If you take a look around for a new small truck, you’re going to find yourself at a loss. Midsize trucks are much larger than they used to be. A Cheverolet Colorado with a crew cab and a long bed, for example, is just a little over a foot shorter than a Silverado 1500 with a crew cab and a standard bed. Midsize trucks aren’t small trucks anymore. It makes us miss true small trucks, and that immediately makes us think of the last generation of the Ford Ranger that was sold in the United States.

What Was It?

Ford Ranger

The last generation Ford Ranger was a basic, small pickup built with a body-on-frame design. It was powered by one of the following: a 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter Vulcan V6 or a 4.0-liter V6. The truck came with either a 5-speed manual or a 4 or 5-speed automatic transmission depending on the year and engine. It could tow up to about 5,800 lbs when equipped with the 4.0-liter V6 and up to almost 2,200 lbs with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder.

The Ranger could be had with a regular or extended cab. The extended cab had small jump seats that folded down from the wall and faced the center of the cabin. It also came with either rear or four-wheel drive and could be had in a few trim levels. In its last year, you had the choice of XL, XLT, or Sport. In its final years of production, the model managed 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder and a manual transmission, making it the most efficient pickup on the market at that time, according to Ford's brochure for the vehicle.

Why We Miss It

Ford Ranger

The last generation Ford Ranger in the United States was in production from 1998 to 2012. The model continued on outside of the U.S. and Ford kept developing and adding to it. If you look at Ford Rangers in the U.K. or Australia, you’ll see a very different vehicle than the last truck that bore the Ranger name in the U.S.

Ford recently announced it’s bringing the model back to the states, likely due to the success of the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, and the dated but still good Nissan Frontier. This new Ranger will be nothing like the old and that means we’ll still miss the little pickup. The Ranger was a simple and affordable truck. It was the kind of vehicle you didn’t mind throwing a load of gravel or dirt in because it wasn’t really all that nice to begin with. It was cheap transportation that came with a bed and a design that allowed you to tow and haul all kinds of stuff.

Ford Ranger

The Ranger made for a trusty handyman’s truck, and it didn’t try to be something it wasn’t. It was a truck built for a specific purpose and that was to help the everyday man tackle the tasks he needed to. In many ways, the last generation Ranger is the true regular guy’s truck. It’s the pickup truck your friend’s balding, mildly out of shape dad had. The kind of guy that knows how to take apart a lawnmower engine with his eyes closed but can’t do algebra to save his life.

We miss the Ranger because of what it was and what it represents. It’s a no-nonsense truck that doesn’t also try to be a family hauler like so many modern midsize pickups attempt to be. We see the merits of a pickup truck you can do everything with, but there’s something more honest and genuine about a truck that’s simply there to get work done. That's what the Ranger was all about, and that's why we miss it.

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