The Ranger was once a sales leader in a burgeoning class of compact pickup trucks, but in the past 10 years, the compact segment has been abandoned and grown into the mid-size pickup-truck segment. The sole compact holdout is the Ranger. Pickup trucks don’t get much smaller than the Ranger, and the diminutive Ford is both outsized and outclassed by the competition.
Since its inception in 1983, the Ranger has undergone only one major redesign. The current Ranger design arrived way back in 1993 during Pres. Bill Clinton’s first term in office. A freshening that included a beefier frame occurred in 1998; since then the Ranger has been left behind by ever-larger competition such as the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline. Predictably, the Ranger’s once strong sales have fallen off dramatically over the past few years.
Ford offers three engines in the Ranger. The base engine is a fuel-efficient DOHC 2.3-liter four-cylinder with 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The next step up is a pushrod 3.0-liter V-6 with 148 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the range is a SOHC 4.0-liter V-6 (shared with the Explorer and Mustang) that makes 207 horsepower and 238 pound-feet of torque in the Ranger. All engines are available with a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive is not available with the base four-cylinder engine but is optional with both V-6 engines. Most of the Ranger’s competitors offers more horsepower from their V-6 engines, and some even have optional V-8 power.
Ford offers two cab styles in the Ranger: a regular cab and the longer SuperCab, which sports optional small jump seats in the second row. The Ranger has fallen behind the times, as it does not offer a full four-door version—rear-hinged rear doors are optional on SuperCab models. Compared with the competition, the Ranger’s cabin is cramped and dated. Tellingly, the interior design dates to the mid-’90s, when the Ranger was first outfitted with dual front airbags. Towing capacity ranges from 1580 pounds up to 5860 pounds. Mazda sells a rebadged version of the Ranger under the Mazda B-series moniker.
The Ford Ranger is a dated compact pickup truck that has been surpassed by its competition in size, capability, and refinement. The Ranger’s low price and cost of ownership are perhaps the only compelling reasons to consider it; there are better choices on the market.
What’s New for 2008
A more aerodynamic front-bumper design helps boost fuel economy slightly. Service intervals are extended to 7500 miles. Tire-pressure monitoring is now standard. The FX4 Off-Road Ranger gets a few upgrades, including heavy-duty Rancho shocks, stiffer rear springs, skid plates, and sport bucket seats. One new color dubbed Grabber Orange is available for 2008.
The most basic Ranger is the XL trim level that starts at $15,025 for a rear-wheel-drive regular-cab model. The larger SuperCab Ranger XL starts at $16,500 for a rear-wheel-drive model. A regular-cab Ranger XL with four-wheel drive starts at $18,870; XL SuperCabs with four-wheel drive start at $20,380. Standard equipment on the XL trim level includes power steering; a five-speed manual transmission; a 143-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine; a tachometer; a heater; black manual exterior mirrors; black door handles; a two-speaker AM/FM stereo with a clock; a 60/40 split-folding vinyl bench seat; black vinyl floor covering; anti-lock brakes; 15-inch steel wheels; and tire-pressure monitoring. Four-wheel-drive models add a 148-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 engine.
Moving up to the XLT trim level requires $16,750 for a regular cab with rear-wheel drive, $20,340 for a regular cab with four-wheel drive, $18,150 for a SuperCab with rear-wheel drive, and $21,340 for a SuperCab with four-wheel drive. A SuperCab with rear doors is an additional $1255. The XLT trim level gives buyers all the standard equipment from the XL version and adds a chrome grille, cloth upholstery, color-coordinated carpet and floor mats, air conditioning, a four-speaker AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio and CD player with MP3 capability and an auxiliary input jack, and rear folding seats (four-door SuperCab). Four-wheel-drive models add the 3.0-liter V-6, front tow hooks, fog lights, and 15-inch chrome-color steel wheels.
The Sport trim level dresses up the Ranger and starts at $17,285 for a regular cab with rear-wheel drive ($20,785 for a regular cab with four-wheel drive) and rises to $18,940 for a rear-drive SuperCab (the four-wheel-drive SuperCab starts at $21,985). Adding rear doors to the SuperCab models adds $1255. The Sport trim level yields the following standard equipment (in addition to the XL equipment): the 3.0-liter V-6; step-up bars; fog lights; body-color exterior mirrors, door handles, bumpers, and wheel lip moldings; rugged vinyl flooring; 15-inch machined aluminum wheels; air conditioning; and a four-speaker AM/FM/Sirius radio with an MP3-capable CD player and auxiliary input jack. Four-wheel-drive SuperCab Sport models get the 4.0-liter V-6, a Class III trailer hitch, 16-inch aluminum wheels, and skid plates.
The dirt-road-ready FX4 Off-Road trim level comes only as a SuperCab and has standard four-wheel drive. FX4 models begin at $23,515 and rise to $24,770 for a four-door SuperCab. Standard equipment on the FX4 trim level includes the equipment from the XLT model plus the 4.0-liter V-6; four-wheel drive; step-up bars; two-tone paint; fog lights; front tow hooks; cloth sport bucket seats; vinyl flooring with slush mats; a tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel; cruise control; a limited-slip rear differential; power windows, locks, and exterior mirrors; skid plates; Rancho shock absorbers; and a Class III trailer hitch.
The Ranger XL offers the following extra-cost options: a seven-foot bed ($1270, regular cab only), a 3.0-liter V-6 ($425), a 4.0-liter V-6 ($1225, SuperCab only), a limited-slip differential ($300), a five-speed automatic transmission ($1000), cloth upholstery ($220), and rear jump seats ($225, SuperCab). There are also body-color side moldings ($60), skid plates ($140, four-wheel drive), AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio and an MP3-capable CD player with an auxiliary input jack ($355), air conditioning ($850), a bedliner ($275), a tilting steering wheel and cruise control ($385), a full-size spare tire ($110), a Class III trailer hitch ($215), a sliding rear window ($125), an engine-block heater ($90), a Sirius satellite radio receiver and six-month subscription ($195), and Payload Package #2 ($75) that includes stiffer rear springs and heavy-duty shocks for increased gross vehicle weight and payload capacities.
The well-equipped XLT can be outfitted with many of the same options as the XL at nearly the same prices—if not exactly the same. Additional add-ons include a 3.73:1 limited-slip differential ($300), a longer bed ($1125, regular cab only), 15-inch chrome-clad steel wheels ($190), a six-CD in-dash changer ($240), fog lights ($115), a bed extender ($195), tinted glass ($110), a step-up bar ($300), and the Power Equipment Group that bundles power windows, locks, and mirrors with remote keyless entry ($405). The BFT Component package ($490) that includes a 3.73 limited-slip differential and a Class III trailer hitch is also available. The following options are exclusive to four-wheel-drive XLT models: 16-inch aluminum wheels ($250), cloth bucket seats ($330), a leather bench seat ($385), leather bucket seats ($715), a 290-watt Pioneer stereo system ($450), the $245 Bright Appearance package (chromed bed rails and 15-inch chrome steel wheels), and the $105 Bright Trim Group that includes a chrome exhaust tip and step-up bars.
The Sport offers most of the same options. The following options are exclusive to SuperCab Sport models: a 207-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 ($800, standard with 4WD), 16-inch aluminum wheels, rear jump seats, cloth bucket seats, a leather bench seat, leather bucket seats, a 290-watt Pioneer stereo system, the Bright Appearance package, and the Bright Trim Group.
The off-road-ready FX4 offers the following optional equipment: a five-speed automatic transmission ($1000), a 4.10:1 Torsen limited-slip differential ($250), leather bucket seats ($385), a six-CD in-dash changer, the Pioneer stereo, Sirius satellite radio, rear jump seats, a bed extender, a bedliner, a sliding rear window, an engine-block heater, the Bright Trim Group, and the Payload Package #2.
Dual front airbags, tire-pressure monitoring, and anti-lock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, and stability control are not available on the Ranger, which is hardly surprising given that seatbelts were practically a recent innovation when the model debuted.