JEREMY CLARKSON has often sung the praises of various Land Rover models, and especially the Range Rover. He’s described the luxury 4×4 as “one of the best cars full stop” and “an island of brilliance in a sea of also-rans“. The writer and Grand Tour host has put his money where his motor mouth is, too. Twice.
And as Clarkson is now properly taking to life as a farmer, he’s often put his big Rangies to work on his land.
But, he points out in today’s Sunday Times Magazine, the Range Rover is not the most common workhorse for rural life. Many people these days don’t even use a Land Rover Defender day-to-day. Instead, he says, “my vet, her boss, my shepherdess, my tractor driver, his brother and the guys mending the Victorian water supply all have pick-ups.”
They’ve never been for him, though. “I’ve always thought pick-ups were a bit Richard Hammond — for the sort of Donald Trump enthusiast who flies a Confederate flag above his house, even though he lives in Basildon.”
But then Clarkson was sent a Ford Ranger Raptor by mistake.*
And — spoiler alert — Clarkson ended up being mightily impressed with the Ranger Raptor as a farmyard workhorse. From hauling heavy hay bales to setting up a sheep-handling system in a far-away field, Clarkson claims he needed the pick-up for every single one of these things.
“I do not know how I managed without it,” he admitted. “It’s a bit like trying a knife and fork for the first time and then having to go back to chopsticks. That’s fine some of the time, but not when you are faced with a lychee or a fried egg or a lamb chop.”
Even though the Ranger Raptor is a rugged off-roader, Clarkson reckoned the Ford fared relatively well on the public road, too. He says the ride quality was “especially good” (likely helped by the trick rally suspension that made the Raptor such a hoot off-road when we drove it in July 2019, though he doesn’t mention this in his review), and liked the extensive array of equipment and features fitted to the range-topping Ranger.
“I do not know how I managed without it”
That’s not to say the critic enjoyed everything about the Raptor, of course. In fact, in the three-star review he says he hated having to fit the load cover by hand, arguing “the Raptor is so high off the ground I simply couldn’t reach to pull it shut” … And he’s someone who is “allergic” to manual labour.
Clarkson goes on to say the side steps are only there to “allow short-arses into the cabin”, and it’s quite difficult for taller people to get in and out without honking the horn.
His biggest criticism, however, was with the Ford Ranger Raptor’s price: “If I were ever to buy a proper working vehicle, I’d baulk at the £47,874 price tag.”
It means that the Ranger Raptor is for “townies who want to look like they’re Kate Humble”, he reckons, much like the all-new Land Rover Defender due next year.
But he’s sold on the idea of a workhorse pick-up, and that’s why he’d go for a bog-standard Ranger, which you can get for as little as £22,914, or one of the many alternatives from Fiat, Nissan, Mercedes, Isuzu and more.
“Not Land Rover, though. It has simply abandoned the market it created, and I think that’s a bit mad.”
*Actually, the car he was meant to be testing had been crashed by someone else.