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Ford Ranger V VW Amarok

By Maxine Ashford | August 11, 2023

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The Ford Ranger Vs VW Amarok - considering pricing, efficiency, practicality and performance, which one packs the mightiest punch?

Ford Ranger V VW Amarok

Bring on the winter weather (or summer nowadays) with wet and blustery driving conditions and the good old pick-up truck seems to be the perfect go-to vehicle to combat the issue.

Admittedly a number of big hitters in the sector have stopped producing models, but there is still a wealth of choice out there with budget versions to fully beefed-up models boasting some outrageous styling cues.

There are four-door double cabs, two-door single ones, along with a choice of payload capabilities plus two or four-wheel drive.

Initially designed to be workhorses that spent most days on building sites or in demanding terrain, the pick-up has become popular with families looking for an alternative to an SUV. 

With that in mind, we are investigating two popular models in the segment, the Ford Ranger and the VW Amarok. Both vehicles tested featured double cabs, but we are looking at the pricing, efficiency, practicality and performance to see which one packs the mightiest punch.

Price and Performance

The Ford Ranger pick-up starts from a very attractive £28,275 (excluding VAT) for the single cab version, but we decided to venture to the higher end of the scale where the mighty Ranger Raptor models are found. These start from £46,300 (excl. VAT), but we went a step further and tested the range-topping Raptor Special Edition which sees the price rise to £54,940 (including VAT). So, as I said, a model for all budgets.

Our Ranger really looked the business and even featured racing stripes which is something you wouldn’t normally associate with a pick-up. There is lots of Raptor badging, plus a black grille, strengthened alloy side steps, a black sports bar, widened wheel arches, LED headlights with black surrounds, a roller shutter cover and black 17-inch wheels with massive 33-inch tyres. It certainly has a strong road presence.

However, rather surprisingly beneath the bonnet of the Ranger Raptor Special Edition (SE) is the standard Ranger 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbo-diesel engine delivering 213PS and 500Nm of torque. It can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 9.0 seconds and has a top speed of 112mph.

The acceleration through the 10-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive and there are ultra-large steering wheel mounted paddles for added driver engagement. This version is 15cm wider than the standard Ranger, so it does feel over-sized on narrow country lanes, but the elevated driving position offers a great view across the hedgerows. It can eat up motorway miles for fun and, with fairly light steering, is easy to manoeuvre in busier town centres too.

So, on to the striking new 2023 VW Amarok which is priced from £33,000 (excluding VAT) for the entry-level Life model. We moved up the scale a couple of notches and tested the Amarok PanAmericana version with an on-the-road price of £53,931 (inclusive of VAT).

This model certainly turns heads with LED headlamps, a black styling bar, silver roof rails, side steps, tinted rear windows, PanAmericana badging and transfers, plus 18-inch Amadora alloy wheels.

Powering the Amarok is a 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine delivering 240PS and 600Nm of torque. This results in a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

Similarly to the Ford, the Amarok features a slick 10-speed automatic gearbox, although there are no paddles to change gears manually. You can use the chunky gear stick to accomplish this though and that works well enough.

We covered several hundred miles during our week with the Amarok and it coped with everything we threw at it. It was nicely balanced on twisting country roads, agile in town centres and a confident motorway cruiser. We had a 90-mile run (mainly motorway) in some of the worst driving conditions I have encountered with torrential rain making visibility very limited. But thanks to its high stance, the issue with road spray was not so bad in the pick-up (for which I was most grateful).

Price-wise, there is very little to separate these two models. But for me the extra power the VW offers made a real difference. That said, the Raptor is now available with a 3.0-litre unit too, so it could come down to badge preference when choosing.

Practicality

These days, pick-ups have to cover all bases in that they need to be capable when put to work, but also have all the creature comforts we demand too. With that in mind, the Ranger Raptor SE boasts neatly upholstered sports seats that are powered and can be heated.

There is Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch screen offering access to the likes of the navigation set-up along with full smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and there is even a wi-fi hotspot to connect devices too.

Although we stayed firmly on the Tarmac during this test (as would many owners), the Ranger Raptor SE is very capable off-road with all the necessary 4WD settings called 2H, 4H and 4LOCK to help cope with the roughest terrain.

Comfort levels within the cabin are excellent and there is bundles of space in the back of the cab. Storage options are comprehensively catered for too with a glovebox, deep door bins, a split-level central cubby box, front and rear cup holders, trays and seat back pockets.

Another feature worth mentioning on this test vehicle is the aerodynamic hoop over the load bed with a light for any night-time working. And the vehicle has a towing limit of 2.5 tonnes.

But there is one slight issue and that’s the payload which is just 620kg, which is less than the standard Ranger’s one-tonne limit. And that has financial repercussions because it fails to qualify as a commercial vehicle, so business owners will not be able to claim back the VAT. 

By comparison, the VW Amarok is also feature-rich with powered front seats that can be heated against the winter chill. On-board tech includes a 12-inch navigation touchscreen with access to a Harman Kardon premium sound system, DAB radio, smartphone connectivity plus lots more besides. And all the vital driving data is displayed on a clear 12-inch digital cockpit.

There are all the drive modes you would expect in a pick-up such as Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud/Ruts plus Deep Snow/Sand and like the Ranger Raptor there are off-road settings called 2H, 4A, 4H and 4L.

Comfort levels, front and back, are of a high standard and there are a number of practical storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin. These include a locking glovebox, door bins, trays, a sunglasses compartment, seat back pocket, plus front and rear cup holders. The front ones are quite badly positioned – they are too far back next to the central cubby box. This makes it quite awkward to reach a coffee cup on the move without any spillage.

On a practical note though, the VW Amarok can carry a 1,054kg payload and tow a caravan or trailer weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, which is superior to that of the Ranger Raptor. 

Efficiency

Under WLTP testing, the Ford Ranger Raptor can deliver a combined 31.7mpg with carbon emissions between 201g/km and 204g/km. Although it fails to qualify for Benefit in Kind business tax relief, owners do pay the fixed LCV road tax fee of £320 which is good news. Otherwise it would be based on the somewhat high emissions figure.

The VW Amarok boasts combined fuel economy of 27.9mpg with carbon emissions from 265 to 270g/km. But one added feature to the Amarok is that it will qualify for Benefit in Kind tax relief for company owners.

Insurance-wise, both the Ford Ranger Raptor SE and the VW Amarok, as tested, sit in group 41.

So, which takes your fancy?

It’s difficult to choose which was our favourite between the Ford Ranger Raptor SE and the new 2023 VW Amarok. The Ford was very flamboyant in its design, but the engine was not so impressive as the VW. 

And due to its over-the-top design cues, the payload was less practical on the Ford which also meant it failed to qualify for VAT relief. However, there are other Ford Ranger models that do meet the required standards to qualify so that isn’t really an issue here.

Both vehicles drove superbly. Long gone are the days where driving a pick-up left you feeling shaken for days on end and, if they were put to the test, both could conquer the roughest and most demanding terrain.

So, maybe it will come down to the badge – do you prefer a Ford or a VW?

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