To say the return of the Ford Ranger within the US has been hotly anticipated can be an enormous understatement. The fervor surrounding Ford’s midsize pickup is the type normally reserved for sports activities vehicles like a brand new Mustang or GT.

However the fact is, fanatics have genuinely missed the Ranger. And with the midsize pickup section boasting a complete crop of latest entries, the time is true for Ford to carry its well-loved pickup again.

Two cabs, one engine

At launch, the 2019 Ford Ranger will probably be out there in three trims: XL, XLT and Lariat. You possibly can spec your Ranger in two-door SuperCab guise with a six-foot guess, or go for the four-door SuperCrew fashion and get a five-foot mattress. Rear- or four-wheel drive are supplied, and there are 4 totally different look packages.

Each US-spec Ranger is powered by a 2.Three-liter EcoBoost I4 engine, placing out 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado (and its GMC Canyon twin) have extra horsepower with their V6 engines, however the Ranger’s turbo engine provides more healthy torque output, which is best for low-end grunt and gasoline effectivity. If you would like extra torque in a midsize truck, you must shell out for the diesel engine within the Common Motors pickups.

A 10-speed computerized transmission will get that energy to the pavement. No guide gearbox is offered. This contemporary transmission is borrowed from the bigger F-150 and the result’s superior gasoline financial system. Two-wheel-drive Rangers are rated at 21 miles per gallon within the metropolis, 26 mpg freeway and 23 mpg mixed, whereas including four-wheel drive knocks these numbers right down to 20, 24 and 22, respectively. Evaluate that 22-mpg 4WD mixed score to 20 mpg for a equally outfitted Tacoma, 19 mpg for a Colorado or 17 mpg for the old-as-dirt Nissan Frontier. The Ranger’s gasoline financial system is even barely higher than the unibody Honda Ridgeline, which may’t match the Ford’s off-road or towing capabilities.

The Ranger has a most payload of 1,860 kilos in four-door, two-wheel-drive spec — that is 200 kilos greater than the Tacoma. Heck, even the four-wheel-drive Ranger with the least quantity of payload capability (1,560 kilos) is simply 14 kilos beneath the utmost hauling capability of the Chevy Colorado.

When it comes time to hook up a trailer, the Ranger will tow 7,500 kilos, no matter drivetrain or cab configuration. In fact, that is should you spec the elective tow bundle with brake controller — a $495 improve I would fortunately embrace.

Drives like a truck

This check drive takes place in and across the larger San Diego space, beginning with an extended stretch of on-road driving earlier than heading to some off-road proving grounds. The Ranger will get in control rapidly and has greater than sufficient mid-range punch to cross slower drivers on the freeway. The strong axle within the rear means the Ranger is not the smoothest factor on 4 wheels — of us who like a “trucky” trip seemingly will not thoughts. Other than the unibody Ridgeline, although, the Ranger has a trip high quality not in contrast to each different midsize pickup.

The two.Three-liter EcoBoost engine delivers strong energy, and the 10-speed computerized transmission is nice.

Ford

As soon as I hit some twisty backroads, the 10-speed computerized exhibits its refinement. You would possibly assume this factor would continually be trying to find the precise gear, however no, the Ranger’s transmission tuning is superb, downshifting easily to eke out extra energy from the engine, upshifting to high gear when acceptable for optimum effectivity. The 10-speed will sometimes execute a harsh downshift beneath braking, nevertheless it’s a small weak spot in an in any other case flawless gearbox.

On these winding roads, the Ranger handles the varied bends such as you’d anticipate from a pickup. The physique rolls a bit, and the softer suspension setup of my FX4 tester makes it a bit bouncy over pockmarked pavement. The steering has good weight to its motion, even when there is not a complete lot of communication via the wheel. Actually, the Ranger feels as good to drive — if not a bit of bit extra mature — than its Chevy and Toyota rivals.

Off-roads like a professional

Whereas a lot of the Ranger’s look packages are merely beauty upgrades, the FX4 off-road pack has some precise efficiency beneficial properties. Most significantly — particularly for folk like me who are inclined to say “Watch this!” and go scrambling over some rocks — the FX4 provides full skid plate safety entrance and rear. An digital rear differential locker is on the docket, as effectively. A terrain administration system is included on FX4 fashions, with Regular, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand drive settings. Lastly, a path management system is available to assist with throttle management on difficult, slow-speed paths.

Go for the FX4 bundle and you will get some legit off-road upgrades.

Ford

On the Ford-designed off-road course, the Ranger FX4 will get the job carried out with ease. First I am scrambling round an off-camber flip, then I am heading up a steep climb, the latter displaying the complete pulling energy of the turbo engine’s 310 pound-feet of torque. The suspension simply soaks up the bumps via a rutted wash, and the Ranger maneuvers via a banked S-turn like a professional. Over staggered ruts, the Ranger flexes like a champ and retains on going with out pause.

The FX4 pack provides tires with beefier tread, however they’re solely a tiny bit larger than the usual tire — 31 inches, in comparison with 30.6. A bigger tire would assist off-road geometry significantly. Because it stands, the Ranger has strategy, breakover and departure angles of 28.7, 25.four and 21.5 levels, respectively, with eight.9 inches of floor clearance. That is not unhealthy, however the Tacoma TRD Professional’s 35.Zero-degree strategy and 23.9-degree departure angles are a lot better.

Nonetheless, the Ranger dealt with this (once more, Ford-designed) off-road course with aplomb. I would like to take it out to the dunes to see the way it negotiates tender sand, however my first impression is that the FX4 pack is nice for folk who will do mild to average off-roading. If you happen to’re seeking to the Ranger for soiled stuff, you are in all probability higher off shopping for a base mannequin and upfitting it with aftermarket goodies. Or, , purchase an F-150 Raptor. Ford makes a Ranger Raptor, however presently has no plans to carry it Stateside (regardless of my pleading).

Ford’s Sync Three infotainment rocks, however the remainder of the Ranger’s inside is common at greatest.

Ford

Bland inside, however a number of onboard tech

Inside, you will discover a fantastic suite of tech, beginning with the Sync Three infotainment system from different new Fords, housed in an eight-inch touchscreen on increased trim ranges, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Ranger has quite a lot of driver’s aids, too, with blind-spot monitoring that may see the size of the truck and a trailer, computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping help. Adaptive cruise management can also be out there, nevertheless it disengages beneath 12 miles per hour, making it ineffective in stop-and-go site visitors (the place, by the way, I wish to use it most).

Total, the Ranger’s cabin makes use of supplies which might be fairly common, at greatest. The general design is fairly easy and simple, however a number of the switchgear makes this truck really feel like one thing from Ford’s previous, not current. The entrance seats are tremendous comfortable, with elective warmth, even with material upholstery. The Ranger trumps the Tacoma with rear legroom, boasting an additional two inches of get-comfy area, however back-seat passengers nonetheless would possibly discover themselves a bit cramped.

The Ranger has a towing capability of seven,500 kilos, no matter drivetrain or cab configuration.

Ford

An extremely well-rounded pickup

2019 Ford Ranger pricing begins at $25,395, together with $1,095 vacation spot, for a 4×2 SuperCab XL. My tester, in the meantime — a SuperCrew 4×4 Lariat — is available in at $39,480. And that is earlier than you go for the $1,295 FX4 pack.

The brand new Ford Ranger is not an ideal midsize pickup. The inside is not the perfect, the tailgate slams down if you open it, and there is just one engine choice. Besides, the Ranger excels with its nice energy, best-in-class towing and payload and stellar gasoline financial system in addition. Taken as a complete, the Ranger actually seems like probably the most well-rounded midsize truck out there right this moment.

For many who’ve been ready, you will not be upset.

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