There are three engines – all diesels – to choose from. There are two four-cylinder 2.2-litre engines with either 128bhp or 157bhp, followed by a range-topping 3.2-litre, boasting five cylinders and 197bhp.
We wouldn’t bother with the 128bhp engine - it comes only in the very basic two-seater Regular Cab with two-wheel drive and isn’t very quick – and skip to the 157bhp version. This may grumble into life with a raucous clatter when you start it up, but it nevertheless provides the poke you expect for a vehicle intended to haul heavy loads. It pulls strongly and feels suitably muscular from low down in the rev range.
That diesel clatter is always present, though, so don’t expect to have the peace and quiet of a regular SUV on the motorway. But, then again, engine, road and wind noise are better suppressed than they are in a Nissan Navara, making the Ranger slightly easier to live with day to day.
The 3.2 engine is a little smoother, but not much quieter. It is quicker, though, giving you some useful added surge that’s particularly helpful when joining motorways or overtaking.
The manual gearbox has a long throw and can be a bit notchy at times without being too frustrating. The optional six-speed automatic is reasonably slick and keen to react, but it’s nowhere near as refined as the best auto ’boxes in less agricultural SUVs.
As for the ride, the Ranger, like all its pick-up rivals, bobs around even over small undulations in the road, getting quite bouncy and unsettled the worse the terrain gets. However, its decent ability to absorb the shock of bumps still sets it apart from firmer rivals such as the Navara, so while it’s hardly cosseting, along with the Volkswagen Amarok it is one of the better-riding pick-ups out there.
Slow-witted steering and considerable body roll don’t bequeath the Ranger great cornering agility, but at least it remains stable on the motorway. Most models come with four-wheel drive, which offers decent grip in tricky conditions, and the option to lock the differentials or engage hill decent control if you find yourself really roughing it.
However, on road the Ranger is better when switched to two-wheel drive mode - it steers with greater finesse at low speed and uses less fuel on a run. But, if there’s nothing in the cargo bay, the light backend means the rear wheels lose grip quite readily on a greasy road.