2016 Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi 160 auto review
The third generation Ford Ranger has been given a facelift for 2016. We've already driven it abroad, and now it's time to see whether it makes as much sense in the UK...
The third generation Ford Ranger was designed to be a rugged workhorse through and through; ready to pull or carry heavy payloads and deal with whatever the terrain throws at it.
For this mid-life facelift Ford has gone through its pick-up with a fine-tooth comb. Its efforts have been driven by a desire by potential buyers to have passenger car luxuries fitted to their pick-up, something that has been seen on close rivals, such as the Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara NP300.
As a result, Ford has enhanced the Ranger’s trim levels rather than changed them completely, with DAB and USB connectivity now available on the entry-level XL trim, while the XLT, Limited 2 and Wildtrak versions all come equipped with Ford's Sync colour infotainment system.
There are also three body styles to choose from, kicking off with the Regular and Super cabs, which are likely to be reserved for those looking for a rugged work vehicle. The Double Cab in Limited 2 and Wildtrak trims is likely to dominate sales; these two trims accounted for nearly 95% of the last generation's sales. It's the Double Cab that we're testing.
What’s the 2016 Ford Ranger like to drive?
Turn the ignition on and the Ranger's diesel engine grumbles into life with a distinctive clatter. Importantly for a vehicle that will be expected to haul heavy loads, the engine pulls strongly, and although the 2.2 TDCi only has 157bhp at its disposal at its top end, it feels suitably muscular from low down.
It readily picks up speed without feeling strained until it reaches around 3500rpm, but no matter whether the engine is idling or driving at motorway speeds, the clatter can still be heard in the cabin.
Even so, overall engine, road and wind noise is suppressed slightly better than it is the Navara NP300, this should make the Ranger easier to live with. The manual gearbox has a long-throw and can be a bit notchy at times, but it is nor frustrating, while the six-speed automatic is smooth and keen to cycle between the ratios.
As for the ride, the Ranger is largely composed on smooth roads, with little disturbance caused by smaller imperfections. However, once the surface becomes rutted or uneven, things start to get bouncy and unsettled, making the rear axle rather jittery.
What’s the 2016 Ford Ranger like inside?
Ford has attempted to make the interior of the Double Cab Ranger more appealing to buyers who may also be considering an SUV. It comes with leather seats, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels and more convenience features than before, including as USB connectivity and a rear parking camera.
Ford has also attempted to make the Ranger smarter by equipping the XLT trim with Ford Sync, and the Limited 2 and Wildtrak versions with Sync 2 software; the latter is found on many other cars in Ford’s range.
The interior is well appointed and feels solid enough to deal with the rigours that heavy-duty work may send the Ranger’s way. However, the Ranger’s working class roots still shine through. The interior materials higher up are acceptable, but further down there's a distinct built-to-last feel.
The driver’s seat is comfortable and electrically adjustable in our Limited 2 model, and there's a generous amount of height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The Double Cab provides space in the back for two adults, but probably only for a short while because the high floor makes it difficult to get comfortable. The rear of the cabin also feels rather more functional in quality than the front.
As for the Ranger's carrying and towing ability, arguably one of the most important figures for buyers, the Double Cab can to haul 1081kg in the back, compared with the lower maximum payload of 1052kg of the Navara. The braked weight it can drag behind it stands at 3500kg, which matches the Navara.
Should I buy one?
The Ranger is certainly one of the more refined pick-ups available, its 2.2-litre diesel clatters less than a Navara’s oil-burner. However, what the Ranger gains in noise suppression, it loses on ride sophistication; the Nissan's five-link suspension set-up ultimately makes it more civilised on the road than the Ford.
Given that the Nissan almost matches the Ford for hauling and does match it for dragging loads, and that the majority of pick-ups spend most of their time on the road, the Navara is ultimately the more rounded choice.
As ever, first consider whether you need a pick-up up at all. Unless you regularly carry very heavy loads, there are plenty of large SUVs that offer better comfort, performance, handling, refinement and quality, along with the same high driving position for less money.
What Car? says...
Ford Ranger Limited 2 Double CabEngine size 2.2-litre dieselPrice £30,449Power 157bhpTorque 258lb ft0-62mph 12.8secTop speed 109mphFuel economy 35.3mpgCO2 209g/km