The Ford Ranger is the 2019 Auto Express Pick-up of the Year, with the Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara commended
The pick-up truck sector is a hugely competitive one, but it’s taken five years for our reigning champ, the Mitsubishi L200, to be dethroned. With a revised engine range, new automatic gearbox option and the introduction of a halo model to draw in buyers, the Ford Ranger has done more than enough to earn our Pick-up of the year award.
The biggest change is the arrival of Ford’s latest 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel. This was first seen in the Transit and Transit Custom vans in 2018, but don’t go thinking that this is some agricultural powerplant.
It’s a thoroughly modern, emissions-compliant motor that’s refined, smooth and more efficient than ever. In the Ranger it’s available with 168bhp or 210bhp outputs, and it replaces both the 2.2 TDCi and five-cylinder 3.2 TDCi engines. Although, with up to 500Nm of torque, there’s still plenty of pulling power on offer if you use the Ranger for towing.
To get that power to the road, there’s either a six-speed manual gearbox or a new 10-speed auto, which was first seen in the Mustang.
As well as delivering improved economy and better performance, the Ranger now also has a level of refinement that gives it an edge over its rivals. Go for the practical Double Cab body and this is a truck that’s every bit as at home on the school run as it is on the construction site. It makes an attractive alternative to an SUV for business users.
Trim updates have seen the Limited and Wildtrak models get more kit, as well as revised looks, but the real star of the show is Ford’s new halo model, the Ranger Raptor. It channels the DNA from the US-market F-150 Raptor into its more compact body, and while it has the same powerful diesel as the Wildtrak, the bespoke off-road suspension, big brakes, knobbly tyres and beefed-up looks go a long way to making it feel like a sportier machine – even the diesel engine has a racier note than it does in the standard model. This could even turn out to be a tempting choice for performance car buyers who are on the hunt for a hotter SUV.
Our choiceFord Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue 170 Limited Double Cab (£28,406 ex VAT)
While the Ranger Raptor has the show and the go, the Limited still delivers the kind of kit that makes these pick-ups so popular. Touchscreen infotainment with sat-nav and SYNC3, heated leather seats, xenon lights and a rear camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors, are all included. Unless you’re going to do a lot of towing, then choosing the 168bhp diesel won’t be any hardship compared with the 197bhp version, and it’ll save a bit on fuel, too.
Although it didn’t manage to take a fifth pick-up truck title in 2019, the L200 is still a great choice, especially if you go for a well equipped final-run Challenger version. And with the Series 6 L200 due in showrooms towards the end of the year, Mitsubishi might not be off the top spot for long.
It’s been the L200’s arch-nemesis for years, and the Nissan Navara shares the runner-up spoils with its main rival this year. With a big cabin and switchgear shared with the likes of the Qashqai and X-Trail, the Navara shows how far the pick-up truck class has come. And like the L200, it’ll be updated for next year, too.
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