MODEL TESTED: Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCI Double Cab Wildtrak 200PS Auto
PRICE: £35,205 ENGINE: 3.2-litre 5cyl, 197bhp
THE rugged Ford Ranger comes as a regular, super and double-cab model, and we’re driving the latter to match its two rivals. We test a top-spec Wildtrak, which costs from £35,205 with an auto box (although the model in our pictures is a Limited).
DESIGN & ENGINEERING
ALTHOUGH the Ford Ranger Wildtrak comes as standard with a selectable four-wheel-drive system, which lets you change between rear and 4WD using a dial on the centre console, you’ll have to pay an extra £360 for the off-road pack if you want a locking rear differential. That pack does also add more underbody protection for peace of mind on rough terrain.
Chunky all-season mud and snow tyres are fitted as standard, too, and these bolster the Ranger’s off-road ability. As with its rivals, the Ford uses traditional leaf-sprung rear suspension, which allows a payload capacity of 1,059kg.
The Ford’s interior feels robust, and while it seems neither as upmarket as the Amarok’s nor as hard wearing as the L200’s, it strikes a very good balance between the two. It’s helped in Wildtrak form by the long list of standard equipment, including leather seats and an impressive eight-inch infotainment system, which incorporates a good level of smartphone tech.
Wildtrak models also come with some exterior features such as a special roll bar, chrome grille and aluminium-finish roof rails. They give the truck a purposeful look, while a rear-view camera is standard, too. It’s the best-equipped pick-up here.
NONE of our pick-up rivals is great to drive, but although the Ford has a brawny feel thanks to its torque-rich 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel, it feels every bit of its 2,211kg kerbweight. It can’t match the Amarok when it comes to agility or precision on the move – even though this is all relative.
While the 470Nm torque figure is strong, the Ford’s weight and sometimes slow-witted automatic gearbox mean it falls behind its rivals when it comes to performance. Our in-gear trials found it lacking compared with the Amarok and L200, especially at high speeds.
In our 50-70mph test, the Ranger recorded a time of 8.1 seconds in fifth gear, while the L200 managed seven seconds flat and the Amarok just 4.7 seconds. The Ranger was slowest from 0-60mph as well, taking 10.8 seconds. Still, it doesn’t feel like it’s lacking pace, mainly because the torque ensures the truck makes relaxed and adequate progress. The Ford isn’t quite as comfortable as the L200 or Amarok on the motorway, although it is a little quieter than the Volkswagen at high speed.
Generous ground clearance of 229mm and four-wheel-drive traction helped the Wildtrak perform well in our off-road tests, and the 800mm wading depth means there’s more scope for deepwater excursions in the Ranger than in either rival.
By comparison, the off-road settings for the Amarok’s permanent four-wheel-drive system are more limited, but all three trucks are versatile off the tarmac and should offer enough traction when the going gets tough.
EVEN though the Ranger’s load bay isn’t quite as spacious as the Amarok’s, it’s still generous, at 1.55m by 1.56m. It’s wider between the wheelarches than the L200’s, too, at 1,139mm, but the Amarok’s bed is more spacious still at 1,222mm. This means a Euro pallet fits both ways in the Volkswagen.
The loading height for the Ranger is 835mm, which puts it in between the L200’s 850mm and the Amarok’s 780mm. Similarly, the Ranger’s 12.4m turning circle sits in between its rivals’. However, the Ranger’s bulkier body means it feels the largest of the three on the move, and at 5.4m in length the Ford still requires a lot of manoeuvring. It’s the longest model in this test, although not by much; all three trucks feel big and cumbersome in tight spots.
A Five-star Euro NCAP rating means safety is acceptable for a pick-up. Yet this dates from 2012, when the test wasn’t as stringent. Ford finished lower down the maker’s chart of our Driver Power 2017 customer satisfaction survey, in 19th place overall, which was just behind VW’S 14th place. Mitsubishi didn’t feature this year.
However, these results were based mostly on the brands’ passenger cars, so the extra engineering that’s gone into these trucks means they should all be dependable working vehicles.
WHILE the Ford is the most expensive contender here to buy for cash (and remember, if you’ll be using any of these three pick-ups as a business vehicle and are VAT registered, you’ll be able to claim this back), it’s better equipped than either rival. It’s slightly cheaper than the Amarok on our example contracthire deals, too (see Through the Range, opposite).
Pick-up buyers tend to customise their vehicles with extras to make working life easier; the Ford’s options are relatively well priced, with a tow bar at £300, which is cheaper than £405 for the L200 and £360 for the Amarok. Similarly, load-bay protection costs £300 in the Ford, but it’s £786 in the Amarok. It’s £244 in the Mitsubishi, though, and the Ranger’s £2,400 hard-top option is a lot pricier than the L200’s £1,651 version. A ‘truckman’ body isn’t available on the VW.