The heat is on in the midsize pickup segment and we have Ford to thank for it. The new Ford Ranger is every bit as good as we expected but there’s a but…
I feel like we’ve been talking about the new Ford Ranger for years. And it’s been even longer with the new Ford Bronco! Thing is, with the Ranger, is that unlike the Bronco SUV, it faces off with only a handful of competitors. Shoppers in this segment are hungry but they are no fools. Herein lies the issue.
On the expensive side
The new Ford Ranger is expensive, no two ways about it. And this is the big but. As I write these lines, you can build a 2019 SuperCrew cab Ranger XLT for $38,439 including a $2,500 delivery allowance credit. A 2019 SuperCrew Ford F-150 XLT 4X4 with FX4 goes for $43,549 after an $8,000 credit. Sure, $6,500 in cash is a huge amount but who does that anymore? On a 60-month finance plan, the F-150 is just over $110 more per month before taxes. If only for the 6 1/2 -foot box, much larger cab and 5.0-litre V8, the money is well spent.
Great timeless pickup styling inside and out
But I did say the new 2019 Ford Ranger is good. And it begins with its styling. It has a youthful appearance that will age gracefully. I can picture a ’19 Ranger in ’39 looking just as sharp. The combination FX4 and XLT Sport Appearance packages keep the sporty and rugged Ranger looking classic-Ford-truck cool for a very long time.
Interestingly enough, the same will happen with the cabin. Ford’s built-in a strong level of self-imposed simplicity within the dashboard’s layout. Everything is there and accounted for but Ford did not attempt to jazz up the cabin with needless fancy trim or design elements. I’m seriously reminded, if you carry yourself back to the 60s, of my uncle’s ’69 F-100 and its 100% functional and useful – no fluff.
Even though this is the case, the 2019 Ford Ranger is still well equipped to tackle 21st century requirements. Depending on trim and options, an 8-inch touch screen, SYNC or SYNC3, AppLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and much more.
Now, depending on needs, the Ranger can be selected with a SuperCab or a SuperCrew cab. The SuperCab comes with a decent 6-foot box while the SuperCrew gets a 5-foot box. The latter combination is limited for human and work applications. Few items that would normally be carried in the pickup are 5-feet long. As well, room for child seats or even normal-sized adult humans turns out to be problematic, as in it’s tight back there.
A SuperCab with 6-foot box is more functional but from a capability point of view, the Ranger can tow up to 7,500 lb. when properly set up and haul up to 1,650 lb. in the bed.
Entertaining to drive
All 2019 Ford Rangers are dealt the same powertrain. They all get a 2.3-litre EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine with Auto Start-Stop technology which puts out 270-horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. There’s 10-speed automatic transmission in the mix as 4X4 with Electronic-Shift-On-the-Fly capability.
With 310 torques on tap as of 3,000 rpm, the Ranger turns out to be very quick. The 10-speed rows through gears with great certainty. Ford magically thinks the Ranger will consume on average 11.8/9.8L/100 km (highway/city) but the reality is that the truck will guzzle 12L/100 km on a regular basis, and without passengers, load or trailer.
Best of all, the ride is actually quite good. The front independent and rear Hotchkiss-type non-independent live axle with leaf springs actually does a good job at blending civility with better than decent handling. I won’t go so far as to refer to the driving experience as being refined but it’s far more comfortable than expected.
If you watch my crumby little video on the Ford Ranger, you’ll notice I loaded it up with a few hundred pounds of scrap wood and the ride actually improved marginally. As far as I’m concerned, this is the measure of a well-sorted truck. Steering and brakes are perfectly in tune with the application.
Tops in the segment
Well, it is and isn’t. It is one of the better drivers, most sophisticated and fairly capable of the segment, but the GM twins are more configurable. A Chevy Colorado can be had with a similarly tight Crew Cab but with a 6’2” box and there are many more options available. For this reason and the fact that the 3.6-litre V6 has a proven track record, I’d go for a Chevy Canyon or GMC Colorado.
Among the others, there’s also the Toyota Tacoma which is still wonderous in all kinds of ways, the Nissan Frontier, not so much and then there’s the Honda Ridgeline… Let’s not forget that until the new RAM “Dakota” arrives, there’s also the Jeep Gladiator.
And finally, there’s the whole issue with pricing. My XLT SuperCrew with FX4 (a must) and tech packages and more retailed for over $45,000. The F-150 is a much better value. Until Ford offers stripper versions of the Ranger, as in a 4X4 manual SuperCab for roughly $22,500, few truck buyers will spend ($31,000 for base XL SuperCab) the money for a Ranger. I wouldn’t either.