First Drive: Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue Review

The revised Ford Ranger has now arrived into UK showrooms, promising more power, fuel economy, better refinement and more safety systems.

Ford has also ditched the 2.2 and 3.2-litre engines in all but the Wildtrak double cab models, replacing them with a range of 2.0-litre EcoBlue engines.

The current generation, the T6, hit European dealerships in 2012, but it is already one of the oldest models on the market. A major facelift in 2016 helped the Ranger achieve Euro-6 status, and this second update serves as a stopgap until the next all-new model comes out in 2022 – which is expected to also be sold as the Volkswagen Amarok.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford Ranger: Models and Specs

In terms of design, this is a relatively light touch-up with the facelift largely limited to just the front bumper design and a new grille, with the central horizontal bar now split along its length into two slim sections.

Available as a regular, super (extended), or double cab, the new Ranger now features four-wheel drive as standard. As with the previous generation, there are four trim levels (XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak) although there will be a number of special editions like the Ranger Raptor and forthcoming Ranger Thunder.

Ford Ranger: New Engine Options

Ford has replaced the 2.2 and 3.2-litre engines with a new 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine inherited from the Transit line, with a choice of three power ratings.

An entry-level 129hp/340Nm unit is available on single cab models, while a middle 168hp/420Nm engine is optional across the entire range. The 210/500Nm option is reserved purely for double cab models only.

Interestingly, while fuel economy on the top output has improved (29.7mpg on the 3.2TDCi 197hp v 35.8mpg on 2.0 EcoBlue 210hp), the mid-spec and entry-level engines are both less efficient and emit more CO2.

There are two transmissions; either a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed was developed in conjunction with General Motors and, in terms of performance, is virtually seamless and does well to keep the 2.0-litre engine in its narrow power bracket.

However, it fails to push you to the back of your seat like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 or Amarok V6. With the most powerful 210hp/500Nm output, it still takes 10.1 seconds to reach 62mph, although this drops to 9 seconds for the well-optimised automatic.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Gearbox

Ford Ranger: No 3.2-Litre Five-Cylinder?

Given that the 3.2-litre makes up almost two-thirds of European sales, it’s unlikely Ford will leave the 2.0-litre as the sole engine option and executives at Ford have hinted that the new UK-designed 3.0-litre V6 ‘Powerstroke’ diesel – which features in the Ford F150 from 2018 – may make an appearance, which could challenge the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok as the most powerful pickup.

For now, the 3.2-litre option will continue to be available in some models.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford Ranger: Cabin Technology

Very little has changed on the inside visually, with the main update centring around technology. The cab is definitely starting to feel its age now and, despite the raised seating position, visibility isn’t the best due to the high-standing dashboard and high bonnet which obscures vision.

Every model comes equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, and a DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary points. The Ranger XLT adds electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a CD player, 4.2-inch infotainment screen, SYNC voice control and leather steering wheel with audio controls. Leather seats, a coolbox in the centre console, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and SYNC3 with an eight-inch touchscreen come with the Limited model, while Wildtrak adds satellite navigation, twin USB ports and ambient lighting.

A new FordPass Connect on-board modem turns the Ranger into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices, and also enables a range of features to be accessed via the accompanying mobile app – making the vehicle ownership and operating experience more productive for owner-drivers and fleet operators.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Interior

Ford Ranger: On and off the Road

As the model hasn’t fundamentally changed since 2012, the Ranger lags when it comes to ride and handling. The steering doesn’t feel well connected with the road and, due to its raised chassis and huge suspension travel, there’s quite a lot of body roll generated in the bends.

The flip side is that the Ranger deals well with bumps and divots, leading to a smooth ride.

Off-road work has always been a strong point for the Ranger. The excellent axle articulation means it stays better connected with the ground, and there’s great clearance (225mm), approach and departure angles (up to 29 and 27 degrees respectively) as well as a class-leading 800mm wading depth.

The impressive four-wheel-drive system with 2Hi, 4Hi and 4Low settings is now standard across the range, and it works in conjunction with electronic stability control and traction control.

Ford Ranger: Upgraded Safety

The Ranger introduces a few ‘sector firsts’ with Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Intelligent Speed Assist as standard, while the Ford KeyFree System and Ford Power starter button is now available, and the tailgate lock is now integrated into the central locking system

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford Ranger: Loading and Towing

All models this side of the Raptor have a minimum one-tonne payload and are available with up to 3.5t towing capacity.

Nothing has changed when it comes to dimensions; the load bed is measured at 1,549mm long by 1,560mm wide, and loads are kept more secure by the 511mm high side walls. Single Cabs have a 2,317mm load length, while its 1,847mm on the Super Cab.

Ford Ranger: Price and Availability

Prices for the Ford Ranger have increased slightly to £20,845 plus VAT for the XL to £29,845 plus VAT for the manual Wildtrak; an increase of almost £3,000 since 2016.

Ford invested £180m in the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria and the Struandale engine factory in Port Elizabeth in November 2017, where the current European Ranger and its engines are manufactured, so we can say with confidence that Ford will not be shifting production from South Africa for some time.

The good news is that the capacity will be increasing from 100,000 to 124,000 units per year, which should alleviate the availability issues.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi. Is there any update on the 3.2 replacement and any hints on the UK launch date?
    Thanks, Mick.

  2. On the Ford UK website, it lists the 3.2 as being available in the new Ranger, and you can even ‘build’ one on the configurator.

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