Ford rocked the world last year by bringing back its popular Ranger midsize pickup. The new Ranger was a far cry from the last generation, which ended in 2011. The old Ranger was a pretty typical small truck, but the new Ranger is a technology powerhouse.
It starts with the engine. Instead of a choice between a four-cylinder and a V6, Ford opted for just one engine and transmission combination. The Ranger is powered by a 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, it pulls like the other brands' V6 engines. Part of that performance is due to the standard 10-speed automatic transmission. If you like pulling your own gears, too bad, but the 10-speed is a smooth-shifting, fast gearbox that allows the Ecoboost engine to always be in its sweet spot.
The Ranger is available with rear-wheel-drive, but most sales around Oregon will be four-wheel-drive. There are two packages available. The basic 4X4 setup with the Ranger offers rear-drive, high-range 4WD, and low-range 4WD. If you buy the FX4 off-road package, you also get a higher and softer off-road suspension and skid plates, plus some great tech. The FX4 package includes terrain management and Ford's Trail Control. This works like cruise control for off-road driving. You can set a speed up to 20 MPH in 4HI or up to 5 MPH in 4LO and the Ranger will climb up and down hills or over obstacles.
Inside, the Ranger offers a quality, comfortable cabin. The rear seat on the four-door SuperCrew cab is suitable only for children, and the SuperCab extended cabin is smaller yet, but you can remove the rear seats and turn that into a lockable storage area. With the SuperCab you also get a 6-foot bed, as opposed to a 5-foot bed with the SuperCrew cabin.
For utility, any Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds if you get the towing package. If you buy a Ranger, be smart and spend that money. You never know when you'll need it, and it dramatically increases resale value. The Ranger can also carry up to 1,860 pounds of payload, depending on the specific model you get.
On the road, I have to say I prefer the 2WD version of the Ranger. The basic suspension is better suited for road driving. The standard 4WD suspension is also good for road driving, or for light off-road use. The top FX4 package looks great and raises the Ranger up a bit, but it's also a softer suspension, so the truck's body moves more under braking and turning. Unless you plan to really use the 4WD system to go off-road on difficult terrain, the FX4 option is probably overkill. The more basic trucks are also less expensive.
One last thing to mention is the available technology package. This gets you adaptive cruise control and a forward collision sensing system as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio and GPS navigation in an 8-inch screen. The Ranger XLT comes with a rear-view camera, blind spot monitoring, and lane keeping with curve control as standard equipment, and the ability to get the truck its own 4G data plan and create a wi-fi spot in the cab.
The bottom line is that if you're looking for a truck that's a little smaller and better-handling than a full-size, you will like the Ford Ranger. You can try all the options at your Ford dealer, and pick the truck that best meets your needs.
2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4X4
Base price: $34,635
Price as tested: $42,805
Type: Midsize pickup truck
Engine: 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder (270 hp, 310 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 20/24
Overall length: 210.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,441 pounds
Final assembly: Wayne, Michigan
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