite low
The Ford Ranger comes with a choice of four specification levels: XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak. Entry-level XL models come with very little equipment. You’ll need to upgrade to XLT to get things like 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, heated windscreen, air-con and cruise control. Limited spec gets 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, while Wildtrak gets 18-inch alloys, sat-nav, and ‘Ice Blue’ ambient lighting. There's a choice of body styles, too, including two-door Regular Cab, Super Cab and four-door Double Cab. plus a choice of open or closed load beds, and either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. All versions are competitively priced compared to rivals.
What the others say
"By making it refined, comfortable and stylish it has succeeded without compromising the innate ruggedness, off-road ability and practicality of a pick-up."
"Overall the Ranger is comfortable, even at motorway speeds or across country, and there's plenty of space."
Last updated: 29 Jan 2014