• The Ranger might appear to have blunt styling, but it is surprisingly aerodynamic
  • Halogen headlamps have daytime running lights at their outer edge
  • This front end is an aerodynamic design, believe it or not
  • Side steps aid access to cabin
  • A higher beltline than the old Ranger, for higher flatbed sides and therefore more cargo space, was in Ford’s design brief
  • Control ergonomics are good and handbrake is of the old-fashioned mechanical type
  • Six-speaker stereo is unexpectedly punchy; you could throw open the doors and have Elvis Presley grace your picnic if you choose
  • Dual-zone climate control is a real luxury, especially as many pick-ups still do without air conditioning
  • It’s a climb to get aboard, but there’s lots of room once you’re in
  • Leg and headroom in the Wildtrak’s rear cabin are on a par with a medium-sized family 4x4
  • You’d expect visibility to be good - and it is, to the nearside particularly so. Commanding driving position helps
  • Tailgate is rated to hold 200kg. It locks with the main key, but not via the remote central locking
  • For a car so vast, it both gains and loses speed quite impressively
  • Easy pulling power is what this powertrain is specified to deliver, and that it achieves very well
  • If you pay for any of your own fuel, have a 148bhp 2.2-litre Double Cab auto; if you don’t, go for the full fat 197bhp 3.2-litre
  • A crude ride gives away the Ranger’s utilitarian intent
  • Limit handling in a car like this isn’t about entertainment; it’s about security and the Ranger is all but failsafe
  • Great value and our favourite pick-up

The Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford’ global manufacturing plan has put paid to separate American and international versions of the Ranger. Ford has replaced them with one car that was designed and developed mostly in Australia, will be assembled in Thailand, Argentina and South Africa, and will be sold in 180 global markets. Oddly, the US isn’t among them.

It’s a vehicle with a unitary steel body on a ladder frame, suspended by leaf springs and a live axle at the rear. By passenger car standards that sounds primitive, but for a pick-up expected to carry heavy loads on a flat load bay floor down severely rutted tracks, tow several tonnes and have the wheel articulation for proper off-roading, it’s accepted convention and the best technological solution available.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
There’s now sound insulation in the doors, underbody and roof, and double door seals for better wind insulation

Regular Cab, Double Cab and Super Cab versions of the Ranger are available, the last being more of a two-plus-two set-up than the Double Cab. A Regular Cab Ranger has the most outright carrying capacity, with a 2.3m-long load bay that can accommodate more than 1800 litres of covered cargo weighing just over 1.3 tonnes if needs be. Our test car, however, is the range-topping Double Cab Wildtrak.

Underneath, the Ranger’s frame is longer and wider than before. It’s twice as stiff, too, and is mounted to the body via hydraulic fluid-filled rubber bushes for the best possible rolling refinement. Front suspension switches from torsion springs to coil-overs and wishbones, again for better ride tuning. There’s now sound insulation in the doors, underbody and roof, and double door seals for better wind insulation.

The Ranger was also the first pick-up to score a five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating. All this is intended to make it more agreeable to passenger car tax exiles.

Power comes from a choice of 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engines, developed from those found in the Transit range. They drive through the rear wheels unless you switch to four-wheel drive, which you can do at up to 70mph.

There’s a low-range transfer case too, with reduction gearing of 2.48:1 but no locking rear differential. Ford claims its latest traction control system is good enough to do the job of an old-fashioned lockable diff.

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