The pick-up truck market has endured a rough ride in the past couple of years since its peak in 2007, but Ford is hoping to reignite some of that spark with its new Ranger.
It certainly looks the part – it’s sleek yet purposeful looks are a big improvement on its predecessor’s chunky styling, giving it a far more modern appearance which will appeal to the style-conscious lifestyle sector.
But the Ranger is not just for show, with Ford keen to stress that it is a serious option as a working vehicle.
And a wide range of choices and impressive statistics back this up – it comes with either two or four-wheel drive, 2.5 or 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engines, towing capacity for a 3,000kg braked trailer, four trim levels and three different body styles – single cab, super cab and double cab, offering two, four and five seats respectively.
Payloads range from 994kg for the 2.5 TDCi double cab auto to 1,160kg for the four-wheel drive 2.5 TDCi single cab.
The range has four trims – going from the base XL specification, through XLT and Thunder before the range-topping Wildtrack –
decorated with dashings of chrome, 18-inch alloy wheels and the level of standard equipment usually associated with an executive car.
The new Ranger also boasts optimised gear ratios.
First gear has been reduced by nearly 10% and second gear by approximately 7% over the outgoing model.
This change has been made for improved vehicle launch from standstill and slow traffic crawling at full gross train mass.
Ford expects that fleets’ focus will be on the 2.5-litre 143bhp four-wheel drive XL double cab.
Offering 30.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 255g/km, the XL costs £16,750 (ex-VAT) and combines serious off-road ability with a high level of practicality.
Standard equipment includes electric windows, electric door mirrors and remote central locking.
A chassis cab version is also available with a Ford tipper body.
Behind the wheel
If the Ranger’s aspirations of success in both the fleet and
lifestyle markets wasn’t clear from its exterior styling, then its interior leaves no room for any misunderstanding.
Swathes of chrome around the cabin lift the Ranger above mundane workhorse status and into the lifestyle vehicle bracket, while the quality of materials appear to be hard wearing enough to withstand the life of a working vehicle.
On the road our 2.5 TDCi test model performed well, with plenty of low-down power and a comfortable ride.
Although the noise from the engine never lets you forget you are driving a commercial vehicle, it was never too intrusive to be unpleasant.
Off-road, the Ranger again acquitted itself well - the steep climbs, pools and rocky terrain of the Knockhill circuit on the launch event proving no obstacle.
Don’t let the Ranger’s stylish lifestyle vehicle looks fool you – it is a tough, capable pick-up which should cope with anything a fleet driver could throw at it. Well-built, well-specified, practical and with a decent choice of body styles, engines and trim levels, there should be a Ranger to suit any fleet.