Only for show?
How tough the Ford Ranger is depends on the chosen version. For instance, the Ranger comes with one or two rows of seats and with regular or "Raptor" trim. The test car is a "Double Cab Raptor" with four seats and extravagant trim.
By American standards, the Ranger is only a mid-size pickup truck, but in absolute terms this remains a huge car. The Ranger is too long for the average parking space and too tall for many garages. Not entirely surprisingly, getting in requires a modest climb. There awaits a cabin where everything is big, chunky and solid. Both front and rear head and legroom are good. The seat upholstery is easy to clean, but partly for that reason it is slippery.
Countering the lacklustre American interior design are European equipment and controls. The new Ranger features the same equipment as Ford's latest passenger cars. That means a modern infotainment system and many active safety features. Compared to the previous Ranger, those systems have been improved to be more reliable and/or have a longer range. For example, blind spot detection can now be set to take into account a trailer. When reverse parking, the Ranger can brake for obstacles by itself, while warning for cross traffic. The sound of the B&O audio system is clear and refined.
Thanks to a new rear suspension, the cargo bed is larger than before and fits a euro pallet. The optional cargo bed cover can be opened and closed electrically. All around, the Ranger has lights to allow working in the dark. Sockets (400 watts) can be found in the cargo bed. Bear in mind that these have much less endurance than those in Ford's electric utility vehicles. Regular versions have a step behind the wheel arch for easy climbing into the cargo bed. The Raptor does not have these because of maximum ground clearance.
The Ranger is available with upgraded versions of existing diesel engines. Entirely new for the Ranger is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. With this, Ford aims to appeal to buyers who use their pickup for both business and personal use. Despite the large engine capacity and twin turbo, the power output is relatively modest: 292 hp / 491 Nm. Both in the city and on the highway, the Ranger Raptor therefore manages to impress only with the engine noise (sounds of the tyres and driving wind are, on the contrary, very modest) and hardly with its actual performance. The Ranger Raptor is never slow, but compared to its tough looks and roaring exhausts, spectacular performance fails to materialise. Also, it doesn't matter which driving mode is chosen, because in sport mode the Ranger is only wilder but not faster.
Only the fuel consumption is rightly spectacular: Ford promises 14 litres per 100 km and even that can only be achieved with a very calm driving style over long distances. With this consumption comes CO2 emissions of 315 grams per 100 km, which means the Ranger Raptor emits even more than modern super sports cars! In short: get a diesel.
The Ranger is primarily intended as an off-road vehicle and also tailored to American tastes. Despite the new, modern suspension, the body tilts and the driver has to adjust the driving style. Also good to know: the turning circle is huge and so the Ranger requires a lot of space in town for that reason too. The comfort is excellent and together with the high seat this gives a great sense of calm; it doesn't have to be fast or wild at all!
As soon as the Ranger swaps paved roads for off-road, everything is in a completely different perspective. Now the engine power may be modest, but the oversized engine provides huge reserves. And the twin turbo is not for double the power, but to build up the power as smoothly as possible! Off-road, the driver is always looking for a balance between slip and grip, and the Ranger makes that easy.
To make off-roading even easier, the driver can choose from standard programmes for mud, snow, rocks and more. From these, the gearbox (high or low gearing), front and/or rear difflock are automatically engaged and the anti-slip control adjusted. The central display shows how the computer adjusts the mechanics (for maximum endurance here, no electronic substitutes!) and the driver has the option to adjust this as he sees fit. Only the tyre pressure has to be adjusted manually by the driver, and this was reduced to 1.5 bar for this occasion.
For this test, it was driven in medium to heavy terrain with deep mud and steep slopes. Because everything about the Raptor is made for off-road driving, from the chassis through the mechanicals to the tyres, the driver always communicates with the Ranger perfectly. Man, the mechanics and the computer work together almost perfectly off-road, making the most of all possibilities. Also thanks to cameras all around, it is not always necessary to get out to explore the terrain and problems (or dirty feet) are avoided.
When the terrain becomes less demanding, Baja mode can be chosen if necessary. Then off-road capability and speed are combined, while the electronics give lots of freedom so that the Raptor rider feels like a true racing driver!
Does the fifth generation of the Ford Ranger revolve around show or functionality? That depends a lot on the chosen version. For a base version with diesel engine, it is all about functionality. Then this is an off-road-worthy pickup truck that shares in the latest luxury and safety features of Ford's passenger cars. Compared to the previous Ranger, comfort has been greatly improved partly for this reason. Thanks to sophisticated rear suspension, a Euro pallet can now also fit in the cargo bed.
In the Raptor version driven here, the Ranger is more exciting to look at, more richly equiped and even better suited for tough terrain. However, the petrol engine is too much of a good thing in this respect. Consumption and CO2 emissions are extremely high and from another era. Besides, the Ranger's real strength is in its off-road technology and diesel also suffices. The combination of a bespoke chassis (Raptor only), and the cooperation between mechanics and electronics give the Ranger its real power.
- Extremely capable off-road
- Great and comfortable on public roads
- Smooth seat coverings (Raptor)
- Extremely high consumption and emissions petrol engine