Ford Ranger pick-up review

Our Rating: 
4.3
4.3/5.0
2016 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Ford Ranger pick-up offers a varied range, tough build and plenty of practicality but fuel economy could be better

For: 
Wide range, good off-road, safety kit
Against: 
Thirsty engines, refinement, towing capacity in eco-versions

The current Ford Ranger was launched in 2011 but this is the latest 2016 facelifted model that’s benefited from a package of nips, tucks and tweaks - and not before time. We’re not saying that the Ranger was in desperate need of an overhaul, just that the UK pick-up sector is on the move and Ford needed to make sure the Ranger kept pace.

So the Ranger now has a new look with grille and headlights mirroring the latest Ford passenger car family face plus an upgraded interior. Of more relevance than the cosmetic changes is the package of technology and active safety upgrades including Ford’s SYNC2 navigation and connectivity system on the higher spec cars. Then there are efficiency improvements including engine tweaks, stop-start and an electric power steering system. Ford even adjusted the suspension to improve the on-road drive.

The Ford Ranger covers all the pick-up truck bases with three bodystyles: the single cab, the extended Super Cab and the full size Double Cab. There are both two-and four-wheel drive versions, manual and automatic transmissions plus a choice of two diesel engines. Most models are fitted with the four-cylinder 158bhp 2.2-litre TDCi but there’s always the option of the 3.2-litre five-cylinder unit that puts out 197bhp.

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In terms of trim levels the Ranger offers the XL and XLT models to cater for buyers more interested in toughness and durability but the Limited and Wildtrak variants have more luxurious specifications for people who want a truck to double as family transport.

Ford’s upgrades to the Ranger were announced at an unusually busy time for the pick-up sector in the UK with the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 having launched all new models and the likes of the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok having a new version and a facelift respectively in the pipeline.

Ford aims to compete on a technology footing and also with its excellent 3.5-tonne maximum towing weight. It drives well, with the steering particularly well judged, while the cabin is practical and sturdily built. Less impressive is the fuel economy that still falls behind top rivals despite recent upgrades and the engine refinement. 

MPG and Running Costs

3.7

The Ford Ranger has never been able to count efficiency as a particular strong point but improvements have been made to the latest model that boosts fuel economy by up to 17 per cent. Ford added Auto-Start-Stop, Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) and a choice of final drive ratios to the range to supplement the changes made to the Ranger’s engines.

The Ranger comes with a choice of two power units, the 4-cylinder 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi offering 158bhp or a 3.2-litre 5-cylinder Duratorq TDCi unit delivering 197bhp. The 3.2-litre engine is only available in Double Cab models and it’s only the Ranger Double Cabs that can be matched with the 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The Ranger’s best combined fuel economy of 43.5mpg comes from the 2.2-litre 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 and economy will drop to 39.8mpg with 185g/km emissions.

These figures are for manual Rangers, the automatic gearbox takes combined cycle economy down to 35.3mpg with emissions of 209g/km. Beyond that is the 3.2-litre engine option which gets 34mpg with the 6-speed manual gearbox or 31.7mpg and 234g/km with the automatic. Whichever Ranger you choose, it’s economy is going to be a little behind the likes of the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200

All Rangers come with a 3-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is nothing special in this day and age but there is a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and a year of Ford Assistance breakdown cover thrown in.

Insurance groups range from 9E to 12E while all Ranger models get a Thatcham Category One alarm, a PATS immobiliser and shielded door locks as standard.  

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 in the cab that are more likely to be used as secure storage space for tools or materials. 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 and they offer a 1,549mm load length with payloads varying between 1,070kg and 1,199kg. If you run out of room in that load area, there’s the potential to tow a braked trailer of up to 3,500kg in weight but remember that choosing the more economical 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 turn your Ranger Double Cab into something approaching a full-on 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 too.  

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 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 plus 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 (a £1,350 option) 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.

Driving and Performance

4.6

The Ranger is a good bet from a driver’s perspective. Its ride comfort and body control are competitive if not class-leading 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 passenger car 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 5-cylinder diesel that sets the standard in the UK pick-up class with 197bhp and 470Nm. It’ll do the 0-62mph sprint in 10.6s with the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox (10.9s with the 6-speed manual) that’s expected to account for 30% of sales. The problem with the 3.2 is the noise. The 5-cylinder engine puts out a rough grumble under load that only reduces a little when it warms up. The 158bhp 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder option is noticeably smoother and less intrusive. It has 375Nm of torque, takes 11.8s to hit 60mph and can reach the same 109mph top speed as the 3.2. 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 299mm of ground clearance, Hill Decent Control and Hill-Start Assist the Ranger is always going to be a capable in the rough. 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 daily basis. 

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 looks great with digital colour displays either side of the main analogue dial and it presents a lot of information, but some of the digital 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 plus a big bin under the central armrest – although the lid shuts with a horrible plasticy clang.

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 6ft adult to sit behind a 6ft 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 arm rest 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” alloy wheels plus 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 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” 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 style Height Width Length
Single cab 4x4 1,800mm 1,860mm 5,277mm
Super cab 4x4 1,804mm 1,860mm 5,362mm
Double cab 4x4 1,815mm 1,860mm 5,362mm

Load area dimensions

Body style Depth Width Length
Single cab 4x4 511mm 1,560mm 2,317mm
Super cab 4x4 511mm 1,560mm 1,847mm
Double cab 4x4 511mm 1,560mm 1,549mm

(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: 22 Mar, 2016