Ford is bringing back the Ranger after a very long hiatus, but the time is right. Now that journos have tested it, the reviews are in, and they're nothing less than glowing. In fact, the numbers show that the Ranger will be the most utilitarian midsize pickup truck in the segment, and that's saying a lot since the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, and even the unibody construction Honda Ridgeline are all pretty damned good in their own right. So, what's so great about the Ranger that everyone interested in a pickup truck of this size should be so interested?

ford ranger driving
YThe Ranger doesn't exhibit a revolutionary design, but it still looks good.

Well, the body of the Ranger is handsome, if not earth-shatteringly gorgeous. Ford kept things tasteful and didn't try to mimic the old Ranger, which was handsome for its time but no longer translates into modern times well. It also doesn't try to copy the larger F-150, opting for a cleaner front-end design that has its own unique grille and headlight treatment. It all looks very cohesive as a blend of rugged and civilized. The body is mildly sculpted but keeps things fairly conservative. 

Even though the Ranger has only one engine option right now, it's a good one. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine is good for 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The horsepower number isn't a pack leader, but the torque is thanks to turbocharging. It also gets a 10-speed automatic transmission, but no manual tranny is offered. The good thing is that the system is efficient with 21 city / 26 highway/ 23 combined and 22 combined for 4WD. It's the best in its class.

ford ranger grille close up

The Ranger also happens to win the towing and hauling contest with 7,500 pounds of towing power in any trim and 1,860 pounds of payload (in four-door, two-wheel drive configuration), more than the Tacoma and the Colorado. To maximize towing, you have to get the optional tow package with brake controller, but that's a mere $495 and more than worth it.

ford ranger rear

Those who have tested it say the Ranger is good on road but does have a truck-like feel. That's not a bad thing since it trades off a car-like driving experience like the unibody Ridgeline in order to have body-on-frame ruggedness. Critics make mention of the Ranger's quick acceleration and good passing power, which is something that trucks like the base 152-horsepower Nissan Frontier lacks. The fact that the Ranger gets a sophisticated 10-speed automatic that downshifts quickly but also upshifts for maximum gas mileage. Reviewers have also remarked at its well-weighted steering. We can't wait to see for ourselves. 

ford ranger rear 34

In terms of off-road prowess, buyers can opt for the FX4 off-road package that provides skid plates in front and back, more rugged tires, an electronic rear diff lock, and a sweet terrain management that allows you to select Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand settings. There's even a trail control system that manages throttle control. The suspension, power, and body stiffness are reportedly excellent on off-road courses. Ground clearance is 8.9 inches, and the Ranger has an approach angle of 28.7, a breakover of 25.4, and a departure of 21.5 degrees. It's not class-leading but still quite good.

ford ranger cabin

The one sore spot in the mix, apparently, is the interior. Ford isn't exactly known for top-notch interiors (unless you pay for an F-150 King Ranch), so this doesn't come as a total surprise. Of course, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is superb in terms of looks and operation, but the cabin is on the dull side according to most critics. At least there's an eight-inch touchscreen on higher trim levels, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

ford ranger seats

When the 2019 Ford Ranger goes on sale, it will come in three trim levels known as XL, XLT and Lariat. There will also be two configurations: a two-door SuperCab with a six-foot bet and a four-door SuperCrew with a five-foot bed. Drivetrains will include both rear or four-wheel drive. We're not sure which trim or configuration we'll get to test out, but we'll soon provide a full review of the new Ranger.