Ford Ranger 2.2-litre TDCi XLT road test

  • We drive Ford's all-new Ranger pick-up
  • 2.2-litre diesel capable of averaging 33.5mpg
  • On sale now for £23,234 including VAT

The pick-up truck market is becoming increasingly competitive.

It's packed with long-standing and successful models like the Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux.

So, the new Ford Ranger has its work cut out if it's going to be in the best-sellers list.

More and more people are looking for "dual-purpose" pick-ups, which can be used for both private and commercial use. Other manufacturers, such as Volkswagen with its Amarok, have chimed in with more comfortable and upmarket models as a result.  

The Ranger isn't a new model but this, the third generation, has been entirely redesigned from the ground up. The previous model was a tough, reliable pick-up but lacked sophistication and was definitely more of a working vehicle.  

To help the new Ranger appeal to a wider audience, a considerable amount of development and design work has been carried out.

Externally, it has received modern styling. It looks aggressive, and most will recognise it as an American pick-up - despite the fact it was designed in Australia. It's taller and longer than the majority of conventional saloons, but you might be surprised to find that it's narrower than a Ford Mondeo.

Inside, the interior is much more like that of a standard car. Buyers will feel immediately at home, as many elements are similar to those found in Ford cars like the Focus. It's a well configured cabin that's comfortable, well-equipped and practical. Ford hasn't quite created a full-on premium pick-up, as there are still the odd few cheaper-feeling plastics, but it's impressively refined for what many would see as a commercial vehicle.

This version, the Double Cab, comes with seating for five. There's plenty of room, even for adults in the back, and longer trips shouldn't prove problematic. Each seat gets a three-point inertial reel seatbelt which, besides being safer in an accident, should help keep people secure and comfortable if you do wander off-road.

Buyers will benefit from the XLT's wide range of equipment. It includes a CD player, an auxiliary and USB connection, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, heated electric mirrors, air-con, automatic headlamps and rain sensing wipers, a Thatcham Category 1 alarm system, remote central locking and electric windows. A range of options are also available, should you want even more creature comforts.

Under the bonnet lies a 2.2-litre 'Duratorq' diesel engine, which generates a useful 148bhp and 375Nm of pulling power. This allows the Ranger to accelerate from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds, and on to a top speed of 109mph. The engine is coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, which is precise and has a short action - unlike other pick-ups which tend to have vague gearshifts.

The engine is satisfyingly capable, and offers plenty of pulling power. Even at idle it's quite happy to tick along in second and third gear, which is particularly useful off-road. It can be quite noisy when you accelerate hard, and it does have that characteristic diesel clatter at points, but it settles down once up to speed and is certainly no noisier than competitor's engines. Fuel economy is a claimed average of 33.5mpg.

Power is delivered primarily to the rear wheels, and four-wheel drive mode is engaged with the simple twist of a dial. There's even a low-range crawler setting for heavy-duty towing or off-roading.

On the road, the Ranger is impressive. The steering doesn't offer much in the way of feedback but it's well weighted and relatively precise. This, combined with the tight turning circle and good visibility, makes the Ford easy to manoeuvre. It also rides well, even at speed, while grip and traction levels are high. Compared to its rivals, the Ranger feels more confident in corners and less prone to reacting unexpectedly over bumps or slippy surfaces.  

It's also very safe, and was the first pick-up to receive the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. As well as the usual safety systems such as ABS and multiple airbags, the Ranger also comes with an advanced electronic stability control package and traction control. Its stability control system includes features such as a hill descent control, hill start assist, trailer sway assist and roll over mitigation. These help keep the Ranger in check and make it both easy to drive and masterful off road.

All of this makes the Ranger a pick-up that you could live with on a daily basis, without overly compromising on important elements like ride quality, refinement and equipment.

The Ford Ranger XLT Double Cab 4x4, with the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine, is available to order now for £23,234 including VAT.

To read more about the new Ford Ranger, click here.

Also consider:

Nissan Navara

The Navara's one of the most popular pick-ups. It's relatively car-like and offers a wide range of options and equipment.

Toyota Hilux

"Indestructible" is a word that's often associated with Toyota's Hilux. It's reliable, well-built and cheaper to run than some rivals.

Volkswagen Amarok

The big Volkswagen is efficent, safe and a little more modern than some of the competition.