Sometimes you really have to question the motivation of the designer and entire company when cars hit the road that clearly have no long term design value. It’s easy to do with a ute. Cab, tray, presto. What do workers care? But they do, and Ford have impressed.

Designed from the ground up, this is a vehicle any man would be pleased to have parked out the front. It’s square look and tall stance give it a really dominating feeling when you walk up to it.

2012 Ford Ranger

I drove the 3.2l diesel XLT model – when you get behind the wheel and hear and feel the power you’re reminded this is a man’s man’s vehicle. The dual cab model has plenty of rear seat space for those tradies carrying around their workmates, or for the tradie with a distinct work-life balance in need of a family sized ride.

Having driven the Ranger during a week of pouring rain the power of the 3.2l diesel was evident at almost every set of lights. The traction control was required multiple times and at various times around the place I felt like I was driving a 2011 Formula 1 car without any traction control in a videogame. You know the feeling – foot down and it steps right out. Oversteer on slow corners and understeer on faster turns, the wet did not make this a joy to drive.

That said, I had no tools or gear in the back, so perhaps with that in mind you’ll find this to be exactly what you need. Load up the tray and the balance is likely to even out properly. After all, Ford developed it to be fully loaded.

2012 Ford Ranger

Inside you’re presented with a spacious cabin with a real car look to it, a full feature instrument panel and the same entertainment/LCD system as the Ford Focus Titanium without the automatic parking. Full bluetooth connectivity including the use of the term ‘bonding’ instead of pairing throughout – hmmm, isn’t that a bit metrosexual for a ute? Bluetooth connection was a breeze. Simply search for the car in your phone, the in-car entertainment system will give you a number to enter on your phone and you’re done.

Bluetooth audio connectivity works well through the AUX function, including full track information displayed on screen when playing music from your iPhone or iPod. Using your phone’s music player streamed via Bluetooth is one of the great un-used features of Bluetooth, once you’ve started it you realise how simple it really is.

Don’t be fooled by anyone who tells you this has a ‘car-like’ feel to it on the road. It doesn’t. Inside it certainly feels more car-like than ute, pickups, and cab-chassis vehicles of old. But when it comes to handling this is a controllable beast. Sure it has power, sure down narrow lanes you feel like you might scrape both mirrors off let alone scrape the paint, but after a few days behind the wheel you really do learn to live with its size because it’s that size that gives you the higher viewing position, good interior space and it’s the refined handling that means you don’t feel like you’re in a tired old work vehicle.

The Cab-Chassis version of the XL starts at just over $38,000, while the Dual-Cab ‘Pickup’ variant I drove will set you back $53,390.

Worth holding out to look at the ‘Wildtrak’ which hits Australia in the next few months and will feature reversing camera and sat-nav starting at $57,390.

2012 Ford Ranger

For me, while the car drives well, is spacious and has all the power you will need, I think the success of the Ranger in this category will be down to the top notch design which cuts no corners, literally. Cars need to look a bit boxy to ensure they don’t age fast and the Ranger ticks all the boxes when it comes to design.

Web: Ford