The Ranger XL provides a good illustration of how comprehensive Ford’s coverage of the UK’s pick-up sector is.

Serving as the entry point to the Ranger line-up, the XL is available in single, club and double-cab modes. 

It is a world away from the flagship model of the Ranger range, the off-road speed king the Raptor, which will set you back about £50k, and, oh yes, you can’t claim back the VAT on it due to the sub-1.0t payload.

The XL, in fact, is not likely to be considered a lifestyle pick-up even in double-cab guise, unless that lifestyle revolves around a farm or building site or in reaching inaccessible locations for a utility company.

Off-road it’s impressive, with a wading depth of 800mm, 230mm of ground clearance, a 29° approach angle and a 21° departure angle. It can tow up to 3,500kg, and has a payload capacity of up to 1,140kg.

The XL is, however, far from being just an honest workhorse. It gets the refined 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine that Ford introduced across the line-up in 2019 and which also features in the Transit and Transit Custom. This engine is far smoother than the rather gruff 2.2 unit it replaced.

The new engine is tuned to produce 130hp or 170hp with a single turbo, or 213hp with a bi-turbo set-up – the latter installed in the high-performance Raptor model. Respective torque figures are 340Nm, 420Nm and 500Nm. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the 170hp and 213hp engines are also available with a 10-speed automatic.

We got to grips with a double-cab XL with 170hp on tap wed to the six-speed manual gearbox. As we’ve come to expect with Ford, the engine is responsive and the gear change slick. The XL may not be as quiet as the higher-specified Rangers but it’s a good deal less noisy than most other pick-ups apart from the top-of-the-range lifestyle choices.

Having updated the Ranger’s appearance inside and out in 2016 the 2019 facelift was all about the new engines. Nevertheless, the cabin is comfortable enough and the equipment level is decent for an entry-level model. The XL comes with DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and aux points, manual air-conditioning, cruise control, and a four-way manual adjustable driver’s seat to make it easy enough to find a comfortable driving position. An efficient stop/start system comes into its own when negotiating city streets, cutting the engine when you stop at junctions or traffic lights.

The XL also includes daytime running lights and front fog lights while the exterior sports 16in steel wheels, a body-coloured plastic front bumper, and a black rear bumper underrun. Safety features include a lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed assistance.

The steering wheel is pleasingly chunky and compact with controls mounted on it for infotainment and vehicle data. The accuracy of the power-assisted steering and precision of the gear change adds to the sense that body roll is well controlled even on winding rural roads.

Additionally, our truck came with extra-cost options such as metallic paint (£480, all prices listed exclude VAT), a trailer tow pack consisting of hitch and 13 pin socket (£384), locking wheel nuts (£77), and a load box bedliner with power point and tie-down hooks (£240).

One gripe with accessing the load bed is that despite the tailgate being listed as coming with an easy lift/lower mechanism, it is heavy and crashes open without restraint if you don’t keep a firm hold on it.

Ford Ranger XL 2.0 170hp 

Price (ex VAT) £23,576

Price range (inc VAT) £21,346-£50,289 

Insurance group 37E

Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls

Service intervals 2yrs/12,500mls + annual inspection

Load length 1,613mm

Load width (min/max) 1,139/1,560mm 

Load bay height 511mm

Gross payload 1,140kg

Load volume n/a

Engine size/power 1,996cc/170hp

Combined fuel economy 40.9mpg

CO2 179g/km