Remember the Ford Ranger? If your answer is “no,” don’t be ashamed, as the Ranger was taken out of production in 2011. Why? In a then dwindling compact truck market, competition from the likes of the Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado was certainly a factor; but by 2011, the Ranger was almost as large as the bread and butter F-150; and Ford incorrectly bet the then V6 F-150 would absorb fans of the Ranger. So here we are, and the all-new 2019 Ranger should be successful for two important reasons: 1) It’s extremely well-executed, and 2) Not everyone wants to shell out big money for the more expensive larger pickup trucks like the F-150.
My test Ranger, a SuperCrew 4×4 with a five-foot box, carried an MSRP of $34,115 (base Rangers start at $25,395). Significant options include, among other unlisted options, the $995 XLT Series Equipment Group, $795 Technology Package (Adaptive Cruise Control, eight speaker SYNC/SIRIUS XM audio package), and $1,295 FX4 Off-Road Package with electronic locking differential. The bottom line was $40,605.
With the new Ranger, Ford clearly put design as a major priority. This truck is super attractive, with a low-slung front end that uses aggressive wheel arches and deeply sculpted door panels as the design energy sweeps up at the C pillar before finishing with a high-walled five-foot cargo box. At first glance, it looks a lot like the larger F-150. It’s a very tasteful design, which should bode well for sales numbers in a now more competitive compact truck market.
On the road, Ranger’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder outputs 270 horsepower and a healthy 310 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is impressive, as is Ranger’s 7,500-pound towing capacity (when properly equipped) and 1,860-pound payload capacity. My tester was “properly equipped” for max towing, which in my experience testing trucks usually means the ride quality is stiff and sometimes punishing. Not so with Ranger, which rides as smoothly as the Platinum Edition Ford Expedition. No bounce or jounce over road berms or railroad tracks, and Ranger is relatively quiet. Ford should add soundproofing to the headliner however, as the sound of raindrops hitting the metal roof is amplified by the dearth of roof soundproofing.
Ranger’s interior also gets the job done. An available 8” center touch screen, available dual LCD instrument cluster and available Bang & Olufsen premium audio are upscale features. Legroom and headroom are ample — capable of seating five six-footers with ease.
The Ford Ranger is back, and just in the nick of time. If gasoline prices continue to rise, consumers seeking pickup truck utility and versatility will surely give the more fuel-efficient compact pickup segment a closer look.
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