Ranger makes impressive return

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Saturday, May 11, 2019

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Ford Ranger


My father had always been fond of the Ford Ranchero back in the 1950s although he often joked that it was for someone who “almost needed a pickup.”

He would love the new 2019 Ford Ranger because its size is as manageable as the old Ranchero but its capabilities and performance are so much more.

Joe Redwine, general sales manager at Karl Klement Ford, loaned us a 2019 Ranger XLT Sport SuperCrew for a week and we took full advantage of the little truck.

It’s the first new Ranger since Ford dropped the truck 2011. The new Ranger is similar to the truck in use in Europe and Australia for several years.

The Ranger is powered by a 2.3 liter, 270 horsepower, four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. That combination provides 23 combined city-highway miles per gallon.

Consumer Reports described the new Ranger as a “modest-sized truck with attitude.” The magazine continued, “given the mammoth scale of the latest F-150 and Super Duty pickups, there is room in the Ford line for a modest-scale truck that can be both suburbia-friendly and ready for adventure”

We have two Ranger fans on the Messenger staff, so I asked our editor Richard Greene and our general manager Mark Jordan to take the truck home for an evening and give me their impressions.

Richard was enthusiastic. “As a big fan and past owner of the previous generation Ford Ranger, I was excited about the opportunity to test drive the new model.

“My first impression is it’s a beautiful vehicle on the outside, especially the hot pepper metallic finish. The body is taller and longer than the previous model, fitting a roomier cab and back seat.

“Behind the steering wheel the Ranger was even more impressive. What really stands out is the truck’s acceleration. It really seemed to take off even against 30-mph wind gusts on the day I drove it.

“The only thing I didn’t like in the XLT model was the location of the heating and air controls. I imagine it just takes some getting used to finding them under the radio controls or teaching yourself to use the digital display.”

Mark, who drives a Ford Explorer company car, has always said if he had to buy a new vehicle the Ranger would be the perfect size.

“The new 2019 Ranger is a fun drive with a ride that feels like a larger truck, very much its keeping with its larger brethren F-Series.

“The XLT cabin is nice and its very quiet while bucking some of the fierce winds we’ve had lately. The ride is smooth although as with any pickup hitting potholes and road surface changes are a little more noticeable with the larger tires on the Sport package that we tested.

“The Ranger should compete very nicely with other smaller segment trucks as it re-enters this market after a lengthy hiatus. Simply stated the new Ford Ranger is a winner.”

The Ranger is coming back just as the market for mid-sized pickups is growing, thanks to the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, introduced a few years ago to compete with mid-sized pickups from Toyota, Nissan and Honda. Our mid-level Ranger SuperCrew had an MSRP of $33,495.

Another review of the Ranger accurately points out that mid-sized pickups are fairly close in size to what full-size trucks used to be.

“That should make them appealing to a lot of buyers who don’t need the extra capability – or the bulk – of a half-ton but still want something with cargo capacity that isn’t an SUV.”

All of us who drove the Ranger think Ford has a worthy competitor to the Colorado and Canyon and most national reviews say it is superior to the Toyota Tacoma.

It will be fun to watch over the next year how the mid-sized pickup market develops. If there’s one thing that Ford knows, it is how to sell pickup trucks, and with the Ranger they’ve got a worthy competitor in a segment that’s bound to grow.

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