The all-new Ford Ranger has been designed to combine the toughness that pick-up drivers are used to with the sort of comfort and agility they arent.
It replaces the current Ranger and aims to provide extra sophistication.
Both two- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, and there are three engines: 123bhp and 148bhp 2.2-litre diesels, and a 197bhp 3.2-litre diesel.
Ranger buyers can also choose from Regular Cab (two-seat), Super Cab (2+2) and Double Cab (four-seat) models. We tested the latter.
Whats the 2012 Ford Ranger like to drive?
The steering is rather slow around town. However, its more responsive on faster roads and is both accurate and nicely weighted.
The Ranger also feels more grippy and composed in corners than most rival pick-ups, but the ride becomes bouncy and unsettled on poorly surfaced roads.
Front- and four-wheel-drive versions are available
Refinement is another weakness; the 148bhp engine that we tried sounds coarse under acceleration and when youre cruising at anything above about 60mph. Whats more, theres a lot of vibration through the gearlever and the shift is stiff.
Composed in corners, but the ride can become bouncy
Its a pity, because wind- and road noise are kept to a minimum, and the engine pulls well from low revs. In fact, four-wheel-drive Rangers can tow trailers that weigh more than 3.3 tonnes, whereas the rival VW Amarok has a 2.8-tonne limit.
The Ranger can tow trailers that weigh more than 3.3 tonnes
Whats the 2012 Ford Ranger like inside?
Pick-ups tend to be used as workhorses, so its hardly surprising that the interior is trimmed in sturdy rather than squishy plastics.
Theres a wide range of adjustment for the drivers seat and all-round vision is pretty good. However, the steering wheel adjusts for height only, so some people will still struggle to get comfortable.
Interior is sturdy, but ergonomics could be better
The dashboard layout is similarly mixed; there are simple rotary ventilation controls, but the infotainment system has a small screen and too many poorly labelled buttons.
The Double Cab model has decent space for five people and a large loadbay, although the Amaroks bay is 8cm wider between the rear wheelarches.
Should I buy one?
If youre in the market for a pick-up, the new Ranger is definitely worth considering, because its practical, decent to drive and significantly cheaper than its biggest rival, the VW Amarok.
Just dont expect it to get close to the ride comfort, refinement or perceived quality of modern SUVs.
What Car? says