Why I Chose A Ford Ranger Pickup Truck
An Honest Appraisal
Running a dog kennelling business and living in an area that can get very muddy, last year I decided to buy a pickup truck strong enough and capable enough to handle everything I could throw at it. After considering my options (and available budget) carefully, I decided that the Ford Ranger 2.5TD 4x4 pickup truck would be my best choice. Just to clarify, I am discussing the European version and not the North American, which is a completely different vehicle in so many ways. The European version was developed by Mazda and built in Thailand. In fact the vehicle is a nothing more than rebadged Mazda B2500 pickup truck. It competes favourably in a market that is also inhabited by the Mitsubushi L200 and the Nissan Navara.
The Ford Ranger Pickup Truck began life in 1999 as a no-nonsense, all round workhorse. Then in response to increased demand for the pickup as a combined work and family vehicle, it underwent a facelift in 2003. The post 2003 models feature a more prominent chrome grille, restyled bumpers and interiors that feature increased comfort and equipment levels.
My Ford Ranger is the 2003 facelift model with XLT version extras that include air conditioning and electric everything. It has a two-tone paint job in Silver and Blue with chrome running boards and rear bumper and a nice set of alloy wheels as standard. To be completely honest, I would have preferred a post 2006 model when a much improved and more economical common rail diesel engine was introduced and upgrades to the suspension and bushes made the vehicle still feel more like a road car when on the tarmac whilst also improving the off-road experience. Unfortunately my budget at the time did not allow me that luxury.
Choosing a Pickup Truck
My Ford Ranger Pickup Truck had less than 50,000 verifiable miles on the clock and did not display any signs of commercial usage. It is the 4 door super-cab version which gives me similarity to a road car with the added bonus of a large load carrying area. I have enclosed the load area with a Truckman style hard top to make it suitable for carrying dogs. At £4000 I feel that it represents exceptionally good value for money. The used pickup truck market can be a bit of a minefield. If you do not practice due diligence and research the history of the vehicle, you could end up with a truck that has had a difficult life carrying heavy loads or working on a swampy farm. On the other hand you could come across one that has been used as a family vehicle and carried nothing more than the weekly shopping or the kids on the school run.
The 2003 Ford Ranger Pickup has a strong if a little noisy 2.5-litre Duratorq turbo diesel engine that turns me in around 24 miles to the gallon on a run, reducing considerably for shorter and off-road trips. I am not finding it particularly economical, although fuel economy has been improved by around 22% with the superior engine fitted to the post 2006 model. It is a strong and so far extremely reliable engine. Road handling on asphalt is not dissimilar to a road car, with the suspension giving a reasonably smooth ride and a confidence inspiring road handling experience. I find the gear change a little notchy and also experience some judder when pulling away. The one other quibble I have with this vehicle is that there is no low fuel warning light and therefore easy to run out of fuel if you are not careful.
Off road, the 4 wheel drive performs without a problem and can handle just about any conditions. The ride height of the vehicle means that most terrains are accessible. The off-road experience is a fairly bumpy and vibratory experience and again was improved in the 2006 upgrades. Suspension and steering parts do not appear to be fit for purpose and in just one year I have had to replace a rear leaf spring (which broke for apparently no reason) and inner and outer track rod ends. This could be indicative of a mindset within the design office leaning towards the view that the Ranger was becoming primarily a family vehicle. However this was obviously rethought for the post 2006 model
I am pleased with my purchase of a Ford Ranger Pickup Truck and it is more than up to the tasks I set it which include a fair amount of off road use in difficult conditions. Parts for the Ranger are reasonable in comparison with similar vehicles from other manufacturers. It is reassuringly reliable and I would never try to dissuade anyone from buying one. If you can afford to go to a post 2006 model then I would recommend that you do. Even the earlier models will get you a strong, capable vehicle at a price that won’t bust the bank account.