It’s not hard to see why Ford’s Ranger remains one of the UK’s most popular pick-ups, says Dan Gilkes.
The latest figures may show a slight slowdown in the UK pick-up market, but it remains a surprisingly healthy sector of the LCV arena. The appeal of the double cab in particular, with ever-more impressive trim levels and specifications, continues to attract business buyers, keen to cash in on the reclaimable VAT element and relatively low BiK rates on offer.
With more competition than ever, as both Renault and Mercedes join the market this year, Ford’s Ranger is among the sector leaders. Ford hasn’t forgotten its working roots and Ranger is still offered in single and super cab layouts, with the single cab available with either 4×2 or 4×4 drive.
However, the 4×4 double cab remains the big seller, with the higher trim levels taking the lion’s share of sales. Likewise, though Ford offers Ranger with a 160hp 2.2-litre diesel engine (130hp in 4×2 models), a high percentage of buyers go for the unusual 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine, delivering 200hp and 470Nm of torque.
Of course those numbers are being surpassed, with Volkswagen offering a 3.0-litre V6 and Mercedes also promising to top the power league next year with its own V6 engine.
That’s not to say that the big five-cylinder motor doesn’t provide a relaxed drive. When combined with a six-speed automatic transmission it becomes a very refined companion, capable of pushing the truck smoothly along in any traffic situation.
The move to Euro 6 emissions standards also seems to have boosted Ranger’s economy, with the truck easily matching Ford’s claimed combined figure of 32.1mpg. Admittedly that and the 231g/km of CO2 are hardly ground breaking figures, but they are an improvement on Rangers that we’ve driven in the past, though the big Ford’s service intervals and warranty terms are somewhat behind the market norm these days.
Our test truck’s Limited specification is second only to the Wildtrak, but without some of the more in your face styling touches of the range-topper. It’s still not a truck for shrinking violets, but it comes with pretty much everything you need in a slightly more subtle package.
Ford’s latest 8” touchscreen with SYNC 3 control of sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio dominates the dash and works well. It is certainly more impressive than the main dash, which has a relatively small speedo with two compact side screens that offer access to fuel consumption and other data. While the information is generally clear, they seem a little small for such a big cab, overlapping in some layouts.
Ranger provides a comfortable ride, even unladen and the truck’s physical size and weight delivers a real sense of security in bad weather, sitting four-square against the worst of the elements. The big Ford feels equally dominant when you venture off-road, with electronic switching between two and four-wheel drive and high and low ranges. An optional off-road pack (£360) adds engine, transfer box and fuel tank protection, along with a rear axle differential lock for ultimate traction.
What we think
If you want a sturdy pick-up with good specification and 3.5-tonne towing capability, Ford’s Ranger Limited fits the bill.