Long Term Van Test Drive: Ford Ranger - May 2012

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We were impressed when we first got to drive the new Ford Ranger. Now, beneath its macho exterior, our new long-termer from the blue oval’s stable is already revealing layers of refinement. James Dallas reports

Our eagerly awaited new long-termer, a handsomely specced Ford Ranger Limited with an imposing presence that makes it impossible to ignore, has taken up residence at What Van?
The Limited stands below the Wildtrak at the top of the Ranger line-up, above XL and XLT versions, but whereas the flagship Wildtrak is targeted specifically at outdoor adventurers seeking weekend thrills off the beaten track, the Limited, although more than capable off-road, is expected to appeal more to “sophisticated” city dwellers, spending most of its time with tarmac beneath its 17-inch alloy wheels.
So far, that’s exactly what our model has done, covering a mix of city streets, A-roads and dual carriageways.
Powered by the 2.2-litre, 150hp Duratorq TDCi powertrain, we opted for the six-speed manual gearbox over the automatic transmission also on offer. We also plumped for the double cab bodystyle that will dominate sales.
The new Ranger is considerably more refined than its utilitarian predecessor but manoeuvring its hulk around cramped urban streets can still be hard work when multiple gear changes are required. Sleeping policemen can be encountered without trepidation but more care needs to be taken when negotiating the road-narrowing traffic-calming measures that populate south London, their metal barriers rainbow-streaked with the paint of past victims.
This is particularly hazardous considering our pick-up is coated in Ford’s gleaming metallic Performance Blue, which comes at an additional cost of £480 on top of its price, excluding VAT, of £22,040.
Our Ranger Limited is at home out on the open road where the ride is firm but comfortable and soaks up bumps and potholes without transmitting the impact to the driver or passengers. The gear change is well-spaced and predictable and early impressions of the new rack and pinion steering would seem to bear out Ford’s claim that it imparts a lighter, more car-like driving feel to the pick-up.
The Limited comes with parking distance sensors as standard but our model also gets a very impressive rear view camera incorporated into the rear view mirror. This feature is bundled in with the satellite navigation system and will set you back £750.
The leather-covered steering wheel can be adjusted for height and reach and the driver benefits from an eight-way electrically adjustable seat that includes lumbar support.
As you would expect there is MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth, with audio controls and cruise control buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
Noise levels inside the cab are well suppressed. Ford accredits this to a frame that is 40% stiffer than that of the outgoing Ranger, and also to extensive testing in wind tunnels during development, which, it claims, has cut wind noise for both front and rear occupants by 22%. The manufacturer says the introduction of a double-sealing system for the doors and improved back panel and floor sealing has delivered class-leading suppression of air leakage.
An impressive list of safety features includes Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System as standard.
After a brief period on our fleet the Limited went back to base to get fitted with a Truckman cover for its load area, but more of that next time.



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