Arguably, as traditional “half-ton” pickups get ever larger and more capable, the business case for midsize trucks becomes more and more viable. After all, not everyone needs enough towing capacity to rip a house off its foundation or the ability to haul a veritable mountain of building material. That’s what the venerable Ford F-150 is for.
Appealing to lifestyle-oriented motorists, folks that own a couple snowmobiles, haul kayaks on the weekend, or need a pickup for moving furniture instead of general contractors or those employed in the agricultural industry, midsize pickups are gaining traction and growing sales. In fact, the segment in America has gotten so hot Ford could no longer sit idly on the sidelines with no skin in the game.
One of the freshest entrants in this bourgeoning vehicle segment is the Ranger. This respected nameplate is back in North America after the antiquated previous generation was honorably discharged from Ford’s lineup after the 2012 model year. Fortunately, the Blue Oval kept developing this truck in global markets during its absence on our continent, and that international model served as the basis for the latest Ranger offered in America.
Appealing to everyday pickup users, the Ranger has been optimized for the heart of the retail truck market. Ford has no intention of selling them to commercial users or other folks that want a true bare-bones work truck, for the time being at least. The Ranger is only offered with SuperCab and SuperCrew bodies, the former coming with a six-foot bed, the latter with a five-foot-long cargo box. Also, just three trim levels will be offered: XL, XLT, and Lariat, though a variety of options packages are available so there’s no issue gussying one up to your liking.
The new Ranger is built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. Its standard 10-speed automatic transmission ought to be screwed together in Livonia, Michigan, while this truck’s EcoBoost engine should be sourced from Cleveland, Ohio.
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Pros/ Superb drivetrain performance, Comfortable interior, Excellent capability, Fuel efficiency
Cons/ No longer a compact truck, Awkward climate controls, Interior could be nicer, Mushy brake pedal
Bottom Line/ The Ford Ranger is a capable truck that will find many buyers thanks to its excellent powertrain and capability.
Table of contents
Ford Ranger Specs
Engine: 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder with automatic stop-start
Torque: 310 pound-feet
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Rear- or four-wheel drive
Seating Capacity: Up to five
Cargo Box: Six-feet long (SuperCab), five-feet long (SuperCrew)
*Maximum Towing: 7,500 pounds
*Maximum Payload: 1,860 pounds
*When properly equipped
Ford Ranger Fuel Economy
With its efficient four-cylinder engine and cutting-edge, standard 10-speed automatic transmission, the Ford Ranger delivers surprising fuel economy. With two-wheel drive, it stickers at 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 26 on the highway. Combined, it should average 23 mpg.
Four-wheel-drive models are slightly less efficient, though still quite impressive. They’re estimated to deliver 20, 24 and 22 mpg, respectively. According to Ford, these figures make Ranger the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered midsize truck in America, though certain diesel-powered full-size pickups are even more economical.
A Ford F-150 with the available Power Stroke compression-ignition engine, for instance, can deliver up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway, proving that smaller isn’t always more efficient.
Ford Ranger Safety Rating
The Ranger has not yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but given current industry trends and the strong performance of Ford’s other truck models, it’s likely to do extremely well in a wide array of crash tests.
For reference, a Ranger was tested by the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) back in 2012. Even though in its trip to America many of this truck’s key components were redesigned, things like the frame and bumpers, the older rig earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, performing well in frontal, side-impact, pole and other collision tests.
Ford Ranger Warranty Information (same for F-150)
Bumper-to-Bumper: 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain: 5 years/60,000 miles
Safety Restraints: 5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion (Perforation): 5 years/unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 years/60,000 miles
Ford Ranger Features
Providing a rugged foundation, the latest Ford Ranger is built on a fully boxed frame made of high-strength steel. This ferrous backbone provides tremendous rigidity, safety and, yes, even on-road refinement, to say nothing of the towing and hauling figures it also enables.
Ensuring its toughness, the Ranger has endured the same strenuous durability testing as Ford’s larger F-150. That means it’s been pummeled in the Australian Outback, baked in the deserts of Arizona and mercilessly battered in engineering torture chambers at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, and elsewhere around the world.
This midsize truck is offered in just three trim levels: base XL, midrange XLT, and top-tier Lariat. This is somewhat unusual for Ford since they offer the F-150 in no fewer than seven variants.
Further limiting choice, the Ranger is available in just two flavors, in keeping with the automaker’s targeting of lifestyle customers instead of construction workers with this product. You can get an extended, SuperCab body with a six-foot bed or a larger SuperCrew cab with a five-foot box. A regular-cab variant is not offered at any price. If you’re one of the few people that needs this configuration, you’re going to have to get an F-150. Naturally, rear- or four-wheel drive is offered.
On the technology front, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is standard equipment in every version of the Ford Ranger. Stepping up from a base version, XLT and Lariat models come with a reverse-sensing system, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and even a blind-spot monitoring system that works while trailering, all at no extra charge. The automaker’s Sync 3 infotainment system with navigation and Waze integration, plus support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is available, ditto for adaptive cruise control and in-vehicle Wi-Fi that supports up to 10 devices.
Moving inward, a variety of black and gray interior materials are offered. Base XL models can be had with two types of cloth on the seats or even easy-to-clean if not particularly luxurious vinyl. Range-topping Lariat models feature either black or gray leather.
Eight different exterior colors are offered, from basic black to bright red to a shimmering white. But the brightest two hues are unquestionably Lightning Blue and Saber, a deep, saturated orange. Please note, there is a modest upcharge for some of these paint colors.
For added flair, XL-trim Rangers can be equipped with a special Chrome Appearance Package, a $365 upcharge in addition to the $1,135 101A Package. The former includes goodies like chrome-clad bumpers both front and rear, fog lamps, tow hooks and body-color moldings on the wheel wells. The latter – and much pricier – options group adds a slew of other enhancements like automatic headlamps, a capless fuel filler, power-adjustable side-view mirrors, cruise control and more.
Midrange XLT Rangers can be upgraded with a similar Chrome Appearance Package that adds $795 to the sticker price in addition to the $995 301A Package. Between these two options groups you get things like an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Sync 3, power-folding side-view mirrors, automatic highbeams, Ford Co-Pilot360 (the automaker’s suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies), bright-finished wheels, chrome exterior components and more. XLTs can also be had with a Black Appearance Package, which includes various dark-finished components, a spray-in bedliner and unique 18-inch wheels. It costs $1,995 in addition to the requisite 301A Package. Sport-appearance and trailer-tow packages are also on the menu.
Ford Ranger Pricing
A no-frills XL-trim, SuperCab, rear-wheel driver Ranger stickers for about $25,495. Step up to an entry-level XLT variant with the same body-style and drivetrain and expect to spend around $29,135. A similar Lariat version goes for about $33,405. Please note, all these prices include $1,195 in delivery fees.
If you want the more spacious SuperCrew body, opting for one will set you back around $2,200. Need the added traction of four-wheel-drive? Plan on spending about $4,000 for this traction-enhancing amenity.
Check every options box, grab every available addon and you can push a Lariat-model Ranger to around $47,000, a hefty chunk of change for a midsize truck.
Ford Ranger Competitors
But this price is not out of step with other models in the midsize-pickup segment. On the subject of competing trucks, this latest Ranger tussles with a slew of more-established nameplates. The Ford’s chief rivals include the Chevrolet Colorado and its corporate twin, the GMC Canyon, Toyota’s ever-popular Tacoma is a target as well, as is the Nissan Frontier, newly launched Jeep Gladiator and even the car-based Honda Ridgeline.
Ford Ranger Future Plans
Given that the Ford Ranger was just re-introduced for model-year 2019 and that it is, figuratively speaking, still wet behind the ears, it’s highly unlikely Ford has any significant updates or redesigns planned for this truck in the near future. That being said, the automaker has prepared an off-road-focused “Ranger Raptor” for other global markets and it’s entirely conceivable this trail-bashing, rock-crawling rig could be sold in North America as a midsize accompaniment to the larger F-150 Raptor. Additionally, the brand’s reborn Bronco SUV is destined to share major components with the Ranger, making it something of an offshoot, a different bodystyle.
2019 Ford Ranger Review
By Craig Cole
Honestly, I never expected to like the new Ford Ranger.
Ever since the company announced this nameplate was returning to North America after a seven model-year hiatus, I viewed the move with narrow-eyed suspicion and an unnecessary dose of face-scrunching incredulity. I thought for certain Ford would do little more than hastily pluck a substandard product from its global portfolio and unceremoniously dump it on the market with as few changes and at the lowest cost possible, just like they did with the EcoSport crossover. But how wrong I was.
Dearborn’s latest pickup is a rough-and-tumble rig that brings unexpected capability, refinement, and technology to the flourishing midsize-pickup segment. Even though it’s a little late to the party, competitors should be concerned.
A Compact Pickup No More
You may remember the previous-generation Ranger, which departed from Ford’s North American lineup around model-year 2011. Crude and outdated, it was a compact pickup, truly the last of its breed as all the competition (save the Nissan Frontier) had morphed into midsize models as they were redesigned by their respective companies. Following suit, the new Ranger has grown as well.
Contending with the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and, depending on who you ask, possibly even Honda’s unibody Ridgeline, this truck seems to have been optimized to compete in the very heart of the retail midsize pickup market. Just three trim levels are offered: XL, XLT, and Lariat (with several available options packages). Also, two bodies styles are on the menu including SuperCab models with a six-foot bed and room for four people, as well as SuperCrew versions brandishing a five-foot-long cargo box and one extra seat. No matter the model, the width, wheelbase and overall length remain identical.
The Ranger can also be defined by what it does NOT offer. A regular-cab body is M-I-A, there are no optional powertrains, a manual transmission is absent, and engineers seem to have forgotten about fancy aluminum bodywork as you get with Ford’s bigger trucks.
This pickup’s cabin is well thought out and comfortable, though the Colorado might have a slight edge in overall quality. Ford’s swift and straightforward Sync 3 infotainment system is offered, with support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Available technology like adaptive cruise control, Amazon Alexa skills, Waze integration, and rain-sensing windshield wipers give the Ranger an edge over rival models.
As one would expect, this truck’s SuperCrew cabin is plenty roomy, with lots of rear-seat head- and leg-room, though the aft backrest is a little more upright than necessary, a minor gripe. For added versatility, the lower cushion flips up, revealing a small storage cubby or allowing the Ranger to swallow larger pieces of cargo.
This midsize truck’s front buckets are decidedly thronelike, supportive in all the right places and long-haul comfortable. Even with the lower cushions at a chair-like height it still offers tons of headroom. From a comfort standpoint, Ford’s new Ranger absolutely destroys the Toyota Tacoma, with its wonky, sitting-on-the-floor driving position.
Easing the burden of arduous trips, Ford CoPilot-360 is standard. This suite of driver-assistance features includes goodies like lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring and more.
Downsides to this truck’s interior are few. The shift lever is comically tall and its physical climate controls are far too small and dark, relegated to the bottom of the center stack. Using them with work gloves on is likely an impossibility. Fortunately, there are redundant controls for this within Sync 3.
No Choice for You!
On paper at least, the 2019 Ranger seems to be at a disadvantage compared to rival models like the Tacoma and Colorado. The former offers two engine options, the latter, a whopping three. For better or worse, just one drivetrain is available in Ford’s latest midsize pickup, a gasoline-drinking 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.
Rated at 270 ponies, its horsepower is comparable to what rival trucks’ optional V6 engines deliver. As for torque, it peaks at an impressive 310 pound-feet, which gives the Ranger a distinct advantage over everything else in the segment, save diesel-powered versions of the Colorado and GMC Canyon, both of which crank out 369 units of twist (their horsepower is much more modest at just 186).
Tuned for truck duty, this EcoBoost engine differs slightly from units that are used in other Ford vehicles like the Mustang, Explorer or Lincoln MKC. For starters, the compression ratio has been boosted to 10-to-1; it also features a higher-pressure fuel pump, which runs at more than 3,600 PSI (250 bar). There is a cooled exhaust-gas-recirculation system, variable-displacement oil pump and grooved main bearings supporting the forged crankshaft. This powerplant is also tuned to run on more affordable 87-octane gasoline, however, if you fill the tank with premium fuel you can expect closer to 300 horses.
Curiously, the Ranger also has a mechanical fan. This decision might result in additional parasitic drag, but engineers say the design flows more air than an electrically driven alternative, helping keep under-hood temps in check while towing or hauling heavy loads in challenging conditions.
As for the transmission, just one is offered, the same automatic (the 10R80) found in Ford’s larger F-150, though it’s fitted with a different bell housing adapter and torque converter for use in the Ranger.
Underneath that handsome body is a fully boxed frame that’s reinforced with six through-welded cross members. Parabolic rear leaf springs provide a controlled ride without sacrificing capability. Speaking to its toughness, this truck has endured the exact same durability testing as Ford’s larger F-150.
But what can you do with the new Ranger? Well, a lot. It offers a best-in-class payload rating of 1,860 pounds. It can also tow up 7,500 pounds, more than any other gasoline-powered midsize truck. For the record, when properly equipped, GM’s diesel duet should be able to drag a couple-hundred pounds more.
Two-wheel-drive Rangers sticker at 21 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 on the highway and 23 mpg combined. Opt for the available 4×4 system and those figures drop to 20, 24 and 22, respectively. Still, this should be the most economical gasoline-powered rig in its class. A seamless stop-start system helps bolster these figures.
And for all you truckers out there, the Ranger’s fuel tank is rather modest at just 18 gallons (68 liters) so you might be making a few extra stops on those cross-country drives.
Concerns about Ford only offering one engine in the new Ranger are unfounded. The truck’s EcoBoost delivers excellent performance and fuel economy, the efficiency benefits of a base four-cylinder engine with the performance than an up-level V6.
This four-pot engine is smooth and muted, offering plenty of off-the-line scoot with more-than-acceptable top-end pull. Just don’t expect it to sound like a V8, or even a six-cylinder engine for that matter. The Ranger’s 10-speed transmission makes the most of what this powerplant has to offer.
Despite having so many ratios in its stack, this transmission never seems to hunt. It’s almost always in the right gear given the current driving conditions; it’s also quite smooth. Upshifts are usually imperceptible and so are downshifts, well, most of the time. In my testing, the gearbox would occasionally jerk when dropping a gear or two, particularly while climbing hills but perhaps it was still adapting to my driving style.
The 2019 Ranger’s handling is secure and stable. Its steering wheel, which has a pleasantly meaty rim, provides agreeable amounts of heft for a planted feel. If there’s one glaring dynamic downside to this truck, it’s probably the brakes. Stopping power is never in question, but the pedal itself is far too mushy, sinking what feels like half a foot as you apply gentle pressure. A bit more starch in the pedal would be appreciated.
Two-wheel-drive Rangers deliver a refined on-road ride that’s nicely balanced, neither too firm nor overly soft. Four-by-four models are a bit stiffer. Models so equipped can also be had with a Terrain Management System, which adapts the truck’s behavior to different driving conditions. They even offer Trail Control, which is like cruise control for off-road driving.
The Verdict: 2019 Ford Ranger Review
Better late than never, the old adage goes. In taking its time entering the midsize-pickup market, Ford has delivered a truck that could be the segment’s best. Ranger has a dynamite powertrain, is very refined and how can you argue with its capability? I wouldn’t be surprised if it rapidly became the best-selling midsize pickup in America.
Rangers sold in Canada will only be offered with four-wheel drive. While the trim structure remains the same as in the U.S., base XL models will only come with SuperCab bodies, while top-of-the-line Lariat versions are SuperCrew only. Splitting the difference, XLT variants can be had with either cab configuration.
In the U.S., base price for a two-wheel-drive, SuperCab XL model is $25,395 including $1,095 in destination charges. Swing for the fences and nab a loaded Lariat version and plan on spending at least 40 grand.
|Engine /||2.3L turbo 4-cylinder with automatic stop-start|
|Torque /||310 pound-feet|
|Transmission /||10-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain /||Rear- or four-wheel drive|
|Seating Capacity /||Up to 5|
|Cargo Box /||6-feet long (SuperCab), 5-feet long (SuperCrew)|
|Maximum Towing /||7,500 pounds (when properly equipped)|
|Maximum Payload /||1,860 pounds (when properly equipped)|
Our Final Verdict
The Ford Ranger is the best midsized pickup truck in its class, which makes sense because it’s also the newest. With an excellent powertrain, hard-working capability, and refinement all around, the Ford Ranger will likely become one of the most popular trucks in North America.4.8