The Ford Ranger competes against pick-up stalwarts like the Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max for honours in an increasingly hard-fought market. Once the preserve of builders and farmers, pick-ups now serve a wider community of non-commercial thrill-seekers looking for a rugged vehicle to carry lots of kit. Choose from two seats or four, or opt for the high-performance Raptor version for a massive dose of fun.
“Undoubtedly, the cheapest way to own a Ranger is as a business user”
There’s such a wide range of engines, trims and single- or double-cabs to choose from that averaging out running costs is tricky. Obviously, the smaller the engine, the cheaper your total running costs will be when you include fuel and insurance. And, undoubtedly, the cheapest way to own a Ranger is as a business user. As long as the vehicle can carry one tonne of load it qualifies for flat rate Benefit In Kind so, even if you go for a high-powered, high-trim version, you’ll still pay the same in tax. This could work out much cheaper than an equivalent SUV loaded up with all the toys, though the Raptor version doesn’t qualify. In terms of the day-to-day the 2.0-litre diesel model with a single cab gives you your best fuel savings.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Ford Ranger
“Ford does well in reliability surveys with few reported build quality issues”
A year’s worth of Ford roadside cover comes with every new Ranger, alongside a very humdrum 60,000-mile/three-year warranty that’s nothing to shout about in the context of what direct rivals offer. But Ford does well in reliability surveys with few reported build quality issues, and most of what’s inside the Ranger comes from other popular Ford products. Plus, the Ranger is built to withstand near destruction, and you do get a 12-year anti-perforation warranty as well as a massive customer network for repairs.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Ford Ranger
“Hill start assist is standard to stop you rolling away when you come off the clutch, as is trailer-sway control when towing”
You get a far-reaching view of the road ahead (as well as into neighbouring gardens), which helps with anticipating hazards, as well as a huge amount of metalwork surrounding you and ferociously grippy tyres. Rear parking sensors help, of course, but that load bay is so long it’s the first time we’ve really wanted a reversing camera. A quick Google of the number of after-market offers to fit one show how many other drivers think the same. Thankfully, hill start assist is standard to stop you rolling away when you come off the clutch, as is trailer-sway control when towing and tyre pressure sensors. Pay extra and you get the driver assistance pack, which includes active cruise control - an absolute pleasure on long motorway journeys - as well as lane-keeping assist to stop you swerving unintentionally out of your lane, and a collision-mitigation warning system.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Ford Ranger
“Our kids adored having to clamber up and, once aboard, were as comfortable as they’d be in any family SUV”
The double-cab pick-up is an unexpected thing of joy for your average family. Our kids adored having to clamber up and, once aboard, were as comfortable as they’d be in any family SUV, with plenty of head- and legroom. When parked on the drive the whole vehicle doubled up as some sort of Go Ape adventure with a camp set up in the load bay, so you could perhaps count savings on days out to expensive adventure playgrounds and soft play centres as a win on running costs. On the move we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it is to drive on the motorway, with relatively little road and wind noise bothering occupants and light steering. OK, the gear change is longer and a little stiffer than in most cars, but no matter. There are also loads of great storage areas inside, like room for sunglasses in the roof, and extra panels in the dash plus space in the doors and a map pocket on the back of the driver’s seat.
Expert rating: 3/5
Features of the Ford Ranger
“We had a version of the familiar infotainment system we know from Ford’s passenger cars, which is easy to use but the graphics and display have aged”
Inside our Wolftrak-spec double-cab test vehicle (you can get a Single Cab and a Super Cab, which is a sort of halfway house, with an occasional rear bench) we had a version of the familiar infotainment system we know from Ford’s passenger cars, which is easy to use but the graphics and display have aged quite a lot. But it does include the expected DAB radio, smartphone mirroring and sat-nav. We also had rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, heated windscreen and rear window, a cargo box power socket, locking tailgate and Thatcham security system. The Ranger’s benefits are more functional than luxurious, as befits its purpose. From its huge range of accessories you can choose from hard-top covers to extra load-bay linings and cargo-management systems, as well as a tow bar or even bike carrier.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Ford Ranger
“Although there are more powerful engine options you can trundle in peace and quiet quite happily all day in this base 170 horsepower version”
The 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel we tested is probably the one to go for, unless you’re mad keen on the high-performance Raptor and are willing to accept the higher purchase cost and tax as the price you pay for the fun it prioritises. Back in the real world although there are more powerful engine options you can trundle in peace and quiet quite happily all day in this base 170 horsepower version, rocking around on the jacked-up suspension, eating up the miles with no stress and plenty of satisfaction be they rough or smooth. The rougher the better, to be fair, given this is the Ranger’s happy place thanks to its low-range mode and ease with which you can switch between two- and four-wheel drive according to what you’re driving over. Parking it in town is substantially less fun, however. The width isn’t an issue but the length takes some getting used to. It’s worth persevering, just for the satisfaction of buying a family car that’s not an SUV.