Order books will open for the eagerly anticipated new-generation Ford Ranger later this year, in readiness for early 2023 deliveries – although pickup fans who like the extra-tough, in-yer-face Raptor version have been able to indulge their passion since May, with the hope of getting their hands on one in late summer.
The current Ranger, which remains on sale and continues to feature in our Ultimate Guide to pickup vehicles, is the clear market number one across Europe, and in Britain has seen off the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200, both of which are no longer available.
Only the Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux remain to challenge the Ranger’s volume position, with SsangYong’s refreshed Musso and Volkswagen’s new-generation Amarok also pitching in.
See also: Tips for buying a second-hand pickup: Ford Ranger
Pickup buyer’s guide 2022-23
Download a pdf of the 2022-23 pickup buyer’s guide here
Ford refreshed the UK line-up for 2022, adding the Wolftrac special edition with manual transmission and extra equipment over the XLT, including a locking rear axle diff, a spray-on liner and side bars, rear parking sensors and satnav to the standard spec.
Likewise, the Stormtrak limited edition in auto guise adds items such as 18in black alloy wheels and a drop-in load bed liner to the Ranger Limited spec. It also features a new power-operated roller shutter cover that is optional on the Wolftrac.
A more individual appearance is provided by the MS-RT limited edition, named after a company that specialises in customising Ford commercial vehicles with bespoke front end and rear bodywork, fat wheel arches and unique colour schemes.
The new line-up on its way in 2023 is being built at Ford factories in Thailand and South Africa, and inevitably features vehicles with yet more driver assistance and connectivity functions.
Key hardware differences include a 50mm longer wheelbase and 50mm wider track; neither sounds significant but moving the front wheels forward has apparently liberated a bit more knee room for passengers in the rear bench seat of the double-cab model.
The wider stance, said to further improve ride comfort and stability, also ensures that a full-size pallet can be placed in the load bed between the wheel arches.
The introduction of a 3-litre V6 turbodiesel coupled to a 10-speed auto will have pickup users who like more than enough power under their right foot salivating, but there will also be more muted 2-litre diesels for less performance-mad drivers.
Neat touches such as lights along both sides of the load bay, optional surround lighting, load bed dividers and a tailgate equipped with clamp fittings and a ruler suggest Ford engineers have invested a great deal of attention to detail in developing the new model.
Raptor versions can be ordered now in 288hp V6 form, with the 2-litre option due next summer.
Drivers who prefer a VW badge on the front of their pickup will also benefit from the Ranger re-design, as it underpins the new Amarok, which will focus on the upper end of the market without the more utilitarian options of its cousin.
Details remain fairly thin, but Volkswagen has confirmed five engines – three diesels from 147hp to 247hp, including a 3-litre six-pot, and a 298hp, 2.3-litre petrol four-cylinder, although not necessarily for all markets.
There will also be a full-time four-wheel drive system, as installed in selected versions of the previous Amarok, alongside selectable two-/four-wheel drive drivetrains.
The Ultimate Guide also reveals that Chinese van manufacturer Maxus has entered the market through its Ireland-based importer Harris Group, with the sector’s first electric-powered pickup.
It comes in rear-wheel drive form only and towing capacity is limited to 1,500kg, but it packs a 150kW electric motor powered by an 88.5kWh battery, giving a 220-mile range according to the WLTP measurement as well as low running costs.
Charging time is put at 45 minutes for a 20% to 80% boost, and despite the extra heft – the Maxus T90EV weighs 2.3t – it still offers a 1t payload. The order book is open and dealers expect first deliveries in December.
In the Isuzu D-Max range, the extended and double-cab versions of the Business Utility models are now available with the six-speed auto previously reserved for the higher-spec All-Purpose and Adventure variants.
Also, the Arctic Trucks AT35, fettled with upgrades to suspension, wheels and tyres, bodywork and cab interior, has made a return to the line with both manual and auto transmissions on offer.
The Toyota Hilux line-up continues much as before, except for the addition of the 204hp GR Sport 2.8 that celebrates Toyota’s Gazoo Racing team exploits, which include a highly-modified Hilux competing in the Dakar rally.
Suspension upgrades featuring new front springs and monotube dampers are said to deliver increased control, responsiveness and grip feel.
There is also an automatic limited-slip rear differential and active traction control, with rally-themed seats and colours rounding off the changes.
Pickup users who like their vehicles big and brash can also turn to the US-built RAM, whose European importer now has some 10 dealers over here.
With a limited-slip or lockable rear diff and high/low transfer box for the eight-speed transmission, plus a 1.71m long cargo bed, 1,860kg payload and 3,500kg towing capacity, the vehicle can do the business.
But its real appeal lies under the hood, where a 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine lurks, ready to unleash its 395hp with a burbling soundtrack to match.
There is a conversion available to use cheaper LPG, and also a mild hybrid variant designed to improve fuel consumption, as well as a 305hp 3-litre V6 petrol and 260hp 3-litre V6 diesel; but for obvious reasons, dealers such as Unity Automotive at Oxford have only V8 variants in their stock lists.
Elsewhere, Fiat’s commercial vehicles division has removed the dropside load bed version of the Doblo van from sale – but West Yorkshire-based Samson Engineering has an alternative in its Yomper 4×4 range.
Based on thoroughly refurbished, revamped and uprated examples of Suzuki’s Jimny, the Yomper can be had in original short-wheelbase and extended long-wheelbase forms with a ute-like dropside body, a fixed-side body with tailgate, or an integrated load bay in the style of a pickup.