For over 30 years, the Ford Ranger has been one of the most iconic American trucks since it first debut in the early eighties. It was this truck that lead to several of Ford’s successes. So when Ford announced 8 years ago that production was coming to an end, it was a blustery sad day indeed. But the truth is, while the Ranger was no longer available in the US market, it continued to live a long, healthy life in other parts of the world. Therefore, when the mid-size truck market started to take off again in 2016, Ford decided it was time to bring back its trusty Ranger name plate to the US region – only thing is, is it really new?
Even though the Ranger is technically new to us, it has been continuing its production over the last decade and this latest version denoted as a 2019 model year has been in fact developed for the last few years in other parts of the world such as Austria. Luckily for Ford, the styling of the Ranger looks modern and fresh for our market with a muscular stance and brawny appearance. Pricing starts at $24,300 in two-wheel drive form with an extend cab and standard a pre-collision assist safety system. Three trims are available with the entry-level XL, XLT and range-topping Lariat as featured in this article starting at $32,390 – before adding four-wheel drive.
When it comes to performance, there is only one option. Power stems from a 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine – same engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost – only this one has been re-engineered to produce 270-horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. With power transferring through a 10-speed automatic, the Ranger is one smooth operator when it comes to laying down authority. As our foot found itself pressed firmly into the accelerator, it takes the Ranger only six and half seconds to achieve 60 mph.
Adding four-wheel drive was as easy as accepting the $4000 additional cost; however, it reduces the Rangers payload from 1770lbs to 1560lbs, but in hindsight towing stays the same for both 2WD and 4WD versions at 7500lbs, maximum. To give that extra boost in four-wheel drive assist, our Ranger featured the $1295 FX4 Off-Road Package incorporating an off-road tuned suspension, electronic-locking rear differential, skid plates, and a selectable terrain management system with trail control. Providing different drive modes between Sand, Mud, and Rocks, the four-wheel drive system can deviate its torque and traction depending on the situation at hand to help guide one out of a sticky situation. The unfortunate part lies behind the off-road tuned suspension, its ultra-stiff setup may be kosher for off-road abuse, but when it comes to comfort, it’s anything but. On road, the ride is manageable with some rattles here and random bounces there – off-road on the other hand is brutally uncomfortable resorting to speeds under 5 mph just to save ourselves from spinal displacement.
Into daily life of commuting, the Ranger handles the city life well with decent road mannerisms. Steering is light through the power assist functionality and maneuvers around corners like easily making parking and tight situations simple to overcome. Fuel economy left us a little baffled as during our 200 mile highway jaunt, we averaged 19.5 mpg and a total of 19.3 mpg combined over the EPA rated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
With our Ranger being at the top-end of the spectrum, it was elevated with a premium-esk style offering LED lighting all-around. Clicking nearly every option available, our Ranger incorporated the $895 Sport Appearance Package with 17-inch black wheels, black grille, and various other black additions that can’t be spotted on our Shadow Black tester.
Despite the Lariat featuring semi-power adjustable seats with partial manual adjustments, the Medium Stone leather delivered an uplifting superior presence to the interior. The display of mix metals and accent plastics broke up the traditional black on black appearance of the dash and present an upscale character. The unfortunate part is, styling is a result of Fords design scheme of 5 years ago which gives a more dated appearance compared to recent product development from other brands.
Over the course of nearly 500 miles, the Ranger proved to be a comfortable suiter for all passengers. Thanks to our SuperCrew four-dour cab, rear passengers felt plenty of comfort with decent leg-room and content seating position. There is no shortage of technology as the Lariat featured an 8-inch touch screen display with Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, all the latest accident preventive safety hardware, as well as blind- spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic detection.
With our tester coming in just over $44,250, it does fall fairly in line with its competition with their premium and off-road upgradables. And even though it may already be a few years older in other markets, the Ranger is technically new to us, and feels just as modern and renowned as its competitors.
Model: 2019 FORD RANGER (XL – 2WD – SUPERCAB)
Starting Price: $24,300
As Tested: $42,850 ($38,565 LARIAT – 4X4 – SUPERCREW) (FX4 OFF-ROAD PACKAGE – SPORT APPEARANCE PACKAGE – UTILITY BED PACKAGE)
Engine: 2.3-LITER TURBOCHARGED ECOBOOST FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 270-HORSEPOWER / 310 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 10-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 21-CITY / 26-HWY
(AS TESTED: 19.3 MPG COMBINED)
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS