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FORD'S RANGER POINTS THE WAY (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The much improved Ford Ranger pick-up is far more efficient, as well as being smarter and very media-savvy. Plus it's still tough and decent to drive for a vehicle of this kind. Jonathan Crouch investigates.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 42
Ford's improved Ranger really has gone large in its appeal as a competitive proposition against tough rivals in the pick-up segment. The idea is to tempt everyone from builders to surf-boarding, mountain-biking families with what is now a very complete product indeed.
Backgroundword count: 151
It took Ford a long time to create a pick-up tailored to the needs of European customers but the brand finally managed it with the third generation Ranger model it launched in 2012. With this line-up, the marque at last had a product to properly compete with the tough Japanese triumvirate that rule this market segment this side of the Atlantic, Mitsubishi's L200, Toyota's Hilux and Nissan's Navara. All three are good vehicles but very obviously commercial in feel. This Ranger claims to offer something more, if not a road car with a pick-up deck, then the closest thing to that we've yet seen, with a design versatile enough for export to over 180 countries. Since this vehicle's original launch though, pick-up buyers have become more demanding, especially in terms of the efficiency they expect and the technology they want. This heavily revised Ranger line-up represents Ford's answer to that need.
Driving Experienceword count: 267
There aren't many pick-ups developed first and foremost to prioritise driving dynamics, but this is one of them. So what's it like? Well, really, it depends upon your expectations. Does it ride and handle like a Discovery? Well of course it doesn't. A Discovery isn't built to take a 1.3-tonne payload. But does it set handling standards for the pick-up segment? Very definitely yes, more agile, stable, precise and comfortable than any vehicle of its kind we've seen to date. There's decent steering feel for a pick-up too. Double Cab high-power variants now feature Active Noise Control technology for improved refinement. Under the bonnet, the key news lies with the introduction of a new 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine to replace the previous 2.2-litre TDCi unit. It comes in a couple of single-turbo guises, with either 130 or 170PS. Plus there's a flagship bi-turbo 213PS unit with 500Nm of torque. Of course, if you're a typical Ranger owner, you'll want to be putting its all-terrain capability to the test on a pretty regular basis. Which is why, though there's a two-wheel drive entry-level model for those that want it, most of the range is built around 4WD variants. As usual with vehicles of this type, this one runs in 2WD unless you rotate this controller to its '4H' '4x4 High' setting, something that can be done on the move. That'll be fine for slippery tarmac and grassy fields, but for anything more serious than that, you'll want to switch further into the '4L' '4x4 Low range' mode that'll give you a seriously go-anywhere set of off road ratios.
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