Ford's massive Ranger is hard to resist, if nothing else, for its novelty factor and sheer size
Ford Ranger hard to resist for its novelty factor, sheer size The Ford Ranger measures almost 5.4m long and 1.9m tall, with a 1,180-litre open cargo area. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN

In my 30 years as a car reviewer, I have never tested a truck. I have driven them, but never reviewed them.

But there is a first for everything.

Ford's massive Ranger - a twin-cab 4x4 utility - is hard to resist, if nothing else, for its novelty factor and sheer size.

Measuring nearly 5.4m in length, it is noticeably longer than a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-class. Add a height of almost 1.9m and you have a leviathan that will eclipse a Hummer H3.

And its wheelbase of 3.22m exceeds that of the S-class LWB (long wheelbase), although part of that is devoted to a 1,180-litre open cargo area, which makes the biggest sport utility vehicle (SUV) boot seem like a desk drawer.

Like all pick-up trucks, the Ranger is classified as a commercial vehicle here. But in many other places, it is a vehicle of choice among people with serious off-road ambitions, coupled with big cargo-lugging needs.

Ford agent Regent Motors says despite its 70kmh speed restriction (imposed on commercial vehicles), many business people are drawn to it, especially those in the construction sector.

The truck's six-speed automatic transmission comes with a transfer case to help it overcome tricky terrain, which requires low-range high-torque.

On tarmac, you can select two-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. With a towing weight of 3,500kg, the Ranger is just as muscular as the most powerful SUVs around.

Being a twin-cab, it fulfils its other duty as a passenger vehicle quite adequately. Space in the second row is generous. Well-placed side steps help you get in and out of the cabin with relative ease.

On board, you are immediately aware of your high seating position. Despite its dimensions, rear visibility is excellent - partly because of huge wing mirrors and also because of the car's reverse camera system. Front and rear beepers help you avoid running over the occasional roadster in the parking lot.

It is a surprisingly easy vehicle at the wheel. It steers like a car, with none of the endless twirling usually associated with trucks, but its turning circle is excessively wide.

It wears 17-inch wheels shod with high-profile tyres and its ride is firmer than expected. On many stretches, it jiggles as if it were wearing knobby off-road tyres. Many trucks here have a soft, floating ride quality.

Corners are dispatched with body roll, but that is to be expected. Even so, you would not describe the tall 4x4 as ungainly.

The Ranger is no sprinter. With 470Nm of torque from 1,500rpm, its 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel has enough shove to give the 1.92-tonne truck an energetic gait in city traffic.

But when competitive acceleration is called for, the Ford will trail behind most. Zero to 100kmh is a rather leisurely 10.4 seconds.

But zero to 70kmh - the limit on all non-expressways - is breezy enough. A warning chime helps you keep within the limit. If you do not want to put up with the chime, set the speed limit on the cruise control.

In terms of features, finishing and ambience, its cabin is almost comparable with what a mid-range SUV offers. And it is definitely more liveable than, say, a similarly priced Land Rover Defender.

So, if you want something with plenty of utility and presence as well as decent comfort, the new Ranger has no rival in its price segment.