Ford Ranger pick-up
Price £19,035 - £31,589
- Huge load area
- Great build quality
- Smooth and powerful diesel engine
- Hard to park
- Cramped cabin
- Poor standard equipment
At a glance
"The Ford Ranger is a pick-up truck that can tow or carry huge loads, yet it's still as easy to drive as a car."
The third-generation Ford Ranger has been designed from scratch to dominate the booming pick-up truck market. While this is one of the most fun-to-drive models in its class, don't expect a family SUV alternative. The ability to carry very heavy loads means the Ranger has to have heavy-duty suspension, which makes the ride fairly bouncy. Still, the Ranger is more comfortable than most of its rivals.
The Ranger's standard 2.2-litre diesel enigne is available with either 123bhp or 148bhp, while there's also a range-topping 3.2-litre diesel with 197bhp and the ability to tow a braked trailer weighing up to 3,500kg. But the largest engine also has very high CO2 emissions, so it'll cost a fortune to run.
Different cab sizes and a large accessories catalogue allow you to customise the Ranger to suit your job and lifestyle, and while it's not quite as plush as a Volkswagen Amarok inside, it's more attractivelty styled than competitors such as the Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux. Just avoid the entry-level trim, which is better suited to a building site than a weekend away.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Ford Ranger is expensive to run due to poor fuel economy and high CO2 emissions
The Ford Ranger is designed primarily as a workhorse, capable of carrying and towing very heavy loads, so no version is as cheap to run as a family-focused SUV – let alone a normal small hatchback. The most efficent model is the 2.2-litre TDCi diesel Regular Cab with 123bhp and rear-wheel drive. It returns 39mpg and emits 192g/km of CO2, so road tax costs £265 a year. This sounds bad, but it’s better than most of the Ranger's rivals can manage.
Upgrading this version to four-wheel drive with a spacious Super Cab body sees fuel economy drop to 35mpg and CO2 emissions climb to 209g/km. The Toyota Hilux is slightly more economical with four-wheel drive fitted, managing 38.7mpg and emitting 194g/km of CO2.
Choosing the 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi engine doesn’t dramatically increase running costs, but the 3.2-litre TDCi is a different story. This engine makes the Ranger a force to be reckoned with, but fuel economy drops to 29.1mpg and CO2 emissions climb to 256g/km, placing it in the very highest road-tax bracket (£500 a year) for private users.
The Volkswagen Amarok is the Ranger’s closest competitor. 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 efficient version of the Mitsubishi L200 is capable of 36.7mpg and emits 204g/km of CO2.
While most SUVs are more economical, pick-up trucks are classed as commercial vehicles, so business drivers can claim back VAT and benefit-in-kind tax is lower than for conventional cars.
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 expect the Ranger to have the ride and handling of a conventional SUV, you're in for a bit of a shock. Pick-up trucks have to be fitted with simple, stiff rear suspension to cope with heavy loads, so they can bounce about a bit when the load bed is empty. But the Ford Ranger feels more car-like than most pick-ups, with more direct steering than a Nissan Navara. This means it’s more agile and fun to drive along a country lane, as well as 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 engine takes around 13 seconds to go from 0-62mph, but it's been set up for acceleration from low revs, so it feels very powerful. The 148bhp version adds to this, and makes the Ranger even better-suited to towing. With this engine, the car will do 0-62mph in either 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 when accelerating, but it settles down at constant speeds.
If you're serious about load-lugging, go for the 3.2-litre diesel engine with 197bhp and four-wheel drive as standard. This makes the Ranger feel very fast for a pick-up and perfect for towing heavy loads – 0-62mph is covered in just 10.3 seconds.
Interior & comfort
The Ford Ranger benefits from a supple ride and a decent interior – as long as you go for XLT trim or above
The Ranger's interior doesn’t feel as upmarket as the class-leading cabin of the Volkswagen Amarok, but it compares favourably with most of its rivals. There are more cheap, shiny plastics than you’ll find in an SUV, but they should stand up to wear and tear, which is more likely given the Ranger’s intended use. XL trim is particularly workmanlike, with none of the aluminium-effect highlights or finishes you’ll find in the XLT and Limited models and a simple LED display for the radio.
Regular, Super and Double cabs are available. The Regular Cab has two seats and a large load bed, while the Super Cab has small rear-hinged doors giving access to two fairly small rear seats. The Double Cab has four full-sized doors and three proper rear seats, although they still aren’t as spacious as what you’ll find in an SUV like the Nissan X-Trail.
All pick-up trucks have a tendency to bounce around when they're empty, because they have very stiff rear suspension to cope with heavy loads. The Ranger has a fairly comfortable ride for this class, however. It can get noisy at motorway speeds, though, as the upright body shape generates a lot of wind noise.
Practicality & boot space
If you need to carry heavy loads or tow a large trailer, the Ford Ranger is ideal
Depending on your requirements, you’ll need to compromise on either passenger space or load capacity. The Single Cab only has two doors and two seats, but this leaves you with a massive 2.3-metre-long load bed with a maximum capacity of up to 1,309kg (depending on the engine). The larger four-door, five-seat Double Cab obviously has more space for passengers, but reduces load-bed length to 1.5 metres and payload to a maximum of 1,179kg.
The Ranger's tailgate folds flat, but it’s a lofty 835mm off the ground on four-wheel-drive models, which can make loading heavy items difficult without suitable ramps or even a forklift truck.
The Ranger is an excellent tow car, particularly if you choose the 148bhp 2.2-litre TDCi engine with four-wheel drive, which can pull a 2,500kg braked trailer. The 3.2-litre TDCi is even better; it's certified to tow a 3,500kg braked trailer, which is more than its rival pick-ups can manage and a match for the very expensive Range Rover SUV.
Reliability & safety
Ford Ranger should prove dependable and five-star crash-test rating guarantees safety
The Ford Ranger should be extremely tough and has certainly been designed to take years of hard work in its stride. However, Ford 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, some pick-ups are a bit of an unknown quantity when it comes to safety. Luckily that’s not the case with the Ranger, which has been crash-tested by Euro NCAP. It was the first pick-up to achieve the maximum five-star rating, with a superb 96% score for adult occupant protection and an impressive 86% rating for child occupant protection. Not many other pick-ups have been tested, but the Volkswagen Amarok only scored four stars.
Seven airbags and electronic stability control are fitted as standard, while Double Cab models also get childproof rear door locks and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.
Price, value for money & options
Well priced compared to rivals, but equipment is pretty sparse
The Ford Ranger is available in a range of specifications, starting with the Ranger and XL trims. These feel best suited to the building site. as they're very basic, but they do feature all the safety kit you’ll need, as well as an MP3 player connection.
XLT trim tunrs the Ranger into a pick-up you’d be happy to drive home from work, with alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, Bluetooth phone connectivity and cruise control. Limited improves styling and functionality with larger wheels, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, folding door mirrors, dual-zone air-con and a colour screen for the stereo.
The top-of-the-range Ford Ranger Wildtrak model adds 18-inch wheels, a rear-view camera, ambient lighting and sat nav. It's only available with the Double Cab body and 3.2-litre engine.
Sat nav is an optional extra with the Limited trim level, while air-con is an extra on XL models, when it should really be standard. You can customise the load bed with different tonneau covers that 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 a tow bar is also available.
The Ranger is well priced compared to its rivals. Its strong performance and modern design should ensure it holds its value very well and matches the desirability of the Toyota Hilux on the second-hand market.