2023 Ford Ranger XLT Review
|2.3L I4 Turbo
|270 hp, 310 lb-ft
|US fuel economy (MPG):
|CAN fuel economy (L/100KM):
|Starting Price (USD):
|$28,895 (inc. dest.)
|As-Tested Price (USD):
|$46,425 (inc. dest.)
|Starting Price (CAD):
|$52,760 (inc. dest.)
|As-Tested Price (CAD):
|$40,675 (inc. dest.)
Fleet buyers still go for full-sized rigs in their most cost-efficient forms, while the public snaps them up in luxo-barge trims with increasing frequency. What about those who don’t want to captain a bejeweled battleship?
Don’t let those shiny chrome wheels fool you: this is not a fancy truck. The Ranger has dropped down the sales charts against an influx of new or significantly revised competition—not to mention its hyper-affordable little brother Maverick—but for those who need a no-nonsense pickup capable of regular truck tasks, in a more approachable scale, this veteran still appeals.Get a Quote on a New 2023 Ford Ranger
Not this truck. The Ranger arrived on these shores for the 2019 model year, but its bones date back further, when it first launched in other global markets. While Ford confirmed the next-generation Ranger over a year ago— including a Raptor variant with the drivetrain from the Bronco Raptor—North America is still on the waiting list. For 2023 the middle child of the Blue Oval truck family soldiers on with minimal changes.
It’s the old-Ford styling that gives the game up. Whereas the Maverick has a cute, non-threatening visage, and the F-150 is a rectilinear cliff face, the Ranger has a sanded-down softness that calls to mind the unloved EcoSport. The tailgate’s height emphasizes the truck’s narrowness too, another telltale sign it wasn’t originally made for this market. This particular tester makes the best of the package, at least to these eyes, with a classic truck look of bright red and chrome wheels.
Nothing changes under the hood either, though that’s not a complaint. Every North American Ranger runs the familiar 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, pumping out a respectable 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic sends power to the rear wheels as standard, with part- and full-time 4WD systems available.
The Ranger’s advancing age is readily apparent once one climbs into the cabin, too. There are more hard plastics here than the Lego aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us, especially the hollow-feeling center console. On the one hand, buyers would likely be less bothered by wear and tear in this no-nonsense approach. A little bit of visual interest wouldn’t hurt, though, and this isn’t a base model, either. The door cards at least include some contrasting material to liven the place up.SEE ALSO: 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid Review: How To Make Friends and Influence People
The dashboard design groups the important media and climate controls together. Ford has done well by keeping big rotary dials here, easy to use even with gloves on. The temperature controls could use the same treatment, though: the tiny toggles are harder targets, not to mention require constant jabs. That you need to dive into the infotainment screen for more advanced climate controls isn’t ideal, either. Storage space is in short supply as well, with a small center console and shallow door pockets.
Space and comfort are merely okay in the Ranger. The cloth front seats are tall and flat, but have deceptive levels of long-distance support. Both front seats are power-operated, except for seatback angle.
The SuperCrew setup allows for three folks across the back row, but they better be on a first-name basis. Like most mid-sizers, these seats are bolt-upright. Legroom is actually pretty decent though, measuring in at 34.5 inches (876 millimeters).
Ease of use
Ford’s Sync 3 really sums up the 2023 Ranger. This is an old, old system—one that brings to mind buying ring tones from a text-only browser page on your flip phone. Its response time is appropriate for that era, too. The recessed 8.0-inch screen setup is another nod to the Ranger’s age: everything is all fancy flush or stand-proud-of-the-dashboard these days.SEE ALSO: Jeep Gladiator vs Nissan Frontier Comparison: The Work-Life Balance
But it works. The learning curve is flatter than Florida, so there’s no time spent guessing at sub-menus. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, and the former works without issue.
Props to Ford for keeping the Ranger up to date with its regular safety immunizations, too. This tester has a solid lineup of automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. The standard backup camera also includes dynamic guidelines. It’s a consistent suite that works as advertised, and much more comprehensive than the last mid-sizer I drove.SEE ALSO: 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Review
Strong engine, busy ride
If it sounds like I’m being harsh on the Ranger … well, yes. It has issues. The drivetrain isn’t one, though. The Ranger was the first mid-sized pickup to move to a turbo-four powerplant, and it’s still the truck’s greatest strength. Muscular at all engine speeds, and happily drinking from the regular pump, the EcoBoost is an ideal match. It even kind of sounds like a mini-scale big rig, with a breathy note at low speeds.
Ford’s 10-speed has come in for criticisms here at AutoGuide before, namely for never being able to make up its mind. Yet there’s no such issue here, as the transmission picks a gear and sticks to it. Whether driving around town or on the highway, it never put a foot wrong. Fuel economy was right near the official 21 mpg (11.1 L/100 km) combined figure too, and that’s in the winter. No wonder Chevy is moving to an all turbo-four lineup this year.
It isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, however. As good as the Ranger’s drivetrain is—and the steering too, which is direct and consistently weighted—the suspension tuning lets it down. It’s bouncy and easily unsettled, with passengers doing an unplanned Night at the Roxbury impression over every speed bump.
The FX4 package comes with a trail control system, which allows for different driving modes tailored to gravel, mud and ruts, and snow. An unusually mild week didn’t allow for me to really put them through their paces, however.
A high towing capacity is another major Ranger selling feature, topping out at 7,500 pounds (3,402 kilograms). Payload capacity can be as high as 1,770 lb (803 kg), too. I helped a family member load up a few hundred pounds of junk heading for the dump and the Ranger simply shrugged it off.
2023 Ford Ranger XLT: Dollars and sense
Ford prices the Ranger exactly as you’d expect: smack dab in the middle of the Maverick and F-150. A bone-stock, rear-drive base model can be had for about $30,000 in the US; in Canada, where 4WD is standard, you’re looking at around $40,000 CAD (both prices include destination).
This mid-level XLT 4×4 ($38,400 / $44,410 CAD) comes with a smattering of options. Some, like the XLT 302A Equipment Group ($2,450 / $3,385 CAD) and its powered (and heated) seats and mirrors, remote start, and appearance package are good value. If you’re planning on regularly venturing off the tarmac, the FX4 package’s locking diff and trail control system ($1,295 / $1,400 CAD) is a must, too. I’d skip the running boards if I were heading that direction, however.
All in, this Canadian-spec tester rings in at $52,760 CAD, and an equivalent US build would total $46,425. That’s not exactly cheap, but it doesn’t even net a no-options F-150 XLT 4×4.SEE ALSO: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Range Test Review
Verdict: 2023 Ford Ranger XLT Review
Despite its age, the 2023 Ford Ranger XLT still has attributes that should make it appealing to mid-sized truck buyers. Its strong engine and high tow rating allow it to accomplish most truck tasks with a footprint that’s easier to live with. It lacks refinement, but if the segment’s sales charts tell us anything, most mid-sized buyers aren’t really looking for that, anyway. If this year’s new model can fix the interior and busy ride, while keeping the Ranger’s honest workhorse attitude, the Blue Oval could have another winner on its hands.
How much does the 2023 Ford Ranger cost?
The official MSRP for the 2023 Ford Ranger is $28,895, including destination. That’s for an XL SuperCab 4×2. In Canada, where 4×4 is standard, the Ranger XL SuperCab lists for $40,675 CAD.
Is Ford changing the Ranger for 2023?
For the model year, no, but we expect the new second-generation model to debut in North America over the coming months.
Does the 2023 Ford Ranger have a V6?
No, all trims use the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. The next-gen Ranger Raptor will feature a turbo V6.
Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.
- Strong engine
- Good towing capacity
- Low learning curve
- Dated interior
- Busy ride
- Awkward looks
Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.
More by Kyle Patrick