The Ranger is new for the US market, but not as new as you'd think.
Ford hasn't competed in the mid-size pickup truck segment since the Ranger left the US market back in 2011. While a new Ranger has returned for the 2019 model year, the truck isn't as new as you'd expect. This fourth-generation Ranger (codenamed the T6) has been on the market in other parts of the world since 2011, meaning it is already showing some signs of age. In fact, Ford is already working on the next-generation Ranger, which is expected to arrive in 2022.
Before the new Ranger arrives, we had a chance to drive the current model for a week, There are plenty of elements we like about it but the Ranger isn't perfect and we have some recommendations for the next-generation model.
This generation Ranger may have been introduced over seven years ago but the styling looks modern next to its competitors in the mid-size truck segment. Ford has made some tweaks to the design for the US, creating what we feel is one of the most handsome mid-size trucks around. Our tester was particularly attractive with a cool shade of Lightning Blue and the Sport Appearance Package with Magnetic Grey accents. If we were to order a Ranger for ourselves, this is the exact exterior combination we would choose.
Tweaking the styling has kept the Ranger looking fresh but there are still places where the truck's old bones poke through. Ford's Sync3 infotainment is starting to feel its age, so hopefully, the next-generation Ranger gets the company's new Sync4 system. This generation Ranger also has the same gauge cluster we hated in the Edge ST, which annoyingly splits important information between two small screens on either side of the speedometer.
Although the Ranger has plenty of safety tech compared to its competitors, some of these features aren't as advanced as other Ford models. For example, the Ranger's adaptive cruise control can not bring the truck to a full stop in traffic.
Full-size trucks have mostly moved on from their utilitarian roots to become comfortable daily runabouts. Mid-size trucks, on the other hand, can be quite stiff and unrefined in some instances. The Ranger, luckily, does not suffer from this issue. The ride is smooth and the steering is light, meaning the truck is easy to negotiate in tight parking lots. We enjoyed the seat comfort in our Lariat trim tester and we'd much prefer to drive the Ranger on a long highway journey compared to the Toyota Tacoma we tested earlier this year.
The top F-150 trims offer enough creature comforts to consider one over an expensive luxury sedan but the mid-size Ranger isn't quite as nice. Our top Lariat trim was fitted with leather seats and improved interior materials but there are still plenty of hard plastic surfaces inside and the feeling is even worse on lower trims. We hope Ford brings some of the comfort features from its larger F-150 down to the Ranger in the next generation.
Ford only offers the Ranger with one engine and transmission option in the US: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque going out to a 10-speed automatic. This powertrain feels much quicker than the V6 found in the Tacoma and is capable of towing up to 7,500 pounds, which is class-leading. We wish there was a manual option, but it seems like fewer trucks in this segment are continuing to offer one.
We understand why Ford didn't go through the trouble of bringing the Raptor model to the US, given the amount of development work that would have been required on an already aging truck platform. But there are rumors that the next-generation Ranger will spawn a Raptor model in the US, known internally as "Project Redback." The global market Ranger Raptor is powered by a twin-turbo diesel engine, which likely wouldn't sell well here. But we hope and expect that the next-generation Raptor will make it stateside.