Pick-ups, which have always sold well in the US, are growing in popularity in the UK, with the Ford Ranger being among the best sellers. Others include the Volkswagen Amarok, Mitsubishi L200, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux.
Unfortunately, as it's primarily a commercial vehicle, the Ranger isn’t especially comfortable, although it's better than most. Heavy-duty suspension that's intended to support big loads sees to that. It can be quite bouncy when the load bed is empty, too. However, if you need a serious workhorse with some family-carrying ability, this could be the car for you.
There are two 2.0-litre diesel engines to choose from: one producing 123bhp, the other 148bhp. Which one to go for depends on how hard you intend to work your Ranger. Either way, there's little between them in terms of fuel consumption and road tax. At the other extreme is a 3.2-litre diesel producing 197bhp and with the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes. But it has very high CO2 emissions and pretty poor fuel consumption for a diesel, so you’ll need to keep it in work to justify the running costs.
The Ranger is available in four body styles. The basic Regular Cab is the most practical. It has just two seats, but the longest load bed in the range. It's available in two or four-wheel drive. Next up is the Super Cab. It adds two extra doors and seats, although these are quite cramped – even Ford says they’re for ‘occasional’ use.
The Double Cab has five proper seats but the shortest load bed and is offered with four-wheel drive only. It's also the only version available with the 3.2-litre diesel, too, although the 148bhp 2.0-litre can also be specified. The fourth version, called the Chassis Cab, is aimed squarely at the commercial market and can be ordered with a wide variety of customised bodies to suit various applications.
Trim levels are XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak. The first is poorly equipped and more suited to hard work than carrying families in any style. XLT brings a few welcome features such as air-conditioning, Ford's excellent Quickclear heated windscreen, cruise control and alloy wheels. Limited – our recommended trim – brings the Ranger closer to SUV comfort levels, with rear parking sensors, dual-zone air-conditioning and leather seats (the driver's is power-adjustable). However, whichever Ford Ranger trim level you choose, the Volkswagen Amarok has a more upmarket feel and better interior quality.
The Ranger was the first pick-up to receive a five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP – even the tough VW Amarok only managed four stars. The Ranger's safety kit includes seven airbags, electronic stability control and emergency braking assistance.