Any judgement here depends entirely on your frame of reference. Compared to the on-road dynamic standards of most pick-up trucks, the Ford Ranger deserves a glowing recommendation, but those aren’t the standards that we’re used to applying in this here parish.
And given that Ford’s ambition for this car is to lure 4x4 drivers into the pick-up fold, neither are they the ones we should apply now.
Which is why ‘competent’ is about as generously as we can describe the way the Ranger conducts itself on UK roads. It handles very well, considering that it’s a 5.4m-long 2.2-tonner with an unusually high centre of roll, hybrid off-road tyres and a large lump of iron for a rear axle. It’s better, in fact, than one or two passenger cars we could mention, the Land Rover Defender being one.
But in the ride department particularly, the Ranger is no match for a well sorted 4x4 like a Santa Fe or Freelander. While bumps are dealt with adequately enough, every one is felt and then bodily amplified. It reminds you that, unless you’ve got a dirt bike in the back and you’re careering down a broken forest path, you’re just not using this car properly.
People who like pick-ups, and who use them as the maker intended, probably quite like that about them. But if you like Honda CR-Vs and don’t need the added utility, you probably won’t.
Considering the high-profile multi-purpose tyres it’s on, the Ranger’s handling is quite tidy. Its steering is weighty and direct enough, allowing you to carve fairly quick and precise lines through corners, where body roll is reasonably well contained.
Lateral grip levels are modest on asphalt, but sufficient to allow this giant to feel almost as secure and composed as most big family cars at legal speeds. But again, ‘competent’ is the defining term.