Ford’s Ranger boasts the title of best-selling pick-up in Europe, and farmers account for a large proportion of its sales. Farmers Guide tested the latest model. David Williams reports.
The Ranger comes in single, extended and double cab formats and with specification levels from the entry XL to the flagship Raptor.
The single cab is only available in XL specification and it was this version, arguably the most practical with the largest buck and the highest load capacity, which was selected for the week-long test.
For a base model the XL is remarkably well equipped, and the level of comfort is excellent. Standard equipment includes comfortable fabric seats, a heated windscreen, manual air conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio, electric windows and mirrors and a six-way adjustable driver’s seat along with a host of driver’s aids.
There is a choice of two power units, both two litres and producing either 130hp or 170hp. The pick-up tested came with the more powerful engine.
Higher specification Rangers come with large alloy wheels and plenty of bolt-on goodies but despite the XL’s entry-level specification it is still an attractive vehicle and gained many compliments during the test week from farmers keen to inspect it.
The XL single cab has the lowest unladen weight in the Ranger lineup, which also gives it the highest rated load capacity. Maximum payload for the 170hp version is a very impressive 1,252kg and the maximum braked trailer weight is 3,500kg. Maximum gross train weight is 6,000kg.
The load bed is double-skinned and tough enough to withstand typical farm knocks. The usable area is 230cm long and 155cm wide, reducing to 114cm between the wheel arches. The tailgate is strong, with hinges capable of supporting heavy materials during loading, and provides plenty of space to slide large items into the buck through the 136cm opening. There are three heavy-duty tie down points close to floor level on each side, and hooks on the outside along the sides and rear.
Ground clearance is 232mm, and the underside guarding is impressive. Below the rear tailgate is an under-run guard, also used to mount the tow bar. The full-width guard beam is made of 90mm box section, which should provide adequate protection for fairly hard knocks.
Performance and comfort
The 170hp engine proved extremely flexible and was an excellent match for the six-speed manual transmission. Acceleration to 70mph was surprisingly quick, and on winding back roads the performance and handling were car-like. The ride was predictably firm but never uncomfortable, and it is very enjoyable to drive. Dry weather over the test period meant there was little mud to challenge the vehicle, but off-road on farm woodland tracks the ride quality was very good.
The 255/70/16 tyres provided plenty of grip and easily handled deep ruts from tractors and other farm vehicles. With a load in the rear the ride was softer, and with up to 420Nm of torque available it was possible to remain in higher gears and avoid changing down even at low speeds. Average fuel consumption during the 500 miles travelled was just under 34mpg, but on longer journeys with the truck unladen it easily achieved 35mpg-plus.
For a base version the standard of finish was excellent, and there were no annoying squeaks or rattles at any speed. The seats are supportive and very comfortable with plenty of leg room for taller drivers. Inside storage includes large door pockets, a decent sized glovebox and a two-section compartment between the seats at the rear of the centre console. There are also smaller trays for odds and ends including on top of the dashboard. The steering wheel is adjustable and lightly padded, and remained comfortable during long journeys. Air conditioning is manual, and one of the only criticisms of the vehicle during the test was the confusing air distribution control labelling, which made it difficult to determine where air was directed. However, for regular drivers it would take little time to find preferred settings.
A clever feature is the headlight angle adjustment. A rotating dial selects the main lighting modes, and to adjust the headlight angle to compensate for variable loads there is a rotating knob in the centre of the dial which is twisted to achieve a suitable level. There is also a handy load bed light at the top and rear of the cab.
A rotating knob behind the gear lever selects 2wd, 4wd or 4wd low range, and a separate button allows the rear differential to be locked in 4wd mode. The engine’s high torque and the flexible gearbox means that there is little need to select low range for most off-road situations, but for maximum control on slopes it allows extremely low travel speeds to be maintained.
Visibility is very good, and large side mirrors provide a superb view for reversing trailers in con ned spaces. Manoeuvrability is excellent.
Servicing and warranty
A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is standard, and routine services are due every two years or 18,000 miles.
Refuelling is easy and there is no separate tank filler cap beneath the external flap cover. The Adblue filling point is also behind fuel filler ap.
Daily checks are easily carried out, although the engine oil dipstick is located a full arm’s length back from the radiator grille.
The Ranger has to be one of the best farm pick-ups currently available and even in the base XL guise, it is comfortable, quiet and car-like.
Performance and handling are excellent and will easily rival that of any other brand. For load carrying the large rear buck is ideal, and there is plenty of towing capacity for typical farm livestock trailers or fuel bowsers.
For any farming business currently considering a new pick-up the Ranger is highly recommended and well worth a test-drive, and don’t discount the base XL version as it comes with a generous specification which made it a pleasure to use during the Farmers Guide test.
Current promotional pricing means the XL single cab with the170hp engine as tested is available from only £20,195.