Ford recorded their all-time best ever month for commercial vehicle sales in March and contributing to those 21,315 registrations, firmly in the top three in its segment, is the Ford Ranger pick-up truck.
Pick-up trucks are considered light-commercial vehicles in the UK – which means they come with a host of benefit-in-kind and VAT benefits for canny business buyers, provided they can carry a payload of more than one tonne.
Ford Ranger Wildtrak Double Cab
Price: £33,404.64 (£37610.64 as tested)
Engine: 3.2-litre, five-cylinder, diesel
Top speed: 109mph
0-62mkph: 10.9 seconds
Economy: 33.6mpg combined
C02 emissions: 221g/km
But nobody wants to ferry the family around in something industrial, bare bones and more suited to a squad of labourers than the darling kids – which is where blinged-up, luxe five-seaters like the Wildtrak Double Cab come in.
Our test model came with Ford’s Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system, rear-view camera, sat-nav, leather seats and steering wheel, a coolbox for your lunch and more ambient lighting than a Sigur Ros show.
Every bit as well equipped as most high-end mass-market saloons or SUVs, the Ranger adds a feeling of imperviousness it would be difficult to match without a MOD connection, a proper 4×4 system with selectable low-range gearbox and a flatbed big enough to shift a pool table.
To drive, the Ranger is surprisingly refined. There’s a lot of wind noise, which you’d expect from something with the aerodynamics of a three-bedroom semi, but beyond that the cabin was quiet, even at motorway speeds.
When a vehicle is almost six feet tall you expect it to wobble around a bit in the corners – but the suspension is surprisingly stiff under normal driving conditions and it’s more car-like to drive than you’d expect. Despite the new electric power steering system, introduced for the first time on this generation of Ranger, you can’t get away from the fact that it feels massive.
If you’re tempted to take the plunge and opt for a Ranger as your daily driver don’t expect it to handle like a Kuga or Ecosport in the city.
Our test car was equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox which has a pleasingly short shift compared with some manual pick-ups I’ve driven.
The 200 horsepower 3.2-litre diesel engine under our test car’s massive bonnet powers the Ranger from nought to 62 in a shade under 11 seconds and, Ford say, will still give you a combined mpg figure of 33.6.
Over the course of my test I covered more than 600 miles and the demonstrator wasn’t far off at 28.5. The bulk of those miles were on the motorway, however, and the stop-start of city driving was less forgiving.
It might be classed as a commercial vehicle on paper, but I’m not testing the Ranger as a work van, I’m testing it as a family car – because that’s why trim levels like ‘Wildtrak’ exist.
I’m sure it’s brilliant on the building site – and it’s a nice place to be and not at all bad to drive – but the one significant drawback that would put me off buying a pick-up as opposed to a similarly specced large SUV is that the big load bay is absolutely useless for transporting anything small, like bags of shopping, school bags, buggies and laptop bags – you know, all the stuff that you expect a family car to be able to handle.Even with the bed liner and assorted anchor points it’s simply too big for a typical family boot load and we ended up with assorted shopping bags around our ankles in the cabin most of the time so our eggs didn’t scramble before we got home.
And the other drawback would be the price. I’m not self employed and I’m not entitled to to a company car so were I to consider the Ranger Wildtrak I’d need to pay full whack which, for our test model was £37,610.64 including options.
There are much cheaper ways to scramble an egg.