COURMAYEUR, ITALY -- Ford of Britain invited a group of lifestyle and motoring journalists to the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur recently to put the new Ford Ranger through its paces in snowy conditions.
The journalists drove both the 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi Limited with 6-speed manual transmission and the top-of-the range 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi Wildtrak with 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Unseasonably warm daytime temperatures meant freeze-thaw conditions, with sheet ice in the mornings and deep slush in the afternoons. However, Ranger coped admirably both on- and off-road. Here’s what the journalists thought…
Jonny Smith, Fifth Gear – “It’s remarkable because pick-ups are normally an absolute dog on roads, yet we were driving it for probably half an hour before I realised ‘we’re not in a car’. That was the weird thing. I just suddenly defaulted to thinking we’re in a car.
“The main thing that made it feel like a car is the suspension, because the suspension of a pick-up is normally horrible, it bounces and it nods when it’s unloaded, and this feels like a car. It’s very nice and composed, there’s no jidderyness. You kind of feel like you’re tip-toeing in a pick-up, so I don’t know what they’ve done but they’ve done it really well in that respect.
“I drove a Hilux last week, a current, new Hilux, and this knocks spots off it for ride. Totally. Because this does drive like a car rather than a commercial vehicle. If you get in this and you’ve never driven a pick-up before you’ll be spoilt.”
Sam Hardy, News Editor, Auto Express – “It’s a big step forward really because it’s a much more upmarket car and it feels much more grown-up to drive.
“You definitely notice the quality interior and the road manners and it’s much quieter on the motorway as well. It’s a much more viable prospect, I think, for people who want something that’s a bit utilitarian, can do a lot of things, but can also do a road-going job too. So it’s a big leap forward. “
Jon Quirk, Acting Editor, Auto Trader – “I’m very impressed. It’s a much more refined proposition. We’ve done a mixture of motorway runs and off-road sections over the course of the last two days and it has much better high-speed stability on the motorway, even when there’s nothing in the back, which is really impressive… It’s very confidence-inspiring to drive, both with the manual transmission and the auto box. I think it is a big leap forward.
“We’ve been staying at a complex where a couple of guys who have got Mitsubishi L200s have been coming down and they’re a little bit galled when they see the proposition. Cabin quality’s much better, ride and refinement is a lot better when you’re just using it as a bit of a workhorse on normal roads, and yet it still does all the stuff you expect and it still has that visual robustness you expect from an off-roader. I’m very impressed.”
Jamie Merrill, The Independent – “We came down the whole way through France in it and got better fuel economy than I thought we would, and on the motorway it was far more comfortable than I expected. I was expecting quite a utilitarian, bare bones vehicle but the Wildtrak, with its leather heated seats, is very, very comfortable.”
Leon Poultney, Entertainment Editor, Zoo magazine – “I thought it was fantastic. I don’t drive a lot of big off-road 4x4s and it’s just really easy with all the settings on. I was a bit wary about the off-road course we did but it just almost pulls itself along, it’s so simple to drive.
“It feels very car-like. I had the manual, which I think was brilliant because I was keeping up with the automatic quite easily. Gear changes were nice and smooth, it felt stable it wasn’t too jolty and bumpy on the road, it was great. There’s decent pull on the engine as well, you can definitely feel when the boost kicks in as well when you put your foot down.”
Sean Lawless, Editor, Dirtbike Rider magazine – “It feels very civilised, you feel like you’re in a modern car really. I do a lot of miles in vans and you know you’re in a van, everything’s rattling and it’s not luxury transport, but this is really, really comfortable.
“I was really impressed with it off-road. I thought when we did the off-roading bit you wouldn’t expect to get up there in something this size, but this had no wheelspin at all, it just gripped all the way up, it was really good, lots of traction.”