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Ford Ranger: From Compact Truck to All-New Midsize

By Arv Voss, July 27th, 2019

Today's midsize Ford Ranger began as a compact truck in 1983 -- a replacement to the Ford Courier (1972-1982). By 2006, all Ford compact trucks became known simply as Rangers.

-- OVERVIEW

The Ford Ranger returns in 2019 as a midsize pickup built on a high-strength steel frame, powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. The new Ranger is available in either a SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration. It comes in either a 4x2 or 4x4 drive format with Dana AdvanTEK independent front and solid rear axles with electronic locking. The truck is offered three trims starting with the base XL, the upscale XLT, and flagship Lariat; Chrome and Sport Appearance Packages are also available.

-- EYE APPEAL

The Ranger's body displays a muscular image with a high beltline; while the aft-raked grille and windshield contribute to an athletic flavor, they also enhance aerodynamics and minimize wind noise. Short overhangs fore and aft provide better approach and departure angles for off-road adventures. An available FX4 Off-Road Package features off-road-tuned suspension, all-terrain tires, frame-mounted heavy-gauge steel front bash and skid plates, a rear locking differential. Its rugged steel bumper offers an available integrated trailer hitch receiver that allows for towing campers, ATVs, or watercraft up to 7,500 pounds.

-- TEST RANGER

My test 2019 Ford Ranger was a SuperCab model in a 4x4 configuration (FX4 Off Road Package) and Lariat trim with a 5-foot cargo box and a 26.8-inch wheelbase. The exterior wore a Magnetic Gray metallic coat, while the interior was done in Ebony tones. The base sticker was set at $38,385, while added optional fare and destination and delivery charges bumped the final tally to $44,855. The tester came with Equipment Group 501A, the Lariat Series package, Sport Appearance Package, and a spray-in-bedliner.

-- EFFICIENT POWER

The longitudinally mounted 2.3-liter inline four mates to a new smooth 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and produces 270 horsepower at 5,500 rpm along with 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine comes with auto stop/start and direct injection.

-- PERFORMANCE

The 2019 Ford Ranger was designed, engineered, and tested to F-150 standards, and is rated as the most fuel-efficient gas-powered midsize pickup in America, boasting an EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 21 mpg.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine delivers power equal to many V-6s providing a strong linear acceleration through its 10 gears with smooth transitions. It is stable on the road and capable of conquering challenging off-road scenarios equally well. Drive modes include electronic shift-on-the-fly 2WD and 4Lo and 4Hi modes, while the innovative Terrain Management System provides four distinct settings, including Normal, Snow/Grass/Gravel, Mud and Ruts, and Sand and Trail Control for ideal off-road duty. Handling characteristics are on par with a sedan or mid-size SUV.

-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

A far cry from the very first Rangers, the new 2019 examples provide a wealth of creature comforts, such as comfortable and supportive eight-way power driver and passenger heated seats with power lumbar support, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and leather-trimmed gear shift knob, Bang and Olufsen premium sound system, a FordPass Connect 4G Wi-Fi modem with SYNC, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 personal devices, and intelligent access with push-button start. A host of safety and security features are also available, as well as a complete suite of driver assist technological features such as Ford C-Pilot360.

-- THE FINAL TAKE

The 2019 Ford Ranger's return fills a void in Ford's hauler lineup, since not everybody needs a full-size pickup. It is a worthy addition to the midsize truck resurgence. Its only shortcomings are that the rear seat legroom is limited with tall front seat occupants and the locking tailgate, though light, could benefit from assisted damping. All in all, the Ranger's return to the midsize class is a welcome one and represents a step up in terms of size and feature content.

Specifications

Base price $38,385 (as tested: $44,855)
Curb weight 4,441 lbs.
Displacement 2.3-liter
Engine type 16-valve EcoBoost 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18 gal.
Horsepower (net) 270 at 5500 rpm
Overall length 210.8 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 310 at 3000 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4x4 midsize pickup
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