Ford Ranger pick-up review

Our Rating 
3.5
3.5/5.0
2016 model
By KinyuKinr Test TeamComments

The Ford Ranger appeals to business and lifestyle users, but it’s not the most economical pick-up

For 
Variety of models
Decent off-road
Safety kit
Against 
Feels big on UK roads
Thirsty engines
Towing capacity on some

It's not the best pick-up truck for sale in the UK, but the Ford Ranger is the UK's best seller. That's partly because Ford has a huge dealer network (the Ranger is sold via Ford's Transit Centres), while the Ranger itself is a chunky-looking pick-up that's packed with plenty of kit in top-spec variants. The double cab version is a great choice for business users wanting a work vehicle that offers family-friendly versatility when they've clocked off.

There's a broad choice of Ranger models, so you can count every pick-up truck for sale as a rival to the Ford. Utilitarian options include the Toyota HiluxIsuzu D-Max and SsangYong Musso, while the Mitsubishi L200Fiat Fullback and Nissan Navara offer ranges similar to the Ranger. At the top end of the pick-up truck spectrum, the VW Amarok is a close rival, but comes with V6 diesel power, while the Mercedes X-Class adds a premium edge that no other truck rival can match.

• Best pick-up trucks to buy now

The Ford Ranger comes in three body styles which Ford calls Regular Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab. The Regular is a single cab, Super Cab features an extended cab section with occasional rear seats and a single rear-hinged side door, while the double cab is a full five-seater. The Regular Cab has the longest load area and in some ways is a modern-day equivalent of the Cortina and Sierra-based Ford P100 pick-up trucks.

To emphasise the Ranger's range split, the Double Cab is the only version that comes in the four standard trims of XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak. The XL and XLT versions are the work-biased models, and the Regular Cab is only offered in XL trim, while the Super Cab comes in XL, XLT and Limited versions.

If you're looking at a Ranger as an alternative to an SUV, then the Limited and Wildtrak trims have all the kit you'd ever need. The Ranger lifts many of its goodies from the passenger car range, so you get Ford's Sync3 voice control and infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, electric heated door mirrors, rear parking sensors, heated leather seats and alloy wheels.

2019 sees the arrival of the Ranger Raptor, a performance version of the Ranger that was developed in Australia. It features a 210bhp 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel, a 10-speed auto, updated looks and suspension designed to deliver a more involving drive than the regular model.

Power for the regular range comes from two engines, a 2.2 TDCi Duratorq four-cylinder in 130PS and 160PS guises, or a 3.2 TDCi 200PS five-cylinder: the latter is the only engine choice for the Ranger Wildtrak. All Double Cab models get a six-speed manual gearbox with stop-start and selectable four-wheel drive as standard, while a six-speed auto is available on Limited and Wildtrak models, although this does without stop-start.

Of course the main benefit of the Ranger, and any pick-up - especially the more expensive versions - is that they currently qualify for a flat-rate of Benefit In Kind tax rate for business users. These models must have a one-tonne payload to qualify, and if they do, then they are classed as a light commercial vehicle, which means a flat rate of tax is paid that's a lot less than it would be for a similarly priced or specced SUV. If you can justify running a truck as a business vehicle, then the Ford Ranger is a great choice in terms of looks and kit. And besides, it's the biggest 4x4 that Ford sells.

MPG and Running Costs

3.7

The Ford Ranger has never been the most efficient pick-up, but improvements have been made to the current model that boost fuel economy by up to 17 per cent. Ford added auto Start-Stop to the manual model (not the auto) and Electric Power Assisted Steering, while a choice of final drive ratios supplement the changes made to the Ranger’s engines.

The Ranger comes with a choice of two power units, the four-cylinder 2.2-litre TDCi offering 158bhp or a 3.2-litre five-cylinder TDCi unit delivering 197bhp. The 3.2-litre engine is only available in Wildtrak models and it’s only the Ranger Double Cabs that can be matched with the six-speed automatic gearbox.

In addition, the Ranger Raptor gets a 2.0 Ecoblue diesel, which is smaller yet more powerful than the Wildtrak's five-cylinder motor. It makes 210bhp and 500Nm of torque, which gives the Ranger Raptor a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds. That's not blindingly quick, but means it feels sprightly. In addition, the Ranger Raptor has a 10-speed auto similar to that seen in the Mustang and updated Transit.

The Ranger’s best combined fuel economy of 43.5mpg comes from the 2.2 TDCi model in Super or Double Cab form with the 3.15 final drive ratio. These models give you CO2 emissions of 171g/km but they lower the Ranger’s towing capacity to just 1,800kg.

If you want the Ranger’s class-leading maximum braked trailer towing weight of 3,500kg you’ll need the 3.55 final drive ratio, which results in a drop in fuel economy to 39.8mpg with 185g/km emissions. However, if you are looking for the most economical Ranger to tow with, you will need a 2.2 TDCi model in Super or Double Cab form with the 3.15 final drive ratio. These models give you CO2 emissions of 171g/km but they lower the Ranger’s towing capacity to just 1,800kg.

Beyond that is the five-cylinder 3.2-litre engine option, which gets 34mpg with the six-speed manual gearbox or 31.7mpg and 234g/km with the automatic. Whichever Ranger you choose, you'll find economy is slightly shy of more frugal models like the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200

In comparison, the Ranger Raptor has claimed economy of 34.5mpg, which is reasonable considering its more powerful engine.

All Rangers come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is nothing special in this day and age. That said, there is a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and a year of Ford Assistance breakdown cover thrown in.

Insurance groups range from 9 to 41, demonstrating the broad choice of models that are on offer. All Ranger models get a Thatcham Category One alarm, a PATS immobiliser and shielded door locks as standard. Insurance groups for the Ranger Raptor have yet to be confirmed, but are likely to push that maximum group rating even higher.

Load Space and Practicality

4.5

The Ranger offers a model for every application. The Regular Cab is a traditional two-seater pick-up with the biggest carrying capacities in the range. It’ll take a 1,296kg gross payload and has a maximum load length of 2,317mm.

Step up to the Super Cab and you gain a pair of small rear seats, but these are more likely to be used as secure storage space for tools or materials than for people. The payload drops to between 1,070kg and 1,230kg here, depending on the model, and the load length is 1,847mm.

The Double Cab Rangers will be the big sellers, offering a 1,549mm load length with payloads varying between 1,070kg and 1,199kg. If you run out of room there’s the potential to tow a braked trailer of up to 3,500kg – but remember that choosing the lesser 3.15 final drive ratio blunts that towing potential significantly to 1,800kg.

As is the norm in the pick-up sector, Ford offers a huge array of accessories that let Ranger customers adapt their trucks to the ways they’ll be using them. Flick through the brochure and you’ll find everything from liners to protect the steel load bed, to full-on hard-top covers that effectively turn your Ranger Double Cab into SUV. There’s also the C-channel cargo management system that’s fitted to higher spec models, a bike carrier and, of course, a manufacturer fitted tow bar.  

Reliability and Safety

4.5

The Ford Ranger has always been near to the top of the pick-up class in terms of safety. This model achieved a full five-star Euro NCAP rating when originally tested it in 2012, and now the facelift has added an arsenal of electronic driver aids to improve matters further. 

All Rangers get driver, passenger, thorax and driver’s knee airbags a collapsible steering column and an advanced ESC stability control system. This includes Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Load Adaptive Control, Roll-over Mitigation and Trailer Sway Control so the truck is fully tooled-up in terms of technology to keep it on the straight and narrow.

Beyond this, the Driver’s Assistance Pack (which costs around £1,350) adds advanced technologies like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Auto High Beam headlights, Traffic Sign Recognition and Collision Mitigation.

While there have been a few reports of engine-starting problems and of driveshaft joints failing, there have been few reported problems with the Ranger’s long-term reliability. With Ford having more dealers than any other manufacturer, you're never far from a franchised outlet for service and spares if required, although you might not necessarily get a decent level of customer service if our Driver Power survey is to be believed. It finished 27th out of 32 manufacturers in our 2016 rundown. However, that score is for car retailers, rather than Ford's Transit Centres, where the Ranger is sold.

Driving and Performance

4.6

The Ranger is a good bet from a driver’s perspective, although the latest Mercedes X-Class is a far better choice if you're looking for a pick-up that delivers SUV-style comfort. In comparison, the Ranger bounces around, but the electric power steering is particularly good for a pick-up in terms of its weight and responsiveness. This is all relative, of course, and anyone jumping from a large SUV into the Ranger is going to notice the choppy feel on even moderate surfaces.

The engines are strong, particularly if you opt for the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel that sets the standard in the UK pick-up class with 197bhp and 470Nm. It’ll do the 0-62mph sprint in 10.6 seconds with the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, though it's the slightly slower manual (10.9s) that's expected to account for 70 per cent of sales. The problem with the 3.2-litre model is the noise. The five-cylinder engine puts out a rough grumble under load that only reduces a little when it warms up.

But the 158bhp 2.2-litre, four-cylinder option is noticeably smoother and less intrusive. It has 375Nm of torque, takes 11.8s to hit 0-60mph and can reach the same 109mph top speed as the bigger-engined car. Unless you’re carrying a big load, there’s very little difference in normal driving so the 2.2-litre would probably be our pick.

The Ford Ranger has the full package as far as off-road equipment is concerned, and it all adds up to make for good all-terrain performance. The electronically-controlled 4x4 transmission fitted to most models allows you to shift between two and four-wheel-drive modes on the move via a small dial on the centre console. There’s also a low range 4x4 mode that’ll be useful if you plan on testing the Ranger’s 28-degree approach angle or class-leading 800mm wading depth.

With almost 30cm of ground clearance, Hill Descent Control and Hill-Start Assist the Ranger is always going to be a capable in the rough stuff. The optional Off-road Pack, however, adds a locking rear differential as well as extra protection for the underside to make it a great choice for buyers who’ll be taking their truck off-road on a frequent basis. 

The Ranger Raptor is designed to be an even more capable off-roader. It gets coil spring rear suspension to help it soak up bumps better, as opposed to carrying heavy loads, and Ford is plugging the new model as an off-road focused machine. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case, as the Ranger Raptor only arrives in the UK in 2019.

Cab and Interior

4.5

The Ford Ranger’s interior is relatively upmarket by pick-up standards, you get tough plastics and plenty of storage, but there’s Ford passenger car switchgear to raise the tone, and higher spec variants pile on lots of technology features.

The instrument cluster features digital colour displays either side of the main analogue dial, presenting lots of useful information, However, some of the readouts are quite small for viewing at a glance.

The same goes for some of the buttons, which despite being pleasing on the eye, are a bit fiddly to use. There’s a decent-sized glovebox, a wide door pocket in each of the doors a big bin under the central armrest – although the lid shuts with a horrible plasticy clang.

Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system features an eight-inch screen. It has a bright interface that’s easy to see while on the move, especially with that big screen, and the standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality is a big .

The built-in sat-nav is a lot more intuitive than the Mitsubishi L200’s system, but the fact that you can use your smartphone interface instead without paying for that functionality is a bonus.

Steering wheel controls and a standard six-speaker stereo are a match for its rivals, there’s a reversing camera on Limited models. You also get parking sensors as standard, for which you have to pay extra on both the Mitsubishi and the Volkswagen. There are USB and Aux connections for your music, too. Voice control is standard on the system as well; this lets you control various functions without distraction.

In terms of cabin space, the Ranger also does reasonably well, although it isn’t quite as roomy in the back as the Nissan Navara. The seats are set quite high so there’s no need to bunch your knees up in the rear and there’s just about room for a six-foot adult to sit behind a similarly-sized driver – although both leg and head room are tight.

In the back of higher spec models you get a couple of cup holders in the fold-down armrest and seat back pockets for extra storage, but climbing out over the Ranger’s wide side steps can be tricky. 

The Ranger’s specification varies widely according to which trim level you choose. At base XL level you get steel wheels but also useful features like Ford’s Easy-Fuel refuelling system, heated electric mirrors and a DAB radio.

The XLT grade adds 16-inch alloy wheels more creature comforts including air-conditioning, cruise control, auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers. Things really take a step upmarket with the Limited model where you get leather trim and Ford’s SYNC2 voice control and touchscreen tech takes the place of the SYNC1 control system on the XLT. The bigger screen and clear menu system are infinitely preferable.

At the top of the Ranger line-up is the Wildtrak with its 18-inch wheels and Titanium-effect exterior trim. At this level buyers get the whole nine yards, including Wildtrack logos festooned all over the shop, satellite navigation, a rear-view camera and coloured ambient lighting for the interior.

Van dimensions

Body styleHeightWidthLength
Single cab 4x41,800mm1,860mm5,277mm
Super cab 4x41,804mm1,860mm5,362mm
Double cab 4x41,815mm1,860mm5,362mm

Load area dimensions

Body styleDepthWidthLength
Single cab 4x4511mm1,560mm2,317mm
Super cab 4x4511mm1,560mm1,847mm
Double cab 4x4511mm1,560mm1,549mm

(Widths are maximum, width between wheel arches is 1,139mm)

Specifications

  • Power: 158bhp – 197bhp
  • Weight (GVW): 3,200kg
  • Payload: 1,007kg – 1,269kg
  • Loading height (approx, unladen) : 835mm
Last updated: 
26 Nov, 2018