Return of the Ranger! Ford brings back its mid-size pickup truck.
By Christopher A. Randazzo
Eight years ago, Ford pulled the Ranger from the North American market – but kept building and selling them in other parts of the world. During the absence of the Ranger here at home, the midsize pickup truck market changed dramatically. Midsize pickups have grown in size, have seen an increase in technological features, and are much more capable than ever before. Today, the Ranger is back, bigger and better than ever. Recently I had an opportunity to spend some time with one and to see how this new Ranger stacks up in a market it once dominated.
Although this Ranger is all-new, the styling is not so much. The 2019 Ranger looks very similar to the one developed by Ford Australia back in 2015 for foreign markets. It’s available as either an extended cab (SuperCab) or the larger crew cab (SuperCrew). Smaller cabs get a 6-foot bed while the larger crew cab gets a 5-foot bed. In typical Ford fashion the Ranger is available in base XL, mid-level XLT and top-of-the-line Lariat trim levels.
Powering every new Ranger is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 270 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel drive is standard with four-wheel drive being available as an option. On top of that there is an FX4 Off-Road Package (available on all three trim levels) that includes off-road tires, upgraded shocks and suspension, an electronically locking rear axle, front tow hooks, underbody skid plates, a terrain management system, and Trail Control – a low-speed crawl control system.
The Ranger that I was in was Lightning Blue with the Lariat trim level as well as the FX4 Off-Road Package.
Entering and exiting the Ranger is easily done thanks to nearly perfect ride height. It’s not too big where you have to climb into it, yet it’s not small where you fall into it. The front seats are supportive and there is plenty of leg and headroom. The backseat also has plenty of headroom and legroom, and most adults will find the Ranger quite spacious.
The rest of the cabin is a mixed bag. All the controls are easy to find and use but all of the trim and dash is decked out in cheap plastic, making the Ranger look dull and uninspired. The 8-inch touchscreen is easy to use and uses Ford’s Sync 4 and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Take the Ranger for a spin and you’ll see that Ford got the powertrain right. The Ranger’s four feels plenty powerful, with the 10-speed swapping through ratios quickly and smoothly. Ford states the Ranger can hit 60 mph in under 7 seconds – and that feels about right. Steering, handling and braking all feel more than adequate in the Ranger. The ride does feel a little busy and choppy, but hey this is a truck, right?
When it comes to technology, the Ranger doesn’t fall short. The XLT, what Ford claims will be its volume-seller and the Lariat come with the latest driver-assistance features including lane-departure warning and assist, blind-spot monitors with trailer coverage, and automated emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control is optional on these two trim levels.
For those that are looking to the Ranger as a work truck, you’ll be happy to know that it’s capable of towing up to 7,500 pounds when fitted with the optional trailer tow package – quite an increase from previous Rangers we have had.
Pricing for the new Ranger starts at $24,300, with my fully loaded Lariat FX4 topping out at just under $45,000.
Since Ford left the midsize market, Toyota and GM filled the void left by the Ranger. Toyota with its Tacoma has been the sales leader with the Colorado/Canyon GM twins right on the Tacoma’s heels. Will Ford change that? Most likely, but by how much is the real question.
By The Numbers:
2019 Ford Ranger Supercrew 4×4 Lariat
Base Price: $38,395.00
Price as Tested: $44,960.00
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost
Transmission: 10 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 270 hp
Torque: 310 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 20 city / 24 highway mpg
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