Ford Ranger Thunder 2.0L Eco Blue Auto

It’s big, brash has plenty of creature comforts and is very capable, says John Kendall.

SECTOR Pickup Truck PRICE £40,850 MPG 36.7 GROSS PAYLOAD 1,024kg DRIVE 213hp, 500Nm Eco Blue diesel, 10-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive

One look at our Ranger Thunder test vehicle and Clint Eastwood’s movie, “The Mule”, featuring Eastwood at the wheel of a black Ford F-150 double-cab pickup came fairly readily to mind. The black, powerful, somewhat menacing Ranger Thunder looks like the kind of vehicle that could find a part in such a film, although all cargos carried in the writing of this road test were strictly legal and no Mexicans were involved.

As Henry Ford himself said, you can have the Ranger Thunder in any colour you like as long as it’s Sea Grey Metallic. Most of us would call it black. As we have suggested, it’s not a pickup for the shy and retiring. Standard equipment includes Ebony Black 18” alloys, an Ebony Black sports hoop with Race Red stripe – roll over bar to you and me, black roof rails, black side steps, black door handles, and black grille. It’s quite big on black.

Inside there are heated front seats, with electrically adjustable driver’s seat and the seats are upholstered in part leather. Ford’s SYNC 3 system is fitted with satellite navigation, DAB radio, two USB ports and speakers everywhere.

The comprehensive drive system allows switching from two-wheel drive high, 4WD high and 4WD low. There is also a separate diff lock if the going gets tough. You would probably have to be fairly unlucky to get stuck. Ranger Thunder comes with 213hp and 500Nm of torque from Ford’s Eco Blue diesel, driving through a smooth 10-speed automatic, so it should be able to get out of trouble off-road more easily than some rivals, particularly with low ratio 4WD and a diff lock to help.

It’s a large pickup, far bigger than rangers used to be and offers a generous load area. I’m not convinced that anyone who had spent £40k on a pickup truck would be spending too much time getting it dirty or making much use of its carrying capacity. That probably excludes most fleet buyers too, who would likely be looking at lesser pickups for working use.

The Ranger is particularly at home eating up motorway miles, where 10th gear cruising is relaxed and the comfort of the Ranger Thunder’s cab can be appreciated. Its off-road capability means that it does roll a fair bit like a traditional pickup – it may look mean, but it’s built for comfort, not speed. It will tow a 3,500kg trailer and that would probably be a strength of the Ranger Thunder too, as a good towing vehicle.

A reversing camera is standard with Thunder spec overcoming one of the long running problems with pickup trucks – the difficulty of seeing what is immediately behind.

One thing I have not succeeded in doing with any of the recent Fords we have tested is to find how to navigate around the Ford Sync3 system. In other light CVs and cars I have driven, connecting my phone using Apple CarPlay is straightforward – plug the phone in and connect it up. Whenever I do this on a recent Ford, I cannot find a way back to the built-in satellite navigation, so end up using Apple Maps for navigation. That’s not a big problem and it may be a case of operator error, or me not spending enough time familiarising myself with the system.

THE LOWDOWN

KEY FLEET MODEL

LIMITED SUPERCAB 2-LITRE ECOBLUE 170PS MANUAL.

STRENGTHS

COMFORT. TOWING CAPACITY. PAYLOAD.

WEAKNESSES

PRICE. PRACTICALITY (THUNDER).

THE VERDICT

The Ranger Thunder is undoubtedly comfortable for motorway cruising and would probably be a fine towing vehicle. Otherwise, it is not the Ranger model fleets would choose for a working vehicle.