The third-generation Ford Ranger has been designed from scratch to dominate the booming pickup truck market. While this is one of the most fun-to-drive models in its class, don't expect it to be a proper alternative to a family SUV.
Despite the some of the trappings of more luxurious models, the Ranger is a commercial vehicle at heart. That means an ability to carry heavy loads is essential. And for that to happen, it needs heavy-duty suspension, which means it has a tendency to bounce over bumps rather than glide over them.
Even though the Ranger is more comfortable than most of its rivals, including the Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux, you still need to be committed to drive it as an everyday car. But for drivers who need load-lugging ability, there are few better alternatives.
The Ranger's standard 2.2-litre diesel engine is available with either 123bhp or 148bhp. It's hard to recommend one over the other, because it largely depends on how much hauling capacity you need. There's little difference in fuel consumption.
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.
Four different body styles are available. The Regular Cab is available with two or four-wheel drive, has two doors and two seats and the longest load bed of all Rangers. There's also a Super Cab version, which has four doors, the rear of which open in reverse. Inside are what Ford describes as ‘occasional’ rear seats.
The Double Cab offers the most space for passengers, but has the shortest load bed. It sports four doors and five seats and is available with four-wheel drive only. A fourth version, called Chassis Cab, offers almost limitless potential for customisation but is aimed squarely at the specialist commercial operator.
There are four trim levels available: XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak, and there's a wide range of customisation options to suit your lifestyle or job. While it's not quite as plush as a Volkswagen Amarok inside, the Ranger is more attractively 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.
We recommend the Limited model if you're using it for more than just a workhorse, because its smattering of chrome trim, roll bar, electrically operated leather seats and parking sensors makes the Range feel a little less utilitarian.