Pickup trucks have long been associated with the US in the UK but in recent years they have begun to become more popular, as farmers and tradespeople see the appeal next to the more traditional choices of 4x4s and vans respectively. The Ford Ranger has helped in driving pickup sales, along with rivals including the Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amarok, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux.
The latest Ranger hit showrooms in 2009 but it was given a thorough update in 2016 in response to new Navara and L200 models.
Pickups have become more comfortable, which partly explains why they’re finding a wider customer base, but it's still clear that the Ranger is primarily intended as a workhorse. While the steering is relatively accurate, the fact that the rear suspension is set up to carry heavy loads means that when unladen, the Ranger is prone to bouncing around at the back. Both the Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara are more comfortable by comparison.
Ranger buyers have a choice of two diesel engines. One is a 148bhp 2.2-litre, while the other is a 197bhp 3.2-litre engine. Contrary to what you might expect, the smaller engine is actually the smoother of the two, sending less vibration and noise into the interior of the cab. It's cheaper to run than the 3.2-litre as well, though no more economical than rivals in the real world.
While the bigger 3.2-litre engine makes the Ranger as quick as many SUVs thanks to a 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds, and it gives it impressive pulling power for carrying and towing loads, it is quite rough and rattily, especially when you work it hard or when it's cold.
There are three Ford Ranger bodystyles on offer called Regular Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab. The entry-level Regular Cab has the biggest load bay and is intended for work rather than leisure, so the capacity comes at the expense of rear seats.
The Super Cab adds rear doors and some ‘occasional’ rear seats but there isn’t a lot of space and we wouldn’t recommend this model if you want to transport people in the back regularly.
The best choice for those with families is the Double Cab, which has five proper seats. This does mean, however, that it has the smallest load area out of the three.
As with the bodystyle choices, the trim levels offer something for people who want their Ranger more for work, or more for leisure. The XL and XLT models are more for people using the truck for work, so they come with fairly basic equipment. The XL is the only model offered with two-wheel drive and as a Regular Cab.
The third and fourth trim levels, called Limited 2 and Wildtrak, offer many more creature comforts like leather trim, climate control and rear parking sensors. The flagship Wildtrak model has luxuries like sat-nav, ambient lighting and a rear-view camera.
The Limited 2 is available as a Super or Double Cab, while the Wildtrak only comes as a Double Cab with the bigger of the two engines.
The Ranger is actually the only pickup to get the full five-star crash-safety rating from Euro NCAP (even the Navara and Amarok only managed four). The Ranger comes with seven airbags, traction, control, stability control and anti-lock brakes as standard, as well as an emergency braking system.