Why we chose a Ranger

We owned our first Land Rover in 1995.  The last one we have had for 13 years and she has taken us to 3 continents, the Sahara Desert and the Arctic Circle.  When we needed a replacement we immediately felt that it had to be a Defender.  So, how did we end up with a Ford Ranger?

IMG_2712We set ourselves a criteria for our new Expedition Vehicle.  It had to:

  • be classed as a commercial vehicle
  • be as new and low mileage as possible
  • had to double up as a daily use vehicle for a daily 50 miles roundtrip commute
  • have proven off-road capability
  • have a low range gearbox
  • be able to support a winch
  • be able to have a long range fuel tank
  • have an international support network
  • have a bed that was easier to access than a rooftent
  •  have a space where we could sit comfortably out of the weather
  • be tall enough to allow us to stand up and get dressed
  • have a space where we could have a full body wash (preferably a shower)
  • have a space where we could go to the toilet (when a spade just wouldn’t do!)

We looked at the possibility of a bespoke camper build on the back of a Defender but we decided that this wasn’t a viable option based on the need for a daily commuter.  The answer was a demountable camper on a pickup.  I’ll give more details of our search for the ideal demountable in another post.

We narrowed the choice of vehicle to 4 double cabs; Defender 130, Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger.  As well as comparing them to each other we also compared them to our disco.  This was how the stacked up:

Discovery Defender Hilux D-Max Ranger
Seats 10 7 5 8 9
Noise 6 8 7 8 9
Ride 7 7 5 9 9
Autobox 10 0 (£5k) 10 10 10
ABS 10 0 10 10 10
Airbags 8 0 10 10 10
General feel/comfort 8 7 5 7 10
Emotional connection 10 10 0 0 6
Looks (just our opinion) 10 10 5 8 10
Total 79 49 57 70.5 83

The discovery scored so high because we had spent an inordinate amount of time a money making it better.  Recaro seats, increased soundproofing and better suspension amongst other things.  In fact we were both really surprised about just how good she was when compared to these modern vehicles.  Of course you do have to bear in mind that these are all commercial vehicles and not luxury saloons or 4x4s.

The Defender clearly lost out because of the lack of safety features and cost of an autobox conversion.

We both found the Hilux seats uncomfortable and they lacked adjustment apart from the basics.  We also didn’t like the abundance of chrome and silver and we found the ride and engine a bit harsh.

The D-Max was a surprise but felt more basic than the ford and we were informed that the autobox wasn’t as nice as the Ranger.

Having had Fords in the past we were slightly biased, but we just felt that it stood out against the others.  We also liked the fact that this was the same vehicle that is being sold in 180 countries and is hugely popular in Australia and South Africa.  It even had its own ‘baby’ Camel Trophy Event called The Ford Ranger Odyssey.

It’s early days but after a a few days of commuting we’re both really happy with our decision so far.


  1. Please contact me as i would like to discuss how we might be able to assist each other during your new build.

  2. Does this model have the same issue that we have here in Australia? As when performing an Engine Oil Change, that u can’t let it sit there as drain for very long as u lose the prim in the oil pump and u can do damage to your engine when u go to start your engine again??

    • Rob,although I haven’t found any specific reference to it on any UK forums I would guess that the same issue applies to the UK spec cars. When it gets near to service time I shall confirm with the dealer and see if there is any solution or what the exact limitations are. I’m not too concerned so long as I know the correct procedure.
      From what I can gather there are very few differences between the Australian, South African and UK models except for some minor bits and pieces. Annoyingly one of the differences is a lack of rear diff lock, on UK models, which is something I was keen to have.

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