FIRST DRIVE – FORD RANGER
FORD has broken new ground with the latest generation of its rugged commercial off-roader the Ranger.
Once a no-holds-barred rough diamond of the pick-up truck market, the big bruiser has evolved into a polished gem.
That tough exterior, enhanced by some upmarket design features, remains, along with the ability to shift enough hardware to service a garden centre or builders yard.
But move inside and you could be in a top spec Mondeo or Galaxy.
The leisure pick-up scene represents serious business these days as more people look towards owning a heavy duty workhorse that can double as a comfortable, well appointed family lifestyle vehicle.
And the Ranger is genuinely the hardcore heavyweight with the soft centre.
Need to squelch through a quagmire, and the Ford copes with a minimum of fuss.
Switch to the motorway though and there’s a car-like ride with precise handling and plenty of punch.
While the new Ranger has the styling to make it stand out on American freeways, British motorways and French autoroutes alike, the top spec Double Cab Wildtrak – especially in dazzling orange metallic paint job – is a real head turner.
But then as the first commercial vehicle to be built under the global One Ford strategy, it is aimed at a worldwide market.
Available with both a single or more family-friendly double cab, four or two-wheel drive and in four trim grades, the Ranger has a choice of a 2.2-litre diesel engine producing either 125 or 150bhp and the tested 200bhp 3.2-litre TDCi.
Fuel economy, particularly from the stronger diesel, is nothing to shout home about, otherwise there’s proper value for money in every version.
A larger load box offers increased carrying volume with all cab styles, strong towing capacity ranging up to a best-in-class 3,350kg – and models with the 2.2-litre diesel have a payload capacity of up to 1,333kg.
And inside, the cabin boasts features like satellite navigation, Bluetooth with voice control and Rear View Camera System with a display integrated in the rear view mirror, which is unique in the pick-up class.
Safety measures see new side curtain airbags and thorax-protecting front-seat side airbags fitted as standard, along with the likes of Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control and Electronic Stability Programme.
While the new Ranger is designed to look powerful and confident, the Wildtrak version takes the sporty appearance even further, with a unique colour split on the front.
Sitting high on 18-inch alloys,it also comes with a roof rack and a sports hoop, exclusive Wildtrak badging and graphics.