Launched in 1998 the Ford Ranger has been a popular steed indeed, going through five generations and indeed this model tested from Monaghan Brothers in Lisnaskea is in fact a face lifted version of the current generation.
Its popularity in recent years is partially due to its 3.5 ton towing capacity, which only a few within the segment offer, leaving it perfect for the country lifestyle of moving animals and meal around as well as the active lifestyle lugging boats and racing cars around alike, combined with the fact that the interior is a lot less utilitarian than other such commercial vehicles on the market.
The latest variant is pretty awesome looking I feel with an aggressive and menacing front end due to its face-lift and indeed the sheer size of the Ranger is a menacing sight to behold on the roads. Visually it is very much the spawn of its Ford American roots with hints of the brute that is an F150.
The pre-face-lifted Ranger was similar in the fact that it had a mega presence on the road, and it did indeed look attractive, however this new model has smartened up the Ranger perfectly and made what is nothing more than a workhorse to most owners, very modern and appealing to a much wider ownership market.
A large chrome grill up front was complimented on this test model with alloy wheels and side steps while the rear end had a very meaningful and more than purposeful tow bar system and the sides of the “pick-up” had strapping loops attached.
The loading bay was perfectly sizable with dimensions coming in at around 1.5m by just over 1m meaning a euro-pallet will fit with ease while the payload weight of the rear end is just over 1 ton and on top of that from what I can understand, there is the ability to tow a further braked 3.5 ton.
Three body types are on offer as the Ranger comes in single cab, which means two doors and two seats being ideal for the mountain farmer. A supercab, offering minimal rear seating and suicide opening rear doors and finally the most popular seller being the double cab that we tested, offering 4 proper doors and five usable seats.
Inside the Ranger is very spacious, offering good front and rear leg and head room with the biggest surprise to me being the comfort of the seats, there are not many vehicles of this type on the road that offer such comfort and support when it comes to the seating from my experience.
The dash is incredibly modern and car like, although being a commercial vehicle, quite cheap looking with few soft touch materials; however this is just something that comes with most brands in this category, however the overly chunky steering wheel makes up for that with all of its infotainment controls at your fingertips.
The dark cloth seats maybe are not the best choice and a heated leather upgrade would be the first thing I would chose to keep the dirt levels down inside when being used in the manner that most pick-ups tend to be.
Spec wise this middle of the range XLT (XL model would be the entry level with a Limited just above the XLT and the range topping Wildtrack after that) was fantastic with electric windows all round, heated windscreen, leather armrests on the doors and quite sports like blue needles on the dials.
Infotainment wise, this larger than life Ford didn’t disappoint either with USB & AUX input to the DAB radio which in fact also had the rarity these days of being able to play compact discs. Bluetooth was another feature and the whole system although complicated looking was very simple and easy to use and understand.
Engine wise, Ford have kept things simple for once with only two diesel engines on offer, firstly there is a four cylinder 2.2 TDCi producing a snip under 160bhp and for those who like a little more displacement there is a five cylinder 3.2 TDCi which produces just shy of 200bhp.
The 3.2 TDCi seems to be the most popular for buyers and despite great performance and towing ability, comes the sacrifice of lesser fuel economy over the 2.2 TDCi engine. The model we tested was equipped with the 2.2TDCi engine and I must say that this engine combined with the six speed manual gearbox pulled well throughout the rev range.
On the hour or so that I had the Ranger out on review, on mixed roads without any load on board it was returning around 40mpg which was a pleasant surprise, with the optional six speed automatic gearbox this would reduce to a reported low 30mpg.
There is a rear wheel drive only option available with the Ford Ranger however it isn’t the most popular and I can imagine for any used buyers in a year or so, would be a hard to find model. Four wheel drive cars are all equipped with varying drive ranges etc via a dial near the gear-stick and some may even have the optional differential lock added from the factory to help them in the very rough terrain.
Driving the new Ford Ranger is relatively effortless and due to the size of this pick-up, the seating and driving position is very high up, giving the feeling of being in a big rig truck and having an illusion of added safety due to this.
Handling wise, with revised suspension on this face-lifted model, there is minimal roll and I would actually compare the driving experience as similar to the Isuzu D-Max (which also impressed me greatly) with both aforementioned vehicles out driving and out specking the Mitsubishi L200.
Overall I think the Ranger has taken the right steps to up its appeal to the technology driven active adventurer, yet still kept hold of its traditional, mechanical loving out and out workhorse owners and hill farmers, for more information get in touch with the team at Monaghan Brothers, Lisnaskea.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry