It’s hard to dislike an entire segment of automobile, but the more midsize trucks I drive, that’s where I’m unfortunately landing. So it’s with no intended offense to the 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 that I continue that trend with this review. You’ll see where I land on the midsize truck segment later, but first let’s check out the new Ford Ranger!
Note: Danny just brought you a great off-road test of the Ranger from the Trail Trek Tour’s Midsize Truck Off-Road Challenge, so I’m going to focus mine on fully on pavement driving.
You can spec your Ranger one of two primary ways – either the SuperCab with a 6-foot bed or the SuperCrew with a 5-foot bed (or “box” in Ford lingo). Our test truck was the larger SuperCrew spec in Lariat trim, there are also cheaper XL and XLT trims available. The combination shown here will start at $32,390, which is about $8,000 more than the base XL.
All Ford Rangers come with the same 270 horsepower 2.3L EcoBoost engine, but you can opt for 4×2 or 4×4 depending on your needs and wants. Of course, the 4WD system will add another $4,000 to the bottom line. Obviously, our test truck came with that box checked, so the base price of this Ranger Lariat is $38,565 before options.
With regard to said options, this truck gets quite a bit of stuff tacked on to the window sticker, including the 501A package for $1,795. That includes:
- B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen with HD Radio (SuperCrew only)
- Ten Speakers and a Subwoofer (SuperCrew only)
- Technology Package – Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation System
- Rain-Sensing Wipers
- Remote Start
- Windshield Wiper De-Icer
It also gets the FX4 Off-Road Package which adds a bunch of stuff for a reasonable $1,295:
- Off-Road Tuned Suspension
- 17-inch or 18-inch Off-Road OWL Tires
- Electronic-locking Rear Differential (3.73)
- Exposed Front Tow Hooks
- Exposed Steel Bash Plate
- Off-Road Screen in Cluster – provides feedback on pitch and roll, plus steering angle
- Front Air Dam Delete
- Skid Plates – Fuel Tank, Transfer Case, and Front Differential
- Terrain Management System
- Trail Control
- 4×4 “FX4 Offroad” Bodyside Decal
From there it’s a bunch of additional one-off items like LT 265/65R17 All-Terrain tires for $175, spray-in bedliner for $495, floor liner for $135, trailer tow package for $495, kelyess entry keypad for $95, and the Sport Appearance Package for $895.
That brings the final net price as-tested to $44,960 with destination & delivery. That’s about the price of a 2020 F-150 SuperCrew Lariat. Interesting.
I love the way the Ranger looks, I think it’s a handsome truck, especially in FX4 guise. It’s particularly good looking in this shade of blue, dubbed “Lightning Blue”. Perhaps a nod to trucks of days gone by at Ford? Regardless, it’s a good looking truck.
In keeping with truck tradition, the name of the truck is emblazoned in huge letters across the back. They are pretty big on the front too.
Not much else to say on the outside, nice job Ford.
Much like my biggest issue with the Tacoma, the Ranger just didn’t have the comfort I was hoping for (and I drive a 2017 JK Jeep Wrangler) especially when compared to Ford’s own full-size trucks.
Specifically, the seats really just aren’t that comfortable; I couldn’t seem to adjust the driver’s seat in any direction to get it where I wanted it. The leather upholstery was nice, but the seats are very flat and there are almost no bolsters on either side. Not that this truck is a corner carver, but I could have used a bit more support.
I really like the big chunky steering wheel, it looked great and felt good as well. The big chunky shifter feels good at hand, but it’s a little hard to move at times. Elsewhere, things were pretty nice, Ford has upped their interior game across their lineup and it shows in the Ranger. The SYNC system worked well and all of the rest of the buttons and dials made sense and were pretty ergonomically friendly.
Day-to-day driving is just fine, it’s a decent commuter truck and on-pavement driving dynamics were fairly smooth and drama free.
However, returning to the comfort level, the ride kinda sucks. It felt much worse than my JKU Jeep, which is saying something. Not sure if that is due to the upgraded suspension, perhaps the tires? I would have to test another spec Ranger to know for sure. Also, I’m not sure what’s going on with the wind noise, perhaps it was due to wind passing over the side mirror? It was definitely loud at highway speed.
Like most auto stop/start systems, I also hate this one. The engine starts a bit to violently not to notice, so I left it switched off most of the time. It’s a bit of an annoyance to have to thumb the button each time you get going, but I find myself doing that on most press loaners these days.
For some reason the Ranger really lurches forward even when you take your foot off the brake, seems like an odd throttle calibration. There were times that I felt like I rocketed out of my driveway without even touching the gas.
Damn You Midsize!
So the Ranger has fit the mold of the other midsize trucks out there, which isn’t a big surprised since I’m sure it was bench-marked against them.
I’ve driven all of the important variations of the venerable class-favorite Toyota Tacoma. That includes the TRD, Limited, and TRD PRO. I’ve driven the new Jeep Gladiator, which I loved. But that’s a different animal since, you know, the doors and roof come off. I have not driven either of GM’s latest GMC Canyon or Chevrolet Colorado, so perhaps that would change my mind? I’d say, however, that I’ve driven a representative sample of the segment.
And I just don’t like it.
Why you ask? Well peppered through my previous reviews, you’ll see a trend of just not quite getting the point of the midsize truck. If you need a truck, there are dozens of variations of full size trucks to meet just about every need. The only thing a full size truck can’t do is be a little bit smaller. So, for the small percentage of people who live in our massive country who somehow can’t find parking a full size truck, a midsizer might make sense. I live and work around the D.C. area and tons of people I know have full size trucks. So I don’t buy the idea that a smaller truck is really necessary.
Plus, most midsize trucks nowadays are massively larger than they were back in the 1990s. So the argument that you need a midsize truck because they are small and nimble doesn’t really fly anyway. They aren’t really that much smaller than their full size cousins. The Ranger is about three feet shorter than an F-150 but it’s got a 5-foot bed vs. the F-150’s 8-foot bed.
So that brings me back to the Ranger. Just like the Tacoma, it’s not massively smaller, cheaper, more economical, or more practical than a full-size truck offered from the same company. As I noted, the as-tested price of this truck, $44,960, is near-as-it-makes-no-difference the same as a new 2020 Ford F-150 Lariat.
If you are looking to save a few bucks, and really want the Ranger, the XLT is pretty attractive option as well. I spec’d a great looking Lightning Blue 4×4 XLT Ranger with the black appearance package for just under $38,000. The base XL looks like a work truck complete with steelies, but it’s cheap!
I’ve noticed, painfully in some cases (read the YouTube comments on my Tacoma Limited review), that midsize truck fans are midsize truck fans and that’s that. They can’t always describe why, other than that they just don’t want a full size truck, which still makes me ponder why the segment exists. Which technically, Tacoma-aside, it didn’t exist before the Canyon, Colorado, Ranger, and Gladiator came onto (or back onto) the market.
I’m getting sidetracked. The Ranger isn’t bad, it’s just the segment that doesn’t make sense.