What is it?
One sales slump casualty was the market for pickups, but as concern turns from economy to climate, and the prospect of a third successive hard winter, manufacturers are raising their game to grab a slice of booming 4x4 sales. VW's Amarok has set the marker, and new products from Toyota and Ford are joining in, the latter manufacturer with this Ford Ranger Doublecab.
What’s it like?
Designer Craig Metros, a Melbourne-based American, has combined the all-new Ranger’s family resemblance with US Ford products with the practicality needed for Europe, with an overall width 100mm less than some rivals, and detailed attention to aerodynamics. UK Rangers are now built in South Africa, where Ford has invested heavily to guarantee high build quality.
Torquey drivelines are pooled from 161bhp four-cylinder and 197bhp five-cylinder turbo-diesels with six-speed auto or manual transmissions.
The development seems to have paid off. On a variety of roads around the Kruger Park in South Africa, the refinement and build quality was as evident at 40mph on gravel tracks as at twice that speed on World Cup legacy motorways.
Apart from some hard but durable dash mouldings, the interior has been improved to a level more than acceptable for any contemporary volume passenger car. The interior is spacious, with room in the rear for a 1.9m person with the front seat fully back. Their chattels are equally well accommodated, with lidded boxes under the rear seat and a laptop-swallowing glove box.
Should I buy one?
The Ranger is capable of vastly exceeding the needs of most potential buyers, as a drive on a seriously challenging off-road course, lacking only mud or snow, showed.
Axle articulation is first class and the electronic chassis aids, including speed adjustable Hill Descent Control, mean that even those with little experience should keep out of trouble.
Ford Ranger Doublecab 3.2TDCi 4x4 Limited
Price: £26,734; Top speed: 109mph; 0-62mph: n/a; Economy: 28.3mpg (combined); Co2: 264g/km; Kerbweight: 2073kg; Engine: 5-cyls, 3198cc, turbodiesel; Power: 197bhp at 3000rpm; Torque: 347lb ft at 1500-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual