Ford has treated its new Ranger to a dose of testosterone with a tough new pair of cookies that move the muscle truck sector up another notch in the macho league – the Ranger Wildtrak (pictured) and Ranger Thunder 3.0-litre automatic.
The new 3.0-litre diesel powerplant complements the present 2.5-litre unit and ups the bhp from 143 to 156, while torque increases from 243lb-ft to 280lb-ft at 1,800rpm. This engine is mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox.
The Thunder auto features a tubular sports bar, chrome side sill bars and a rear chrome underbar.
There are also foglights with chrome surrounds, six-spoke 16in dished alloy wheels, leather seats, a six-CD player and air conditioning. Price is £19,972 ex-VAT
For those who want things a little more macho, the Wildtrak should fill most desires.
With the same 3.0-litre engine, it also features an aluminium over-rider, chrome rear protector bar, sports side steps and side vents, sports bar and roof rails and leather/Alcantara sports seats. Price is £20,872.
Behind the wheel
The new Ranger Wildtrak looks a stunner but it is hugely practical too.
For example, a plastic load-liner comes as a standard fitting and there are notches built into the mouldings so that users can compartmentalise the rear end by slotting in pieces of wood.
How clever is that?
Climbing aboard, the leather seats are big and comfortable, while there is plenty of legroom for rear passengers.
The engine starts up with a mighty roar which befits this vehicle, but it soon settles down to a meaty thrum which does not intrude into the cab.
Choosing between two-wheel drive high, four-wheel drive high and four- wheel drive low is carried out via a small plastic switch in the centre console.
It’s a far cry from those old second gear levers and hardly seems up to the job, although presumably it is.
We started off in the 3.0-litre Thunder automatic on some A-roads and motorways and it soon became clear that the stiff suspension set-ups of old, that threatened to loosen fillings on anything but snooker table-smooth roads, is a thing of the past.
While the suspension isn’t exactly soft, it’s something a driver could live with happily on a day-to-day basis.
We switched into four-wheel drive low for the off-road course and one hardier tester than me managed to crank the Ranger over to a sideways figure of 28 degrees without getting into trouble, although the guys from Ford looked more than a bit worried.
The simple fact is that this vehicle is capable of taking more punish- ment than most drivers will ever dare give it.
The Ranger is technically a commercial vehicle, so 22% taxpayers who choose it as a company car will pay just £55 for the privilege of driving it. Although it’s a mud-plugger, its road manners make it a vehicle you can live with day-to-day too.
Model: Ranger Thunder/Wildtrak
Power (bhp): 156/3,200
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 280/1,800
GVW (kg): 1,107
Prices (ex-VAT): £19,972/£20,872