The idea is to tempt everyone from builders to surf-boarding, mountain-biking families with what is now a very complete product indeed.
The original version of the MK3 Ranger was class-leading in the way it achieved its on and off road compromise and the revised model continues to be one of the better pick-ups in the segment to drive. No, it isn’t as car-like as a large family SUV, but one of those can’t take over a tonne in the back – and probably won’t be able to go as far as the Ford off road. Virtually all Ranger models have 4WD, a ‘shift-on-the-fly’ system you can use on the move to switch from the default 2WD setting into 4x4 traction if things get slippery. There’s also a low range option for the really gnarly stuff.
Under the bonnet, as before, there’s a choice of two main diesel engines, a 2. 2-litre TDCi four cylinder unit or the 200PS 3. 2-litre TDCi five cylinder powerplant. Both have been upgraded to meet the Euro6 emissions standard, which in the case of the 2. 2-litre model has meant that outputs have raised to either 130 and 160PS. The vast majority of Ranger drivers choose the 160PS variant and it’s a torquey unit, with 385Nm of pulling power on offer, enough in the 4WD version to tow a braked trailer of up to 3500kgs, a figure still un-bettered in this class. This engine is also much more economical than it was before, capable of returning up to 171g/km of CO2 and as much as 43. 5mpg on the combined cycle, though you have to choose a version with tweaked final drive ratios that reduce towing capability if you’re to get these figures.
Almost the only major global market in which you won’t find the Ranger is that of the US. Apparently, it’s not big enough, seems pretty large to us, nearly five and a half metres long and with a bulk quite intimidating enough to frighten away fast lane dawdlers. The updated exterior design of the improved third generation model aims to further enhance the imposing presence with a tough but trendier look.
At the rear, things are also much as before, the size of this cargo bed dependent on which of the three bodystyles you select. There are three, a two-seater ‘Regular Cab’, a so-called ‘Super Cab’ with occasional rear seats and the four-door Double Cab that most end up buying.
Time to take a seat at the wheel. You climb up high to perch behind the wheel of any pick-up and the Ranger is no exception, with an airy, commanding cab offering great all-round visibility and class-leading front seat headroom.
As for what’s different with the revised third generation Ranger, well the funky ‘G-Shock’ watch-inspired dashboard used in the original version of this model has had to make way for a more conventional centre console. That’s mainly because of the need to incorporate the 8-inch ‘SYNC 3’ colour touchscreen that’s fitted as standard to plusher variants, there to play its part in reducing button clutter and giving the cabin a cleaner, smarter feel.
Anything the monitor can’t tell you will be covered off by the revised instrument binnacle display, the other key change made to the improved MK3 model. A central speedo is flanked by digital colour displays on either side, with entertainment and ‘phone functions on the left and driving functions on the right.
As for practicalities, well the Double Cab variant offers a competitively-sized 1. 21 cubic metre load box that has a depth of 511mm, a length of 1549mm and a width of 1560mm, narrowing to 1139mm between the wheel arches - easily enough to accommodate a Europallet. There’s a payload capacity of up to 1,199kgs and a clever Adaptive Load Control system that tweaks the stability control system to compensate for cargo bed weight. Top models also get a ‘C-channel’ cargo management tie-down system, which has attachment points that can be moved along a rail, giving you greater choice when tying down a load.
When it all comes down to it, the right tool can make child’s play of men’s work and if you’re looking for the best all-round contender in the pick-up sector right now, then this for many drivers is exactly that – the right tool. It all means that pick-up users who habitually would simply sign up for another Hilux, Navara or L200 in this segment really ought in future to consider the Ranger too. That was Ford’s objective here. Job done.