Ford Ranger Platinum 2023 review: an intriguing alternative to an SUV
The Ford Ranger Platinum is a well-rounded upmarket pick-up, but it’s pricey as a result
The Platinum showcases the breadth of ability the current Ranger possesses. It’s not an obvious alternative to the SUV norm but the combination of a much-improved cabin, high levels of technology and the practicality of a pick-up bed means it’s an intriguing proposition. It is pricey, though, and while the driving experience is excellent for a pick-up, it’s still not quite as refined as most SUVs.
‘Pick-up truck’ and ‘premium’ are two words you don’t often find together, but the new Ford Ranger Platinum aims to combine these into one seamless offering. The Ranger is a good base for this as it’s currently the holder of our Pick-up of the Year, thanks in part to improvements to its interior and overall build quality.
Making an upmarket pick-up truck is no easy venture, though. Just ask Mercedes, whose ill-fated Nissan Navara-based X-Class quietly went off sale many years ago. The Platinum is expected to account for around eight per cent of total Ranger sales so there’s not a huge expectation there, but it is pitched as an alternative to the SUV market as well, where things become much more competitive.
Hans Schep, general manager of Ford Pro Europe clarified things at the Platinum’s reveal: “The new Platinum will suit customers who appreciate the level of comfort and technology from high-end road cars, but who rely on the toughness and all-round productivity.”
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As the most “luxurious” (Ford’s words) of the Ranger line-up, the Platinum features some exterior tweaks over the Wildtrak. You’d hope so, too, because it comes in at £6,550 more than the Wildtrak (with both fitted with the V6 diesel, the only powertrain available in the Platinum). The £45,900 Platinum has plenty of presence, but you wouldn’t say much more than the Wildtrak model.
There’s clear influence from the bigger F-150 from America, with the Ranger’s squared-off stance, C-shaped daytime running lights, big Ford oval badge, massive grille and imposingly bluff front end. Another trait borrowed from its stateside cousin is that the ‘Ranger’ nameplate is now stamped into the tailgate.
The Platinum builds on this new look with ‘Platinum’ badging across the leading edge of the bonnet (like you get on a Ranger Rover), chrome trim around the fog lights and across the grille, something called ‘Lighting Package Level B’, which is Ford’s uprated LED headlights, further chrome on the window trims and door handles, and 18-inch alloy wheels (ours was fitted with the £750 20-inch optional extras).
The exterior of the Platinum will appeal to those looking for something more eye-catching than a traditional family-friendly SUV, and there are some welcome extra amenities inside, too. Only available as a five-seat double-cab, the interior features heated and ventilated driver and passenger memory seats with 10-way power adjustment, a leather steering wheel, some wood grain trim and a Bang and Olufsen eight-speaker sound system. The 360-degree camera is very responsive and extremely helpful in a vehicle this size.
Overall, it’s a pleasant place to spend time. We thought the Wildtrak would be able to challenge plenty of upmarket SUVs for cabin quality, and that’s even more true of the Platinum. All the frequently-used touchpoints are clad in leather and even the hard plastics are well-screwed together, so it certainly doesn’t feel cheap in there. Adults sitting in the front or back will have plenty of space and there are also lots of storage areas dotted around.
The huge touchscreen is the main focal point to the dash. The 12-inch display uses Ford's latest SYNC 4 infotainment system and it’s one we’re quite happy using thanks to its easy to read layout and crisp resolution. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto take up the top half of the screen, which is a little strange but it means the climate controls and menu shortcuts are always within reach. The climate controls themselves are split between the touchscreen and some physical buttons below for functions like demisting, which is a little odd. The driver’s display has a wide range of readouts, with sat-nav, various trip computers and driving modes all configurable.
We’ve found the V6 diesel to be smoother than the 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit and it’s pretty refined, too. It’s not short of power with 237bhp and 600Nm, but the 10-speed automatic transmission feels like it’s a limiting factor when you’re accelerating hard: it’s not that the Platinum feels sluggish, it’s just not terribly responsive.
Our 700-mile test of the Platinum involved plenty of motorway driving, plus some manoeuvring around Heathrow’s daunting multi-storey car parks and some light off-roading. Unsurprisingly, the Platinum feels less suited to town driving than other environments. The tall front end and flat bonnet makes it difficult to judge where the front of the car ends, but the slab-sided body makes it a little easier to place within your lane. The 5,370mm length dwarfs even a Mercedes S-Class, so get used to protruding out of car park spaces.
The steering at low speed feels incredibly light, and combined with the soft suspension and high centre of gravity, you’ll find the Platinum wobbles around a fair bit. The faster you go the more settled it feels, however, and at motorway speeds the Platinum becomes a decent cruiser, despite the noticeable wind noise. We were pretty impressed by the Ranger’s ride on 18-inch wheels, and there’s really no discernible difference when you switch up to the 20-inch rims: there’s a bit of shuffling from the off-road tyres, but larger potholes and bumps are soaked up just as well as in most SUVs.
On-road refinement is almost on a par with many family SUVs (and potentially some luxury SUVs), but it’s off-road where the Ranger Platinum’s more utilitarian underpinnings shine through. The fairly self-explanatory driving modes range from Normal, Eco, Slippery, Mud and Sand with ‘Tow Haul’ for when you want to make use of the impressive 3,500kg towing capacity. We took the Platinum down a boggy lane which would’ve certainly caused a few SUVs to flounder, but the pick-up truck easily dealt with the conditions, with no sign of getting stuck.
Our depreciation figures of the new Ranger only extend to the Raptor currently, which has a pretty poor 45 per cent residual value after three years. That’s concerning for other Ranger models, but the performance-focused Raptor isn’t classed as an LCV and appeals to a more niche market. The Platinum’s huge 1,041kg payload means that, unlike the Ranger Raptor, the Platinum is classified as an LCV and should retain its value a little better.
Our test vehicle was also fitted with a rather swish powered roller shutter on the load bay that you can open and close with the key fob. At £1,800 excluding VAT, this feature doesn’t come cheap, however.
During our time with the Platinum, we tried it out in plenty of different environments and found it to be a smidge thirstier than the quoted 28mpg. The 24mpg we saw is probably a little unrepresentative, though, so if you’re careful, you could probably get quite close to the claimed economy figure.
|Model:||Ford Ranger Platinum|
|Price:||£45,900 (ex VAT)|
|Powertrain:||Turbocharged 3.0-litre V6|
|Transmission:||10-speed automatic four-wheel drive|