With the hype around the all-new Ford Ranger and the history behind its badge name, we assumed the demand for this truck would be extraordinary right out of the gate. That’s why we were surprised when the Nissan Frontier, which hasn’t seen a full redesign in 15 years, more than doubled the Ford Ranger’s sales in Q1 of 2019. According to Motor Trend, Nissan sold 20,221 Frontiers compared to only 9,421 Rangers sold by Ford. Does this prove that you don't always need something shiny and new for good sales? Let's compare the two trucks to find out. 

 2019 Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger Sideimage: Ford

The Ford Ranger is a mid-size pickup truck that brings back the wildly successful Ranger badge from 1983-2011. Some estimates predict there are about 2 million original Rangers still on the road. With the popularity of pickup trucks showing no signs of slowing down, Ford decided to reenter the midsize truck segment with the 2019 Ranger.

ford ranger towing

The all-new truck was already available in Europe but has been tweaked for the U.S. market with an upgraded steel frame and revamped body. A towing capacity of 7,500 lbs and a payload of 1,860 lbs is impressive for the mid-size segment. Under the hood is a 2.3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that delivers 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Ranger offers a SuberCab and SuperCrew configuration and three trim levels (XL, XLT, and Lariat). When it comes to technology, the Ranger won't leave the driver wishing for much more with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, Alexa interface, and navigation. The 4G LTE Wifi can connect to 10 devices. The Ford Ranger has a starting MSRP of $25,395.

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Nissan Frontier

Nissan Frontier

After driving it for a day, we dubbed the Nissan Frontier the capable dinosaur. The original Frontier debuted in 2004 as a 2005 model and not much has changed since. The Frontier is available in crew cab, king cab and crew cab long bed with either 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains. Engine options include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque or a 4.0-liter V6 engine for 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque.

The V6 engine gives the Frontier the ability to tow up to 6,710 lbs and haul 1,430 lbs. The fact that the Ranger beats out the Frontier in both towing and payload capacities but the Frontier still came out on top for sales may indicate that the typical mid-size truck buyer isn't towing or hauling all that much.

Nissan Frontier Techimage: Nissan

As can be expected in a dated vehicle, the tech in the Nissan Frontier is lagging behind the competition. If you go with the base S trim, the experience will feel stripped down with just an FM/AM/CD stereo system, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera. Upgrading to the top trim offers a still small 5.8-inch touchscreen with navigation, NissanConnect infotainment system with mobile apps and voice recognition, Sirius XM Radio, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and remote keyless entry.

The price tag of the Frontier is what really sets it apart. The starting MSRP is only $19,090 which is the most affordable in the midsize truck segment and provides over $6,000 of savings compared to the Ford Ranger. Could it be that a basic but capable dinosaur at an affordable price is more appealing than a shiny new truck with the latest features, tech, and styling? We'll be keeping an eye out to see how the sales numbers will look once the redesigned Frontier finally makes an appearance as a 2020 model. 

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