Ford’s robust, handsome-looking and well-designed Ranger is in many respects the ideal pick-up for farmers, builders, landscape gardeners or for somebody who simply needs to tow a horsebox at the weekend. The winner in its category for 2015, one of Ranger’s big plus-points is the breadth and depth of the range; something the majority of its competitors struggle to match.

You can specify it as a 4×2 or a 4×4 – four-wheel-drive is selectable – with a two-door two-seater Regular Cab, a four-door five-seater Double Cab or with what Ford refers to as a Super Cab.

It features forward-hinged front doors and small, rear-hinged back doors. The idea is to provide completely-unobstructed access to the cab’s sides thanks to the absence of a B-pillar.

It’s not a new arrangement – it first appeared on Rangers a dozen or so years ago – but is none the worse for that.

If that’s not enough choice for you then it is worth noting that Ranger is marketed with four different specification levels – XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak – and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.

If all you need to do is chug round rural roads with the occasional sprint down a dual carriageway then either the 125hp or the 150hp version of the 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel that is fitted should be more than sufficient to meet your needs. If you tackle long-distances runs regularly however – if you are a frequent exhibitor at county fairs around the country for instance – and have to tow a heavy exhibition trailer then you may wish to consider the mighty 3.2-litre 200hp Duratorq TDCi instead.

For a comparatively big, heavy pick-up Ranger handles remarkably well, with none of the lurching or wallowing that used to bedevil vehicles like it in the past if you tried to take them into a bend at anything much above walking pace. A slick gear change helps the driver get the best out of the engine and the suspension seems capable of coping with most of what is likely to be thrown at it by Britain’s Third World road surfaces.

Opt for the 4×4 and you will quickly discover that sloppy, rutted farm tracks hold few if any terrors for it. Nor do rural streams – the wading depth is surprisingly generous – and the amount of ground clearance and suspension articulation means you can cope with decent-sized boulders and ruts without grounding.

If you do wallop the underside then there is at least the consolation that Ranger is well-protected against under-floor damage. The fuel tank sits higher than the chassis frame and is shielded, the engine and radiator are shielded too and the transfer case and oil pan are protected by beefy cross-members.

You can switch from 4×2 to high-range 4×4 on the fly – ie when you are in motion – at speeds of up to 75mph.

A neat touch is the way in which the accelerator pedal suddenly feels softer and less-sensitive when four-wheel-drive and the low-range set of gears are selected.  The idea is to prevent the driver accelerating unintentionally if his or her foot suddenly bounces on the pedal when travelling over uneven terrain.

The Electronic Stability Programme recognises when the truck is traversing bumpy ground too and tries to ensure the correct balance between stability and timeliness of intervention. What is more, it can be partly switched off to disable over- and under-steer control, with engine torque reduced at the same time while maintaining brake intervention traction control with the aim of ensuring that 4×4 Ranger keeps ploughing through deep sand or thick, clinging mud.

Did you know?

The Ford Ranger has now secured a hat-trick of Pick-up of the Year Awards since wrestling the prize from Volkswagen in 2013.


Highly Commended – Volkswagen Amarok

Though the Amarok range is a tad restricted – you are limited to a double-cab 4×4 albeit with three different levels of trim – we can forgiven it almost anything because of the availability of a superb eight-speed automatic gearbox as an option. Try it if you get the chance; you will not be disappointed.

That alone justifies its Highly Commended accolade. Other plus-points includes VW’s unimpeachable build standard and its always-impressive 2.0-litre TDI diesel.

In this instance it can be ordered in either 140hp single-turbo or 180hp twin-turbo guise.