Ford Ranger review
The Ford Ranger is a utilitarian pickup truck that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, including a fast Raptor off-road model. But alternatives are more powerful and have plusher interiors.
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The Ford Ranger is a utilitarian pickup truck that’s available in a range of cab styles – there’s even a high-performance Raptor off-road version.
Even if you don’t fork out for one of these range-topping trucks, the Ford Ranger is one of the sportiest-looking pickups on sale. Its angular front end comes with plenty of contrasting intakes, skid plates and trims that look more like they belong together than the mismatched features you get on a Mitsubishi L200.
Things aren’t quite so visually exciting inside, however – especially in entry-level Ford Ranger models that come with an almost exclusively black interior. Move up the range and you get a few more visually exciting silver trims, orange Wildtrak badging and electric seat adjustment. Mid-range models also come with a much-improved touchscreen infotainment system instead of the standard 2000-spec monochrome stereo display.
Even high-spec cars feel someway behind the VW Amarok in the quality stakes, however, but at least you get a decent amount of seat adjustment as standard. Space in the back seats will depend on whether you go for a Single Cab model (which has no back seats at all), a Super Cab (which has a cramped rear bench) or a Double Cab – which gets four doors and a proper row of rear seats with enough space for three adults.
Space in the load bay changes depending on which cab design you choose too, so Single Cab trucks have more space than Super Cab models which, in turn, are roomier than the Double Cab. Similarly, Single Cab trucks can carry heavier loads (up to more than 1,200kg) than Super Cabs and Double Cabs, and the fastest Raptor models – with their off-road-focused suspension – are limited to just 600kg.
The range-topping Ford Ranger Raptor is one of the best off-road pickups you can buy, but its fancy upgraded suspension means it also has the lightest load-carrying capacity.
If carrying heavy loads is something you’ll be doing regularly, you’ll want a Ford Ranger with the 213hp diesel engine. There are less powerful models available if you need to carry bulky, yet light, payloads, and you can swap the Ranger’s standard six-speed manual gearbox for either a six- or ten-speed automatic (depending on which engine you choose). The Ford Ranger’s towing limit for a braked trailer is 3,500kg.
Whichever Ford Ranger you pick, you’ll find it reasonably easy to drive in town – besides when limited rear visibility makes parking a bit tricky – and it softens bumps better than some firmer pickup trucks, too.
The Ford Ranger even deals with twisty country roads reasonably well for a high-riding pickup but isn’t quite as relaxing to drive for long periods at motorway speeds as the likes of a VW Amarok.
You do get cruise control as standard, however, and the Ford Ranger comes with a few must-have safety features – including automatic emergency braking – to help prevent avoidable bumps and scrapes.
If then, you’re looking for a practical pickup truck that’ll cope with heavy payloads as well as it tackles a corner-ridden country road, the Ford Ranger is well worth a look. Read on for our detailed Ford Ranger interior, practicality and driving review sections.
Pick a Double Cab model and there’s space in the Ford Ranger’s back seats for three adults. Super Cab versions are much more cramped, however, and Single Cab trucks have just two seats.
How much you can carry in the Ford Ranger’s pickup bed will depend on whether you go for a two- or four-seat model with two or four doors.
Even entry-level XL versions of the Ford Ranger come with four-way manual seat adjustment, but this doesn’t quite compensate for the Ranger’s pedals that are positioned slightly to one side. You do at least get adjustable lumbar support to help reduce backache on long drives.
Go for a mid-range Limited model and you get eight-way electric seat adjustment in Double Cab trucks and four-way electric adjustment in Super Cab models.
How much rear-seat space you get depends on which of the Ranger’s three seating configurations you pick. The standard two-door Single Cab comes with just two seats, while the two-door Super Cab adds a rather cramped rear bench with enough room for kids. Adults will struggle for knee room, however.
If you plan to carry passengers regularly, the four-door Double Cab is the Ranger to go for. These models come with a fully-fledged row of rear seats with enough room for three adults to get fairly comfortable.
If you need to carry much younger passengers, all Double Cab models come with Isofix anchor points in the rear seats. There’s plenty of space to lift in a rear-facing child seat and the Ford Ranger’s raised ride height and tall roof let you lean in to strap in a child without stooping down.
The Ranger comes with a decent number of cubby spaces to help you keep it looking neat and tidy inside. The glovebox and door bins are large enough to carry a large bottle each and you get a pair of large cupholders in the centre console.
Double Cab models come with some extra door pockets in their rear doors, as well as a folding rear armrest with a pair of built-in cupholders.
How much you can carry in the Ford Ranger’s bed depends on whether you pick a Single Cab, Super Cab or Double Cab model.
All versions have 1.56-meter wide pickups beds, but the bed length depends on which cab-style you pick. Two-seater Single Cab models have 2.32-meter beds, while four-seat, two-door Super Cab trucks are limited to 1.85 meters. The Double Cab’s extra pair of doors and roomier back seats mean they can only carry items up to 1.55 meters in length, but that’s still large enough to carry a standard industrial pallet.
Payload weight also depends on which cab-style and engine you choose and varies from less than a tonne to more than 1,200kg. It’s also worth noting that top-spec Raptor models with their more performance-focused suspension can carry just 600kg, meaning they don’t qualify for commercial vehicle company car tax.
The Ford Ranger is impressively easy to drive for a large pickup truck and soaks up large bumps well, but rear visibility is limited and entry-level models could do with more power.
The Ford Ranger comes with a choice of four diesel engines, from the entry-level 130hp model, through to more powerful 170hp, 200hp and 213hp units. All Rangers come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, and all but entry-level trucks get four-wheel drive.
The most affordable 130hp engine doesn’t feel particularly powerful and is only available in the cheapest Single Cab XL trucks. The 170hp engine is punchier and available across more of the Ranger lineup, but it’s a little louder than the equally powerful but noticeably smoother diesel engines you can get in the VW Amarok.
For carrying heavier loads, you’ll want to consider the 213hp engine – it’s more powerful than the older 200hp engine and can be had with a much smoother 10-speed automatic gearbox rather than the 200hp engine’s lethargic six-speed automatic unit.
The Ford Ranger’s maximum towing limited for a braked trailer is 3,500kg.
The Ford Ranger’s raised ride height and large windscreen help make it relatively easy to drive in traffic but parking can be an issue thanks to the think pillars beside the rear windscreen. The long bonnet can obscure smaller obstacles – such as bollards – in car parks, too, so you may want to consider paying extra for the optional front parking sensors.
Once you’ve left the perils of the multi-story, you’ll find the Ford Ranger does a decent job controlling its tall body over bumps and potholes. It soaks up unexpected jolts better than some firmer trucks and it copes with tight twisty roads fairly well without a great deal of body lean.
All but the most affordable entry-level models come with switchable four-wheel drive as standard. This lets you travel in two-wheel-drive mode on the road (to save fuel and increase manoeuvrability) and switch to four-wheel drive when towing heavy trailers or heading off-road.
Speaking of driving off-road, the range-topping Raptor model is the Ford Ranger to go for if you spend plenty of time in the rough stuff. It comes with some protective body panels, chassis reinforcement, specialised off-road tyres and upgraded suspension that soaks up huge bumps impressively well at high speed.
Unfortunately, while these modifications make the Ford Ranger Raptor one of the most capable off-road pickup trucks around, the chunky tyres produce a distinct roar at motorway speeds.
On the subject of motorways, you get cruise control as standard on all Ford Ranger models to help take the sting out of long drives and automatic emergency braking to help prevent avoidable collisions.
The Ford Ranger’s interior feels solid enough to put up with a good few years of abuse, but the infotainment system isn’t on par with what you get in more premium alternatives.