It’s no secret that pick-up trucks are big news in the USA, but few could have expected them to take hold east of the Atlantic in quite the way they have. The Ford Ranger has particularly captured the imagination of buyers on this side of the pond, accounting for more pick-up sales here than any rivals.
Its success comes in no small part from association with its bigger brother, the North American Ford F-150 – the best-selling vehicle in the world. Yes, not only does it outsell all pick-up rivals in its home country, but it also beats every car for popularity – and not without reason. It’s big and attractively priced (in the USA, at least), plus it has road presence to beat all but the biggest SUVs. The more compact Ranger offers much of this appeal in a package that’s rather better suited to European roads, but what does it offer above its Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux rivals?
Well, the Ford Ranger is anything but a shrinking violet, but it’s the performance-focused Ranger Raptor that turns the most heads; it channels the muscular spirit of the Ford F-150 Raptor, but with a diesel engine for running costs that are rather more compatible with European fuel prices. Top models aren’t short of creature comforts, either – vital when the market for luxury pick-ups is fast expanding, with the likes of the Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes-Benz X-Class bringing premium touches to a class that was once more at home on a construction site than on King's Road.
Despite their fashionable image, these pick-ups are more than just about looking the part; they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. The Ranger has a hefty towing limit and can carry heavy loads with ease. Four-wheel-drive versions are pretty handy off the beaten track, too. As an alternative to a large SUV, a Ranger could make sense – especially if you can benefit from the attractive company car tax rates of models with a maximum payload that exceeds 1000kg (which excludes the Raptor, incidentally).
If you’re looking for a workhorse, the two-seat Regular Cab and four-seat Super Cab might tick the right boxes, but the more popular Double Cab is our favourite; its five-seat layout and four proper doors make it family-friendly, and it’s available in the widest range of trim levels. Don’t worry if the many permutations of Ranger are confusing; our in-depth review will help you to decide which engine, bodystyle and trim level are right for you.
And if you decide that a Ford Ranger or one of its pick-up rivals will fit neatly into your lifestyle, head on over to our New Car Buying pages to see how much we could save you – without any awkward haggling.