THE KEY selling point about Ford's latest Ranger pick-up is that it is what it says on the tin – a proper, full-size, no nonsense good ol' pick-up truck in the truest sense of the word.

It looks the part. It has a certain aura of invincibility about it. It has a whiff of a pair of dungarees about its nether regions and you certainly feel that wellies are de rigueur for driver and passengers.

That's what pick-up trucks are all about. But, and it's an important but for those wishing to save cash by slimming down their garage from two vehicles (ie, a workhorse and a 'go to Embra for dinner' type vehicle) to just one. Because, with a quick hose out (and you can with the more workmanlike models) you can go from dungarees to dinner jaiket in jig time.

Ford has recognised that the buyers of some of these vehicles have a bit of schizophrenia about them. They have a double personality and are expected to be all things to all men and expect their cars to be the same.

Normally when you try to achieve that, it never works and you end up pleasing no-one. However, the Ford Ranger get's a close as anyone does to being the complete dual-purpose vehicle.

And, the latest version tested is the most frugal yet, with 'efficiency' improved up to 17% supported by its start-stop technology, new final drive ratios and a really sweet auto gearbox

Flagship of the range is the Wildtrak model and it's no surprise that most people opt for this designation. That's where the dual-purpose comes in, because this spec' level gives you everything that you would want from a pretty standard upmarket saloon. It's also one of the reason why the Ranger is now the No 1 pick-up in the UK.

Last year, it also overtook its rivals to become Europe’s No 1 selling pickup, with 27,300 vehicles sold – and impressive year-over-year increase of 27%.

Its latest diesel line-up features 128bhp and 157bhp variants of Ford’s outstanding 2.2-litre TDCi engine, both marginally up on the outgoing model. But there's also the option of moving up to the powerful 196bhp, five-cylinder 3.2-litre TDCi unit.

While six-speed manual and automatic transmissions – don't be scared of the auto- box – are available, and customers can select four-wheel drive and two-wheel drive variants, the top-of-the-range Wildtrak models have all-wheels driven as standard.

The model tested was the more powerful of the 2.2-litre variants and, even at that, an early to mid-40s mpg is possible.

From the workhorse angle, the choices are the two-door single cab, a 'super cab' with additional rear-hinged doors accessing short-erse second-row seating, and the full-blown four-door double dab. Each style though has the ability to tote at least a little more than one tonne in its load box, all the way up to 1270kg in single cab form.

Another tick-box for farmers is its ability to tow 3.5 tonnes – all 4 x 4 versions are rated as such – which is an absolute must these days.

That load-lugging is assisted by an electronic transfer case which allows drivers in 4x4 models to shift on the fly from 4x2 to 4x4, but there's also low-range 4x4 gearing, with electronic locking rear differential, to cope with the tricky stuff.

That's the workaday stuff out of the way. It's inside the cab that the real dual-purpose nature comes into play and so there's a level of cabin refinement more akin to a premium saloon.

Ford’s voice-activated SYNC 2 connectivity system, with its eight-inch touchscreen outlines an array of driver assistance technologies.

It also has a whole host of add-ons, like 'lane keeping alert and aid', 'adaptive cruise control', front and rear park assist, rear view camera (very handy on a pick-up given the predisposition of farmers to adopt the 'stop when you hit something' method of driving), while the standard Electronic Stability Control system has both rollover mitigation and trailer sway control.

And it doesn't stop there. Other gizmos include hill launch control, plus hill descent control are useful in hilly terrain, while the adaptive load control adjusts the stability electronics to match vehicle loads.

Exclusive to Wildtrak is rectangular fog lamps, a 'sports' hoop, machined 18-inch alloys and bold graphics – and, take it from me, the new metallic 'Pride Orange' finish, certainly makes this stand out from the crowd. There's a rather nice blue colour too.

All Wildtrak's have leather seats and some fetching colour-coded stitching.

Prices start at £16,745 for the single cabs and range up to almost £26k for the Wildtrak, with a host of extras such as a hard top, which costs £2400, or a cover roll-top for the load area at £1380.