Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
Pick-up trucks are becoming increasingly popular, not only with small business, but also families looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous SUV.
Ford has done pick-ups since God was a boy, or at least since the P100, based on Cortinas and then Sierras, which sold from the Seventies through to the Nineties and appeared around the globe.
Nowadays, the Ranger is more of a status symbol than a familiar sight on farms and building sites, but it remains a rugged, practical utility vehicle, with single and double cabs on offer. The range topper is the Wildtrak, at least until the bonkers Raptor version appears in the UK next year. But it’s a crowded market for the Ranger to thrive in: there’s the Mitsubishi L200, the VW Amarok, the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Fiat Fullback…..
We tested the Black Edition, 2.2 TDCi, with a six-speed automatic and double cab.
If you’re going for a pick-up for its looks, the Ranger Black Edition is undeniably the way forward. You get 17in “black panther” wheels, black front and rear bumpers, black sports bar and roof rails, black door handles and belt lines… it’s very big, very black, and very badass. Not, then, a vehicle for wallflowers.
At the back, the massive open load space is very black, as are the massive grab rails on the sides.
Inside, well, it’s black. Black leather, black floor mats, black plastic dash. You get heard front seats, rear-view camera (much needed when you’re trying to reverse out of a space and your rear bumper is essentially in a different postcode), front and rear parking sensors (ditto), and Ford SYNC 3 which is Ford’s updated connectivity system for voice control, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, AppLink, Emergency Assist and more. There’s a cool box in the centre console and heated door mirror with puddle lighting, which we always find useful for seeing if you’ve parked by water at night before you step out.
Ah. There’s the rub. If you want to replicate the feeling of discovering uncharted American forests and maybe felling a few trees in lumberjack style, you’ll really enjoy a pick-up, with its lack of power, huge bonnet, immensely high-up seating position, jacked-up suspension, enormous weight and ridiculous length. And, between you and us, we sort of do enjoy that driving from time to time, as long as we’ve nowhere to be in a hurry.
The Ranger 2.2 diesel has 160 horsepower pulling quite a lot of vehicle. Its top speed is 109mph and it’ll get to 62mph in 12.8 seconds. You’ll get about 30mpg out of it. But man, does it feel the part. Except in Waitrose carpark, when things can get a bit tricky space-wise, this is a great family vehicle for the weekends. The double cab isn’t compromised on space, with plenty of leg room for four adults, and we chucked four bikes in the massive, hard-wearing open rear space and set off into the forest for some downtime. Perfect.
A pick-up is a Marmite vehicle, and the Ford Ranger Black Edition parts the seas even further. It’s undoubtedly a look-at-me mode of transport, and isn’t going to get you anywhere very quickly at all. Its ride quality is so unapologetically agricultural it really belongs on American roads only. But, we say go large or go home, as far as trucks are concerned. The only pick-up we salivate over more than this one is the Raptor version, coming to shores near you in 2019.