This is the new 2019 Ford Ranger and it revives the Ranger name that existed for decades and finally went away after the 2011 model year. But now with renewed interest in small trucks the Ford Ranger is back, and today I’m gonna find out if it’s any good.
Before I dive into this a little background on the Ranger; Now for many years the Ranger was Ford’s other pickup, sort of a smaller alternative to the larger F-150 and it was never an especially nice vehicle but it was an honest simple reliable work truck. Unfortunately about ten years ago the small pickup truck market segment was thought to be dead here in the United States, so Ford canceled the Ranger here in North America.
Now they’ve brought it back but this is not a new truck. Even though the 2019 Ford Ranger is new to North America, this is roughly the same vehicle that Ford has been selling in other countries for the last several years. In fact living here in San Diego I’ve already seen a bunch of these new Rangers on the road because Ford has been offering roughly this same model in Mexico for a while now. Still the 2019 Ranger has been adapted and modernized a little bit for its reintroduction into the American market and probably its most notable feature is the power-train.
North American Rangers will only come with a 2.3 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 270 horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque, pretty healthy. It has a 10 speed automatic transmission. This truck is offered with rear or four-wheel drive. Obviously this one is an extended cab model with rear-wheel drive.
So with that out of the way, now it’s time for me to show you all the quirks and features of the new Ranger, then I’m going to get it out on the road and drive it, and then I’m going to give it a score.
I’m gonna start the quirks and features on the inside of the new Ranger and specifically with the button to fold in the power mirrors. It’s not just a switch where you go fold or unfold, it’s a button and the mirrors instantly respond to whatever you do which means you can make them do a little dance if you just keep pushing it.
The next interesting item in this truck is the sheer amount of safety equipment that it features. Now this is a lariat model which is pretty high up in the range but it’s not full of crazy opulent luxury stuff and yet this thing has a lane keep assist, which is this feature that will steer you back into your lane if you start to veer out it has adaptive cruise control, so it’ll slow down or speed up on the highway based on the speed of the car in front of you which is a feature that only a few years ago seemed only possible in BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus’s and now it’s trickled down to sort of a mid-level compact pickup truck. It is just incredible to me how far safety technology has expanded.
Next up we move on to the center console, open it up and you will find this little plastic tray near the latch, which is of course for pens, a nice easy spot to keep them. If you look on the underside of the lid of the center console you will also see a little clip for one single pen and a little diagram of a pen, so you know what to put there. You’ll never run out of pens.
Next up is something I like to call the Ford hierarchy of sounds, so I have the hazard lights on and you can hear them clicking like turn signals, but you open the door and it temporarily mutes the hazard light sound so that you can hear its door opening chime. Apparently Ford thinks that the door opener is more important than the hazard light sound, at least briefly because then the hazard light sound comes back on, but it’s kind of interesting to think about car engineering you have to figure out in which sounds take priority over others and which ones deserve to be muted, something I hadn’t really considered before.
Next up to the left of the steering wheel you’ll see a little button over there with a pickup on it and like a light shining into the bed, you press that button to turn on the bed lights. So if you have stuff in there and you’re trying to find your tools and it’s late at night you can turn the bed lights and you’ll have your area illuminated, so things will be a little easier to find.
Next we move on to the back of the new Ranger where there are a couple of interesting features, one is the fact that the giant Ford logo in the back isn’t merely a Ford logo, look closer look underneath and you will see it also hides the backup camera, which is a pretty clever spot to stick that most people will never notice and it means you don’t have to put some extra little contraption in the back to hold the back up camera.
Something else I like about the back of the Ranger I love the fact that they actually spell out Ranger on the tailgate, like those old 1990s Toyota pickups that spelled out Toyota. Most automakers have gone away from that, but it gives it sort of a tough truck kind of image from the old days, and I think it looks really cool.
One labeling item that I’m not so sure about is on the brake lights if you get really close on the bottom half of the brake lights, you can see it says blind spot radar which is fine but why do they have to tell you that’s where it is? When you look at the turn signal it doesn’t say turn signal, so why did they decide to label that one piece? Is it so you could brag to people that you have a blind spot in monitoring system in your truck?
Another interesting item printed on the outside of this truck, at the base of the windshield it says Ranger and it also has a little image of the front of the truck, I suspect they’re doing this to follow Chrysler’s lead; a few years ago Chrysler started printing cool little graphics on its windshields and what they found was that with those little graphics people were far likelier to replace their windshield with a factory windshield. If it got image then people will avoid going for an aftermarket part, so maybe now other automakers will start to follow suit.
Now next I want to talk about the Raptor, there’s a new Ford pickup out and so naturally one of the first questions that people ask especially enthusiasts is; is there going to be a raptor? Ford surprised everybody by saying; no they have no plans to develop a raptor version of this truck, like they have for the f-150. I was really surprised by that and it leads me to think that one of three things may be going on number one is the fact that this Ranger is already pretty far along in its lifecycle. This truck came out 2011-2012 for the rest of the world and so its probably only got maybe three or four years left before it is redesigned. Even though it’s a new truck in North America, it isn’t globally, so I’m thinking maybe Ford doesn’t see the point in developing a raptor and then redesigning the truck, and then developing another one, and they’re just gonna wait, that’s possibility at number one number. Two is that they’re straight up lying to us, if they tell you they’re gonna build a raptor then you’ll wait to buy one, where if they say no we’re not thinking about a raptor you go buy one then they come out with a raptor and you buy another, which is a tried-and-true car company strategy. Could be of course there’s also a third possibility and that would be that Ford is simply stupid. Okay you take a look at the truck market; the trucks that sell the very fastest with the smallest discounts are the off-road version of the F-150 the Raptor and the off-road version of the Toyota Tacoma, which is called the TRD pro. They sell immediately, they’re selling for over sticker price. They’re really popular dealers level, so Ford looks at that market, they’re like; well the F-150 off-road version sells well, and the Tacoma off-road version sells well, so we’re not gonna make an off-road version for the Ranger. I sincerely hope a raptor version is coming either on this generation or the next generation Ranger, because to not make one could only be described as stupid given the success of those types of vehicles. With other models and given the brand equity and name recognition that the Raptor already has after Ford has spent so much time and money developing it.
Moving back to the back of Ranger now when you drop the tailgate in a new f-150 it has this cool step system where you can pull out a series of steps and step right into your bed, and there’s even a railing. Unfortunately the Ranger is an older truck than the latest F-150, even though it’s just coming out in the States it’s been out in foreign markets for a few years, so they didn’t develop any sort of easy entry system into the bed for the Ranger. But anyway because there is no easy bed entry system you got to get in the old fashioned way.
Next we move on to the back seat of the new Ranger and I suspect most Ranger owners who actually want to use their back seat are going to get the crew cab model. This is only the extended cab but still it’s worth checking out to get into the back; you open the front door then you open the rear door. Now the front seat is currently positioned where a normal person would sit, so climbing into the back here with the front seat layer is actually impossible for an adult. If you’re gonna have somebody back here you really need to move this front seat forward and then compromise front legroom a little bit in order to get someone in back. These rear seats in the extended cab model are really only for small kids or short trips.
But once you’re in the back seats there are a couple of interesting quirks and features in this truck, one of which is the hidden compartments underneath the seat backs. Now to get under the seat, you pull little fabric loop which releases the seat back and then you have to open little plastic container and then you see the tire jack which is in the back seat, over on the passenger side in the back seat you do the exact same thing. Then you will find a hidden storage compartment for whatever you want to keep back there.
Now a moment ago I mentioned how restrictive the legroom was for these back seats, it’s really only reserved for children or adults for very short periods of time. But believe it or not the legroom isn’t the thing that makes these back seats so uncomfortable, that would be the angle of the seat; its back is 90 degrees so you have to sit completely upright in the back of this car, absolutely uncomfortable and not how people actually sit in vehicles. Again if you’re gonna take any people in the back of your ranger for any distances go for the crew cab model because no one will want to sit back here now.
Interestingly, despite the lack of comfort with these back seats, Ford does provide rear seat passengers with two separate USB charge ports with a household electrical outlet. So, you could be making toast in your toaster while you’re driven along in a back seat of your Ranger in utter discomfort.
Under the hood there are a couple of interesting items starting with the warning label for the fan. I love this because it just reads left to right without any words at all, first there’s an exclamation point; watch out, then there’s a fan, then you could get your hands stuck in the fan, and then read the owner’s manual. It says so much without using any words at all and if you look closely, you’ll see that the little graphic of the hand on that warning label it only has four fingers, so that person already had a little incident with a fan if you know what I’m saying.
Anyway, moving on to the actual engine itself, a 2.3 liter turbo four-cylinder EcoBoost is the only powertrain on the Ranger. There is no v6, at least not yet and probably not at all now. This really surprised me when I first heard it but then I heard the numbers 270 horsepower 310 pound-feet of torque, that’s really strong, and you’ll see how I feel about that on the driving portion in a minute. For now I want to talk about towing and a fuel economy towing is obviously important because people use trucks to tow and this truck with this powertrain is rated for up to 7500 pounds, which is impressive because the top-of-the-line Chevy Colorado with a v6 can only toast 7,000 pounds, and the Toyota Tacoma can only toast 6,800 pounds, in fact this almost reaches the towing capacity of the diesel Chevy Colorado at 7,700 pounds, that’s a really impressive towing capacity for a small truck and especially for just a four cylinder.
We move on to fuel economy; this is rated at 21 miles per gallon in the city 26 miles per gallon on the highway or 23 miles per gallon combined, that’s with two-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is a little bit lower that obviously, this is a fantastic rating again just behind the diesel Chevy Colorado but obviously that is far more expensive, considering that this is the base engine in the base Ranger. It’s really good fuel economy numbers for a compact or midsize pickup truck and basically it seems like you get all the power, the torque, the towing capacity, with none of the fuel economy hit, or at least that’s how it seems on paper.
Moving back inside the truck I want to talk about some of the technology with the screen and I’m gonna start with the gauge cluster now. The gauge cluster features a center speedometer and then screens on the left and on the right, screen on the left is fairly simple; it shows various displays; your fuel readout, your engine temperature, your rpm gauge, and it allows you to change and configure various settings, the screen on the right is more your infotainment screen; it allows you to switch between displays for the navigation system for your in-car entertainment, like your music and for your phone.
That may not be a very advanced setup for a luxury vehicle but for a compact midsize pickup truck, that is a pretty slick setup, having that center dial and very easily usable, configurable visible screens on either side. There are also a few quirks to the screens starting with the remote starter configuration, if you go in there it allows you to choose how long the truck stays on after you turn on the remote starter and one of the options is 15 minutes, so if you want to turn your truck with the remote starter and then just let it sit and sit and sit, you can have it sit for up to 15 minutes.
Also, another interesting quirk about the screen on the left is there’s a feature that will tell you how many seat belts are currently buckled, which in theory is actually a pretty decent idea, you see I’d buckle my seat belt it goes from 0 to 1, and if you’re a parent and you want to see if your children are buckled in, that seems like a pretty smart thing to have except getting to it is difficult, you have to go into vehicle settings then you have to scroll down to seatbelts, then click on it, and then it shows the display. Wouldn’t it be easier to just turn around to see if passengers are using the seatbelt, this is not a limo, I can see if the belts are buckled in, but nonetheless that’s a feature this truck has.
Next up we move on to the infotainment screen. There are a couple of interesting quirks I noticed, one is that you have the option to choose between four different backgrounds and oh boy are they enticing, you get boring, boring, boring, and boring, where’s the option for like a beautiful meadow, or a gorgeous mountain, or puffy clouds, not from Ford. They just give you a varying shades of gray or blue.
Another interesting one from the infotainment system; driving along and all of a sudden a message pops up on the screen, not just a message but an urgent message, that says that the interstate ahead has some hazardous driving conditions. I get kind of nervous there for a second but then I remembered this is San Diego, it’s 70 degrees, it’s a Saturday, there’s no traffic. Even as I drove through where it said would be hazardous it was not hazardous at all, so I’m not exactly sure why it freaked out, but I guess we now know that Ford’s Sync system may be a little bit of an anxiety problem.
Those are the quirks and features of the new Ford Ranger, now it’s time to get it out on the road and drive it. So I’ve been driving around for a couple days and here’s what I’ve learned; performance is excellent, acceleration whoa. I first saw that it was only gonna be a four-cylinder even though it’s 270 horsepower, even though it’s turbocharged EcoBoost whatever, I just assumed it was gonna be the wimpiest compact truck. Everybody else has a v6, like come on, but actually the performance is fantastic, this feels faster than Tacoma Colorado, any versions of them. This feels like the fastest compact midsize truck, whatever you want to call it. On the market it’s really really impressive, great mid-range power, great highway passing power, which is shocking to me for a four-cylinder, no matter how turbo-charged it is and how much torque it has; it is a great powertrain in this truck.
Other thing I learn about this truck is that everything other than the powertrain is fine, not incredible, not bad, you know the infotainment system; it all works well. The interior is fine, no one’s ever gonna be like oh it’s not luxurious enough for me, it’s a compact midsize truck, you know nobody cares about that. Steering and handling are fine, fine ride quality, it’s a little rougher than I thought it would be, actually ultimately it’s otherwise just a fairly standard truck that truthfully feels like something that is in the middle of its lifecycle. The upright seats in the back, the parking brakes, some of the controls and materials they’ve made a good job of integrating, a lot of the latest technology into this vehicle, but this doesn’t feel like an a-class killer, except for that powertrain. That’s a big except for because the powertrain is responsible for the fuel economy and most of the capabilities of this truck.
This is just an excellent truck, it would still be difficult for me not to want to get a Tacoma because that just sort of seems like a gold standard, you know it’s known for its durability, its reliability, how durable is a 2.3 liter 270 horsepower turbo engine really gonna be compared to like a low-stress Toyota 3.5 v6? Yeah! Sure the Tacoma’s technology isn’t as modern as this one in terms of infotainment, and maybe it doesn’t have so many safety features, and it’s not as fast, but like it’s the Tacoma, it’s proven.