NEARLY THE WAY WE LIKE IT: 2020 FORD RANGER XLT FX4
It was heart breaking news when Ford announced they won’t be bringing the global staunch off-road performing Ranger Raptor stateside. And while rumors may be flying that there could be a Ranger Tremor in the works, we’re going to be stuck with the XL, XLT and Lariat trim options for a while.
If we had to chose between the three, the XLT featured in the article is the kind of Ranger we wouldn’t mind having for ourselves. With all three trim options coming with a standard 270-horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, the Ranger has quite a spring in its step when it comes to laying down performance through its 10-speed automatic transmission. Being a go-getting turbo-booster, 6.5-seconds is pretty quick for something that can tow 7500lbs.
Seeing that this isn’t our first time with the Ranger since it launched in 2019, not much has changed between 2019 and 2020. Across all trim levels, three new paint colors get introduced with Iconic Silver, Rapid Red Metallic and Race Red – the Ranger also incorporates a new, modernized instrument cluster from the old Ford ways. The XLT is the one that receives the brute of the changes as it strolls into the New Year with upgraded standard dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, SYNC3 touch screen interface with the option to now add the Technology Package featuring Adaptive Cruise Control and front parking sensors.
Our last experience with the Ranger was an odd one – there’s a lot to like about this compact truck despite already being a few years late to the party. Our biggest let down in 2019 was the FX4 Off-Road package that incorporated off-road monotube shocks, off-road tires, an electronic-locking rear differential along with upgraded off-road technology that encompasses Trail Control and a Terrain Management System allowing the driver to select between Sand, Mud, Rock or Normal.
When we saw our Ranger come across our schedule, we were ecstatic to get another opportunity to get a different outlook considering it was in a different trim level. However, when it arrived carrying the FX4 decal stickers on the side, we knew we were in for some rather unpleasantness. One the road, the off-road system is acceptable. It doesn’t generate an uncomfortable setting within the cabin, but bumps will not go unnoticed. It’s once we leave the pavement for a little trail-side adventure that we start to find discourage to continue forward after barely driving a mile on what we would call a rather well-maintained off-road trail. The suspension is far too jarring with no give – the harshness of the ride caused us to fumble about hitting random buttons on the steering wheel or even engaging the indicators or wiper blades.
Once we were back onto black asphalt, we were able to set our minds at ease about how much we started to curse at the uncomforting of the suspension. Outside of its off-road crudeness, the Ranger is a pleasant truck to drive. It handles well through its electronic assisted steering – it provides a nicely weighted feel with easy controllability at any given speed. The transmission is subtle smooth giving any reconciliation that its even there. The interior was also more our style with a durable cloth material – while we wouldn’t necessarily choose cream, it was attractive – featuring the $2,450 302A package, the seats were heated and power adjustable and included remote start. The rear seats had comfortable lateral support with adequate legroom for passengers over six-feet tall.
Given that its price hits the low $40,000 range is still a sticker shock to us, but it’s the name of the truck game. The way we saw our Ranger XLT was nearly the way we would like to have liked truck outfitted. Although we would forgo the $1295 FX4 Off-Road Package to save on chiropractor fees and spring for the $1,090 Black Appearance Package even though we’ll lose out on the leather steering wheel, shift knob and power folding mirrors.
Model: 2020 FORD RANGER
Starting Price: $34,115
As Tested: $41,595
Engine: 2.3-LITER ECOBOOST TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 270-HORSEPOWER / 310 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 10-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE WITH TERRAIN SELECT MANAGEMENT AND ELECTRONIC LOCKING DIFFERENTIAL
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 20-CITY / 24-HWY / 22-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 17.4 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 330 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS