I recently read a review of mid-size pickups in one of the auto magazines where the editors ranked the 2019 Ford Ranger at the bottom of the list against competitors like the Jeep Renegade, Chevy Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline. I thought, “If it is that bad, I need to drive one.” Let’s be clear: It’s not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty good – except for a couple of little details.
Sitting by the curb, the Ranger looks handsome– especially with its four-door SuperCrew body, Sport trim, FX4 off-road package, and blue paint. It’s especially fetching with its 17” Magnetic-painted aluminum wheels, carbon mesh black grille, exposed tow hooks, and spray in bedliner. It presents as a large truck…until you get next to it and realize it is much more city friendly than its larger brother. More rounded panels give the truck a European look ala the Escape and EcoSport crossovers.
Sliding inside passengers will notice wide swaths of plastic on the dash and doors, but silver inserts on the dash and padded parts on the doors keeps eyes and hands away from most of the hard stuff. Our truck skipped heated leather seats (though, the cloth ones with rotating headrests were very supportive), sunroof, and premium B&O audio, but did luxe up with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, and adaptive cruise. Further safety gear included blind spot warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning with auto brake, and rear cross traffic alert systems. Seat monitors alert drivers to children in the rear.
If you’re used to driving Ford Raptors with twin-turbo V6 engines, the Ranger may seem a little underpowered, but for the rest of us, it’s plenty peppy. Rangers come with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel-drive is optional. Throw in auto stop/start and fuel economy is rated 21/26-MPG city/highway with all wheels powered.
One of the biggest grips I read concerned the Ranger’s soft ride and handling. Well, it’s not a sports car – never promised to be one. It’s a capable off-roach machine, which means fat tires and monotube shocks to absorb rough trails. It’s with purpose. Beyond that, the FX4 Off-Road Package comes with an electronic-locking rear differential, heavy-duty front skid plate, and additional plates for the power steering motor, transfer case, and fuel tank. The terrain management system configures the powertrain for conditions like rocks, mud, snow, and pavement. What’s one driver’s “sloppy handling” is another’s “comfortable ride”. I embrace the latter.
One thing is for sure about the Ranger: You buy it for convenience, not for a big price discount over the F-150. Base price is $24,300, but clicking boxes for the SuperCrew cab and four-wheel drive immediately raised the sticker by over $6,000. Even without a loaded interior, our truck’s roll-out price came to a hefty $40,600. Even if some journalists don’t like the Ranger, Ford is certainly proud of it…and with good reason. Competitors include the Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon, and Honda Ridgeline.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.