Ford Ranger pick-up
Price £19,035 - £31,589
- Great build quality
- Huge load area
- Smooth and powerful diesel engine
- Cramped cabin
- Low level of equipment
- Hard to park
At a glance
"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 third-generation Ford Ranger has been designed from scratch to dominate the booming European pick-up truck market. Ford's efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, this is one of the most fun to drive vehicles in its class, but if you’re expecting an SUV alternative, don’t be fooled. Being able to carry such heavy loads means the Ranger has to have heavy duty suspension, which can make the ride fairly bouncy. Still, the Ranger is more comfortable than most of its rivals.
A 2.2-litre diesel is available with 123bhp or 148bhp, while there's also a range-topping 3.2-litre diesel with 197bhp and the ability to tow a massive 3,500kg braked trailer. But, the largest engine also has very high emissions, so it will cost a lot of money to run.
Different cab sizes and a large accessories catalogue allow you to customise the Ranger to your work and lifestyle, and while it's not quite as plush as a Volkswagen Amarok inside, its styling beats most competitors like the Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux. Just avoid the entry-level trims, which are better suited to a building site than a weekend away.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Ford Ranger's running costs are high, with low mpg and high tax brackets
The Ford Ranger is designed primarily as a workhorse, capable of carrying and towing heavy loads, so none will be as cheap to run as a normal car, or even most SUVs. The most frugal is the 2.2-litre TDCi diesel Regular Cab with 123bhp and rear-wheel drive, which returns 39mpg and emits 192g/km of CO2, costing £265 each year in road tax. This might sound thirsty, but it’s better than its rivals can manage. Upgrading this version to four-wheel drive with a spacious Super Cab (four-door, four-seat) sees the consumption drop to 35mpg and emissions climb to 209g/km. The Toyota HiLux is slightly more economical with four-wheel drive fitted, managing 38.7mpg and 194g/km of CO2.
Opting for the 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi doesn’t dramatically increase running costs, but the 3.2-litre TDCi is a different story. This engine might make your truck a force to be reckoned with, but consumption drops to 29.1mpg and emissions climb to 256g/km, placing it in the highest tax bracket, costing £500 annually.
The Volkswagen Amarok is the Ranger’s closest competitor, and it emits between 199 and 211g/km of CO2 and returns between 35.3mpg and 37.2mpg, making it cheaper to run than the Nissan Navara. The most frugal version of the Mitsubishi L200 is capable of 36.7mpg and emits 204g/km.
While most SUVs are more economical, pick-up trucks are classed as a commercial vehicle, which means business drivers can claim back the VAT, and benefit-in-kind tax is lower than for conventional cars, so they could still work out cheaper to own.
Engines, drive & performance
The Ford Ranger is one of the best pick-ups to drive, but it’s no replacement for a conventional SUV
If you are expecting the ride and handling of a conventional SUV, you might be in for a bit of a shock. Pick-up trucks have to be fitted with simple and stiff rear suspension to cope with heavy loads, and can bounce about a bit when they are empty. But the Ford Ranger feels more car-like than most with steering that feels more direct than you’ll find in a Nissan Navara. This means it’s more agile and fun to drive along a country lane, and easier to live with in town. Four-wheel drive versions are highly capable off-road, with technology to make driving down steep slopes safer.
The 123bhp 2.2-litre diesel takes around 13 seconds to go from 0-62mph, but with most of its grunt tuned for acceleration from low revs, it feels powerful. The 148bhp version simply adds to its performance, and makes it feel even better suited to towing. It reaches 62mph in 11.2 or 12.3 seconds, depending on which cab you go for and whether four-wheel drive is fitted. There’s quite a lot of noise under hard acceleration, but it settles down at constant speeds.
If you want to get really serious with your load lugging, there’s a 3.2-litre diesel with 197bhp and four-wheel drive as standard. This makes it feel fast for a pick-up and perfect for towing heavy loads – with 0-62mph coming up in 10.3 seconds.
Interior & comfort
The Ford Ranger benefits from a supple ride and a decent interior, so long as you go for XLT or above
The interior doesn’t feel as upmarket as the class-leading Volkswagen Amarok, but it compares favourably with most of its rivals. There are more cheap, shiny plastics than you’d find in an SUV, but they should stand up to knocks, which are more than likely given the Ranger’s intended usage. The XL trim is particularly workmanlike with none of the aluminium-effect highlights or trim you’ll find in the XLT or Limited and a simple LED display for the radio.
A single, super and double cab are available. The single cab has two seats and a long loading bed, while the super cab has small rear opening doors behind the front ones to access two occasional use rear seats, which are very cramped. The double cab has four full-sized doors and a full row of three rear seats, although they still aren’t as spacious as those you’ll find in an SUV like the Nissan X-Trail.
All pick-up trucks can bounce about when unladen, because stiff suspension is needed to cope with heavy loads, but the Ranger has a comfortable ride for its class. It can get noisy at motorway speeds, however, with lots of wind noise due to its upright shape.
Practicality & boot space
If you need to haul heavy loads or tow a huge trailer, look no further than the Ford Ranger
Depending on your usage, you’ll need to compromise on either passenger space or load-lugging ability. The single cab only has two doors and two seats, but this allows for a very long 2.3-metre load bay, with a maximum load of up to 1,309kg (depending on engine). Chose the larger four-door, five-seat double cab and there’s more space for passengers, but the load bay decreases in length to 1.5 metres and the payload to up to 1,179kg. The tailgate folds flat, but it’s a lofty 835mm off the ground with four-wheel drive models, which can make loading heavy items difficult without suitable ramps or even a forklift truck.
The Ranger is a prodigious towing vehicle, particularly if you choose the 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi with four-wheel drive, which can pull a 2,500kg braked trailer. The 3.2-litre TDCi is even better, being certified to tow a 3,500kg braked trailer, which is more than its rival pick-ups and matches the expensive Range Rover SUV.
Reliability & safety
Rugged Ford Ranger should prove dependable and five-star crash-test rating guarantees its safety
The Ford Ranger should be extremely tough, it has certainly been designed to take years of hard work in its stride. However, the Ford brand was only rated 25th out of 33 manufacturers in the 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, which could be a concern when it comes to servicing or repairs at the dealership.
Despite their size, pickups have been a fairly unknown quantity in terms of safety. Luckily that’s not the case with the Ranger, which has been crash tested by Euro NCAP and was the first pick-up to score five stars, with a superb 96 per cent score for adult occupant protection and impressive 86 per cent for child occupants. Not many pick-ups have been tested, but the Volkswagen Amarok only scored four stars.
Seven airbags and electronic skid prevention technology are fitted as standard, while double cab models also get child proof rear door locks and ISOFIX mounting points for child car seats.
Price, value for money & options
Well priced compared to rivals, but equipment levels are quite low
The Ford Ranger is available with a range of specifications, starting with the entry-level Ranger and XL trims, which feel best suited to the building site. They are very basic, but do feature all the safety kit you’ll need, as well as an AUX audio input for your MP3 player. The XLT makes the Ranger a pick-up you’d want to drive home from work, with alloy wheels, heated windscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel controls and cruise control. Limited improves styling and functionality with larger wheels, an electric driver’s seat, folding door mirrors, dual-zone air-con and a Radio/CD player with colour screen. The top Ford Ranger Wildtrak specification brings 18-inch wheels, a rear-view camera, ambient lighting and sat-nav and is only available with a double cab body and 3.2-litre engine.
Sat-nav is an optional extra with the Limited trim level, while air-con is also an extra for XL models, when it should really be standard. Most other options allow you to customise the flat bed, with different designs of tonneau cover, which can lift up, or roll back and offer various levels of security. A hardtop with or without windows can also be added to make the Ranger even more practical, and of course, tow bars are very popular.
The Ranger is well priced next to its rivals and its competitive performance and recent design should ensure it holds its value very well, joining models including the Toyota Hilux, which is notorious for its desirability and high resale values on the used car market.