Ford Ranger (2016-2021) Review
It's tough enough for the building site, but the Ford Ranger isn't out of place on the school run either
Strengths & weaknesses
- Strong off-road ability
- Good value for money
- High level of safety equipment
- Noisy diesel engines
- Shorter warranty than rivals
- High floor in back can be uncomfortable
Spend 30 seconds in America and you’ll see how Ford pick-up trucks are as common as Focus hatchbacks are on the streets of Britain.
This love of rugged load-luggers is now the latest trend to cross the Atlantic as pick-up sales climb and a new range of vehicles, suited to UK roads are being launched.
Narrower than the gargantuan American models, pick-ups such as the Ford Ranger bring unheard-of comfort, equipment, and low-running costs to this sector, while - crucially - double cab pick-up trucks with front and back doors still qualify for relatively low, fixed company car tax.
Available in four trim levels, the Ranger is aimed at a broad spectrum of buyers, from industrial users who’ll opt for the cheapest XL models with 16-inch wheels and three different layouts, to the high-end Wildtrak trim, which includes the same technology and styling details that are found in Ford’s conventional cars.
As pick-up trucks go, the Ranger is simple to drive, with slick-shifting automatics and car-like manual gearboxes, as well as good on-road manners that only really start to feel agricultural when the road surfaces are rutted and the rear bed is un-laden.
Better still, even entry-level models receive electronic high and low range gear selection, hill descent control, and a wading depth of up to 800mm, which makes the Ranger a formidable off-road machine, while the addition of Trailer Sway Control, which detects sway when towing and automatically applies the brakes to the appropriate wheels to restore control, makes it a great option for towing up to 3,500kg or braked load.
Interiors are somewhat sensitive to specification; with those basic XL variants favouring sturdy plastics and wipe-clean materials over leather flourishes and dazzling dashboards. Wildtrak models genuinely feel quite special, for a pick-up at least.
These come with Ford's latest Sync 3 touchscreen media system, with digital radio and excellent smartphone integration, as well as neat touches, such as colour changing ambient lighting and leather-trimmed interior elements.
Engines come in three outputs. A 2.2-litre with 130hp and 160hp, and a 3.2-litre with 200hp. All three are diesels. The lower-powered 2.2-litre is good enough for workmen, but private buyers who want to tow caravans and such would do better to plump for the 3.2-litre.
Admittedly, the 3.2-litre diesel engine would benefit from some further refinement, as it can feel lumpy under harsh acceleration and it's a little noisy, but the Ranger is one of the easiest pick-up trucks to drive out of the current crop, meaning it more than holds its own against the Volkswagen Amarok, Mercedes X-Class, and Nissan Navara.
From mid-2019, Ford replaced all 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre engines with a range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesels. Ford claims that the new engine’s fuel economy is up 9% compared with the 2.2-litre engine, while also offering more torque than the 3.2-litre engine. Three power outputs were available: 130hp, 170hp and 213hp, each with a six-speed manual gearbox. An optional 10-speed automatic, aimed to improve efficiency, was available on the 170hp and 213hp models.
The Volkswagen and Mercedes models feel slightly more premium inside and the near-bulletproof Toyota Hilux is the reigning champion in terms of off-road durability.
A final word on bed length and cab style. In short, the Regular Cab models, which can only seat two up front, boast the largest rear bed and will be the best option for those looking to transport long loads.
Ford's Super Cab models feature smaller, part-time seating in the rear that is designed to transport passengers occasionally. Double Cab models are the best for those with regular passengers, as they boast four full-size doors and greater interior roominess for adults. However, the high floor can leave taller passengers feeling a bit scrunched up in the back.
|Maximum gross payload
|1081 - 1269kg
|£240 first year, £240 thereafter
Understanding Ford Ranger names
Ford offers four trim levels. The cheapest and most utilitarian is the XL, and the most lavish is called Wildtrak.
Engine 3.2 Duratorq TDCi
There are two engines on offer; a 2.2-litre and a 3.2-litre. Both are diesel and badged Duratorq. These were replaced with 2.0-litre units, badged EcoBlue.
Ford offers an automatic, or a manual gearbox with the Ranger.
Ford Ranger Engines
2.2 Duratorq TDCi 130hp, 2.2 Duratorq TDCi 160hp, 3.2 Duratorq TDCi 200hp, 2.0 EcoBlue 130hp, 2.0 EcoBlue 170hp, 2.0 EcoBlue 213hp
The lowest powered 2.2-litre diesel (130hp) engine is only available on XL trim models and will typically only be purchased by building firms and other businesses looking for cheap, no-frills work machinery.
Most private customers will plump for those models with the higher-powered 2.2 (160hp) and 3.2 Duratorq TDCi engines, which come mated to an all-wheel-drive set-up and boast the most impressive towing capacities of up to 3,500kg.
Both the 2.2 Duratorq TDCi 160hp and 3.2 Duratorq TDCi 200hp deliver a good dollop of pulling power, with 385Nm and 470Nm of torque respectively, which results in a fairly swift sprint up to cruising speed no matter the model.
That said, the larger 3.2-litre unit seems the most adept at motorway cruising, despite being the least refined of the two, as it will happily cruise along at low revs, without the need to juggle gears during overtaking manoeuvres.
On the subject of gears, a six-speed manual transmission is available across the range and its light action and easy clutch make it a doddle to live with on a daily basis.
An automatic transmission is also available on both the 160hp and 200hp engines in Limited trim level and above and makes for a very easy set-up to live with, even if it can become confused during over-enthusiastic acceleration.
For those looking to pull off some serious off-roading, the larger 3.2-litre engine would be an ideal companion, chiefly down to the immense amount of pulling power it offers.
That said, it is a thirsty thing and the attraction of additional displacement could prove costly on the wallet if used for regular commutes, with the combined miles per gallon figure dropping to 32.1mpg in the automatic models compared to the 36.2mpg offered by the smaller 2.2-litre 160hp powerplant.
Mid-2019 saw these engines replaced with a trio of 2.0-litre units: 130hp and 170hp models and a range-topping bi-turbo 213hp model with 500Nm of torque (more than the old 3.2-litre engine).
According to the figures, fuel economy dropped in these apparently more efficient engines, though they were subject to the latest WLTP testing which is designed to represent real-world conditions more closely. The previous engines were tested under the hugely optimistic NEDC testing procedure. Either way, all engines are likely to average around 25-35mpg depending on how they are driven, and the loads they are made to carry.
Official fuel economy
2.2 Duratorq TDCi
2.2 Duratorq TDCi
3.2 Duratorq TDCi
Ford Ranger Trims
XL, XLT, Limited, Wildtrak
As with a number of the more work-orientated pick-up trucks on the market (see Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi L200 as examples), the Ford Ranger's trim levels cover almost every customer base conceivable.
Kicking off the range are XL models, which see 16-inch steel wheels, a black moulded front grille and rear mud flaps lend it an overtly utilitarian look, while the interior is equally geared towards the bumps and scrapes of building site life.
Much of the flash niceties are replaced by hard-wearing plastics and simple, button-based interaction between driver and machine, although they do come as standard with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and plenty of USB and power points for charging electrical devices.
Step up to the slightly more lavish XLT trim level and those steel wheels are replaced with alloy numbers of the same diameter, while a chrome finish front grille, automatic headlights and wipers, front fog lights, chrome finish door handles and heated, power-folding mirrors are added to the list.
Inside, there's a small 4.2-inch media display with Ford's SYNC system that allows for voice control, as well as some smartphone connectivity.
It is worth noting at this point that both XL and XLT (deemed the most basic models) come with a Thatcham category 1 alarm, Isofix child seat anchoring points, myriad airbags and Ford's excellent Easy-Fuel capless refuelling system, which keeps hands clean at the diesel pumps.
A generous offering, considering the price, but private buyers will likely be allured by the niceties featured in the more expensive Limited and Wildtrak trim levels.
Limited sees stylish 17-inch alloy wheels added, as well as a chrome grille, chrome finish steel rear bumper, tinted glass on the rear windows, puddle lights and eye-catching chrome door mirrors.
Perhaps more importantly, Ford's latest Sync 3 entertainment system makes an appearance inside, meaning drivers benefit from a large touch screen display, voice control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Applink and Emergency Assistance, which connects to a call centre in the event of an incident.
Real carpet floor mats raise the premium stakes somewhat and this is the first trim level to receive rear parking sensors as standard - although sat-nav remains an optional extra.
Finally, Wildtrak trim also adds a healthy dose of testosterone-fuelled exterior styling elements, including 18-inch alloy wheels, titanium-effect painted front grille, aluminium roof rails and a sleek aerodynamic sports bar on the rear bed.
Inside, there's a rear-view parking camera, a choice of ambient interior lighting colours, special Wildtrak stitching and emblems throughout, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
A limited Black Edition takes most of what the Wildtrak model has to offer but paints almost everything in a moody shade, while throwing plenty of leather around the cabin for the most luxurious Ranger experience going.
Ford Ranger Reliability and warranty
There have been a few reports of problems with the Ranger, including engine starting problems and driveshaft joints failing. Although, it should be pointed out that there are very few long-term reliability issues.
The three-year/60,000 mile warranty is pretty average. Other pick-ups, like the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 both have a 100,000 mile warranty, where as the Isuzu D-Max has a five-year/125,000 mile one.