Power, Price and Performance in a Midsized Truck
It’s been almost seven years since Ford discontinued the Ranger small pickup and decided to concentrate on the full-sized F-series, the best-selling pickup in the US going on 40 years. Now Ford is back in the midsized truck market with the 2019 Ford Ranger.
If the new Ranger looks familiar, it’s because it’s based on Ford’s Australian Ranger that has been sold worldwide for eleven years. But this is not a warmed-over design for the U.S. market. The new Ranger is completely redesigned inside for the demands of American truck owners. While in the rest of the world, the Ranger is a rough and tumble work truck, in the U.S. Ford adds “refinement” for those who will choose the Ranger as their daily driver vehicle. Americans are truck crazy, and Ford is aiming to scratch that itch with a city truck that can also carry whatever is required.
A midsized pickup with full-sized capabilities
The U.S. Ranger is still a body-on-frame design, but with a stronger boxed frame specific to the American needs. It’s powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that is the only powerplant available for the Ranger and is mated to a 10-speed automatic shared with the F-150. This powertrain combination is superb with the torquey powerplant belting out 250 horses and 310 pounds-feet of torque. The 10-speed transmission is seamless and deft at keeping the engine in its peak torque band so it’s always ready to perform when called upon. It’s some of the best transmission programming that we have seen, which allows it to always find the right gear for every driving situation.
The Ranger is EPA-rated at 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined in 2X4 form and 20/24/22 mpg with four-wheel drive. Despite its two-ton weight, our 2X4 tester returned 26 mpg, matching the EPA highway rating. Stop/start comes standard and is reasonably smooth on restart.
The Ranger can haul what you need with steel bumpers front and rear that are directly mounted to the frame with solid tow hooks, and with a ground clearance of between 8.4 for 2X4 and 8.9 inches 4X4 models, it’s ready for the wilderness if called. The Ranger has a max towing capacity of 7,500 pounds regardless of configuration and can haul 1860 pounds in its bed.
While classed a midsized truck, it still tips the scales at between 4.145 and 4.441 pounds. The Ranger has a stout suspension of coil springs in front and elliptical springs in the back on either 17- or 18-inch wheels. All-wheel disc brakes handle the stopping in a straight line with no drama. Optional off-road electronic assistants control the ABS to maintain stability and speed for off-road downhill adventures. As with its big brother F-series, the Ranger gets a terrain management system that adjusts ABS and stability control, as well as traction control, and throttle and transmission mapping settings for optimal control.
A body and trim for every need
The Ranger comes in two different body and bed lengths depending on preferences. The SuperCab body is a two-door cab with rear “suicide” half doors that open for access to two rear seats that are barely capable of seating any human being. The good thing is that the seat bottoms are removable for hauling a decent amount of cargo. The rear also has two USB ports and a 110v power outlet. The SuperCrew cab adds more space in the back with full-sized rear doors and is comfortable for most under six-foot individuals. What the SuperCab loses in back seat room it gains with a six-foot bed, with the SuperCrew getting a five-foot bed.
After deciding between 2X4 or 4X4 and SuperCab or SuperCrew, then choose between three trim levels, the base XL with rubber floor mats, the mid-range XLT with car-like appointments, and the top of the line fully equipped Lariat series that includes leather seating and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Of course, there is a range of cherries on top of all of these trims with Off-Road, Chrome, and Sport appearance packages.
An interior that shows its roots
In the cabin, the global heritage of the new Ranger is obvious. The dashboard looks like an Escort or Fusion rather than an F-150, with an array of odd-shaped tiny buttons, not the best to push with work gloves on. It’s best getting familiar with the controls with the truck in park. Once you have distinguished between the identically shaped radio volume control and the 12v sockets and where the tiny HVAC buttons are, then you are ready to go.
Despite the dated cabin ergonomics, the Ranger does have quite a bit of state-of-the-art tech. The XLT and Lariat trim include Ford’s SYNC3 multi-media system that consists of an 8.0-inch touch screen, voice-recognition control, WI-FI hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto and the ability to start and lock/unlock the truck remotely.
The Ranger is also on the leading edge of semi-autonomous driver assist technology with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 standard on the XLT and Lariat. This driver assist package includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning and dynamic braking control as well as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The list goes on with auto-high beams, front and rear radar sensing and a backup camera. Both these technology packages are optionally available on the base XL model.
The front seats in the Ranger are very comfortable with full bottom seat cushions with the XL and XLT getting cloth and the Lariat getting leather-trimmed buckets. There were no complaints about these seats even on several long road trips.
Inside the cabin, the body on frame Ranger handles reasonably well. Its solid bank-vault interior creates a super quiet silent cabin. Power is instant and full of torque with the 10-speed transmission smooth with instant and quick shifts. Put your foot down heavy on the go pedal, and you are very quickly looking at +100 numbers in the analog/digital speedometer. The only complaint is that while it handles well, it is still sprung like a truck, so with nothing in the bed or on the trailer hitch, the Ranger is bouncy at most speeds.
The right size with the right price
Pricing on the 2019 Ranger starts at $24K for the XL SuperCab 2X4, to well over $40K for a 4×4 Lariat SuperCrew. Our test Ranger was a middle of the line XLT 2X4 with an MSRP of $33K.
While the 2019 Ranger is today’s “midsized” truck, during testing we found that it’s the same size as an early 2000 F-150, and made the much beloved Ranger of that period look diminutive. The ’19 Ranger was quite the hit at the local home improvement store’s parking lot. It got tons of admiring looks and questions from the local contractor crowd. The 2019 Ford Ranger is just what those guys are looking for to replace their 10-15-year-old Rangers and F-150s.
Ford knows its truck customers and has a winner on its hands that will give the competition like the GM Colorado/Canyon and Toyota Tacoma something to think about at night. Even though the truck is just getting to dealers, Ford says that orders are causing them to schedule extra production shifts or meet demand.
If you are looking for a midsized, value-priced pickup, then you must check out the Ranger.
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