Ford Ranger review

Category: Pick-up

Section: Performance & drive

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Ford Ranger Raptor 2019 RHD rear tracking
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The engine line-up for the Ford Ranger is rather simple, with just one 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit available in three different power outputs: there’s the 128bhp 2.0 Ecoblue 130, the 168bhp 2.0 Ecoblue 170 or the range-topping 210bhp 2.0 Ecoblue 213. 

There’s no doubt that the Ecoblue 213 provides more than acceptable acceleration. It pulls strongly from low revs and has plenty of punch to get up to motorway speeds in short order, or to overtake on a single-carriageway road. However, in the wider, heavier Raptor, this engine doesn’t quite live up to the model’s Ford Performance nametag. Indeed, if you want a quick truck, the Wildtrack is actually swifter.

The Ranger’s most powerful 2.0-litre diesel is one of the smoother engines in the class, but those expecting SUV levels of refinement might be a little disappointed by its ever-present diesel soundtrack. That said, when paired to Ford’s optional 10-speed automatic gearbox, progress is effortless – the additional ratios aiding low-speed acceleration while also helping to reduce engine noise at a cruise. It also makes for a willing load-lugger; proving powerful enough to cope even when packed to the brim with family and luggage – you’ll get 1024kg in the load bed, and it’ll tow up to 3500kg as well – albeit not at the same time.

The six-speed manual is also impressive, with a long but accurate throw, however, you have to be prepared to work it hard to make meaningful progress, especially with the less powerful 168bhp 2.0 Ecoblue 170 engine. This engine is perfectly suitable if you’re planning on using your Ranger purely as a work-horse (there’s plenty of low down grunt for towing or carrying heavy objects) but if you want your pick-up to work as both a tool and family transport, its lack of punch at motorway speeds could be a little limiting.

As for the ride, the Ranger, like all pick-ups, bobs around even over small undulations, becoming bouncier and more unsettled as the surface gets worse. However, its decent ability to absorb the shock of bumps still sets it apart from firmer rivals such as the Toyota Hilux and Ssangyong Musso, so, while it’s hardly cosseting, it's the most comfortable pick-up out there. The Raptor gets a more sophisticated rear suspension setup that improves the ride comfort – especially on tricky off-road terrain – but it’s expensive. Impressively, its Fox Racing shock absorbers and all-round coil springs mean that the faster you go off road, the smoother the ride gets.

Although agile handling isn't necessarily a priority among commercial vehicles, you'll be pleased to learn that the Ranger is one of the most nimble pick-ups you can buy. Turn into a tight corner and it's easy to appreciate the steering's accuracy and response, as well as the Ranger's resistance to body lean.

Compared with other trims, the Raptor has a strengthened chassis and greater suspension travel, along with enormous off-road tyres, all of which help to make it even more capable off the beaten track than the rest of the Ranger line-up. However, expect a little bit more body lean in bends, and be prepared for the fact that the chunky off-road tyres don't have quite as much purchase on blacktop as the more road-biased tyres fitted to other Rangers.

All models come with four-wheel drive and the option to add a locking rear differential (standard on Wildtrak and tha Raptor) to boost off-road ability, but we'd recommend keeping your Ranger in two-wheel drive mode on the road. This helps it to steer with greater finesse at low speeds (in four-wheel drive, it won't turn as sharply) and use less fuel. As with most pick-ups, you must be aware that if there’s nothing in the cargo bay, the light back end will cause the rear wheels will lose grip quite readily on a greasy road.

Ford Ranger Raptor 2019 RHD rear tracking

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