From £22,2448
Ford’s 4x4 pick-up Ranger gets a fresh look inside and out and new engines for 2016. We drive it off-road for the first time
14 December 2015

What is it?

The previous Ford Ranger was the first to be built under the ‘One Ford’ banner, which meant it was designed to be sold in the same form worldwide – except, that is, to the American market. That model was built in Thailand but this one will be made in South Africa.

There'll be two engines to choose from:, a 158bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine available exclusively with Limited trim and the 197bhp Wildtrak-only 3.2-litre diesel we're driving here. Both can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The two trim levels bring an 8in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, DAB and Ford’s Sync 2 programme, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and hill descent control.

Limited trim has 17in alloys and Wildtrak gets 18in wheelsWildtrak, while the latter also gets more colour choices. Limited models come in three body styles: a two-seat Regular Cab, occasional four-seat Super Cab and full five-seat Double Cab. Wildtrak models come in Double Cab form only. 

What's it like?

On first impressions, the Wildtrak looks a strong offering. It has a plush, well-appointed interior, with swathes of leather on the dashboard and the seats accompanied by Ford's signature pride orange stitching, while the switchgear is chunky and robust enough to withstand the rigours of commercial use.

The driver’s seat is comfortable and easy to adjust, along with a generous amount of height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The double cab provides space in the back for two adults to sit comfortably, with plentiful head and leg room, although, the rear of the cabin feels rather more functional in quality than the front.

The Ranger's most important figures are still impressive; it can tow trailers weighing up to 3500kg and its load bed will take 1035kg. The bed itself is a good shape and offers good access. For reference, a Mitsubishi L200 tows less and can carry only slightly more weight. 

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Pressing the ignition button brings a muscular-sounding grumble from the diesel, giving you a brief idea of the no-nonsense torque available. Admittedly, no diesel is outright pleasant-sounding on start-up, but at least the Wilktrak's has a sense of purpose. 

The auto ’box shifts through its ratios smoothly and is keen to select higher ratios in search of better fuel efficiency at a cruise. Hefty throttle inputs never result in the engine sounding strained. 

Even large off-road ruts don’t unsettle the Ranger, with only a small amount of reverberation felt throughout the cabin, but not to the extent that it could be classed as uncomfortable.

The Ranger comes with an electrically controlled transfer box, which gives the driver the option to select rear-wheel drive and 4x4 high range ratios on the move. There's also an option to select low-range gearing, which gives extra traction in difficult conditions or when tackling steep inclines and declines.

Like its predecessor, the Wildtrak feature hill descent control, using its traction control system to aid descending steep slopes at a constant speed. This feature matched with the auto ’box and low-range gearing of our test car worked extremely well.

Should I buy one?

Our off-road-only drive is hardly extensive enough to come to a concrete conclusion, but the Ranger's continued prowess on the rough stuff, its generous towing and hauling limits and comfortable, well-appointed cabin mean it should certainly be on your shopping list.

Just bear in mind that this range-topping Wildtrak still looks a little pricey next to an equivalent Mitsubishi L200 or Volkswagen Amarok, so the cheaper but similarly well equipped Limited model will be the better option for most buyers. We'll have our final verdict after a proper on-road drive early next year. 

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Double Cab 

Where Lommel, Belgium; On sale January 2016; Price £32,370; Engine 3200cc, diesel; Power 197bhp at 3000rpm; Torque 347lb ft at 1500-2750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerbweight NA; Top speed 109mph; 0-62mph 10.4sec; Fuel economy 28.2mpg; CO2 265g/km

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Will86 15 December 2015

@Mr£4worth

A few years back Ford had issues with silver cars where the front doors came out a different shade to the rest of the car. It was something to do with how they were painted and I think the doors got an extra coat, or it was along those lines. I hope for Ford's sake that you're right and it's a respray rather than a repeat of their paint woes.
Mr£4worth 15 December 2015

A quick re-spray

Has anyone else spotted the re-sprayed door on the Orange Ford (Right hand side rear door) . Not what you expect on a launch car.
Broughster 15 December 2015

Ridiculous conclusion

I find it difficult to believe that anyone can write a verdict like that without mentioning the new Nissan. The VW, Ford, Mitsubishi and others are like typewriters in a world of word processors. The Nissan has equally high towing and loading capacities, but has independent rear suspension where the others ride on cart springs. Anyone who has any choice in their next truck and has lurched, wallowed and bounced their way down a road in any other truck won't think twice.

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