|Positives: Solid in-car tech, uniquely styled though oonservative, potent powertrain, right-sized for most buyers|
|Negatives: Looks and feels dated inside, climate controls are hard to decipher while driving, numbing to drive.|
|Bottom Line: The Ranger is welcomed in this growing segment, but the fact that it was introduced years earlier at the global level means it's already showing its age. It's still powerful, capable, and pleasant to drive, but if it's going to be the leader of the mid-size pickup segment, it'll have to be seriously refreshed. There are better choices in this set.|
Despite the fact that there's only one engine choice in the Ranger, the engine is strong and smooth. The turbocharge four-cylinder provides on-demand power, and it's one of the best in the segment. Driving dynamics, however, betray the engine with poor responses and a dulled experience.
Ride Quality: It's cushy and absorbs pretty much anything you throw at it but only in a straight line. It feels strangely unsettled when going over uneven pavement or gaps while turning. At those points, it's all too easy for the Ranger to feel disconnected from the road surface.
Acceleration: The Ranger is powerful and gets to 60 mph in about 7.3 seconds, pretty quick for the segment. It's faster than the Colorado V6 and the Tacoma V6.
Braking: The brakes are mushy, and there's some noticeable nose dive with longer than average stopping distances.
Steering: The steering on the Ranger is light and on the vague side, but at least it's on center and stays that way at highway speeds. There is pretty much a total absence of feedback, unfortunately.
Handling: There's a lot of body roll in the high-riding truck, and the chassis and suspension err on the side of softness, which does the Ranger no favors in the turns.
Good thing Ford put the SYNC 3 in the Ranger Lariat because it's one of the best systems in the industry. It also comes standard with a vivid 8" touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Infotainment System: The 8" screen is the right size for this truck, and menus and responsiveness are excellent.
Controls: The climate control system's buttons are a bit hard to read and they're not placed well, making for misfires while driving. A little bit of a border between them and better legibility would help. Also, there are physical infotainment shortcut buttons, which would reduce distraction.
The Ranger is a cleanly styled truck, but we won't call it eye-catching. The good thing is that it's distinct in the segment and doesn't try too hard to be dramatic. That said, there's nothing about it that stands out in terms of noticeable styling elements. The interior, while generally clean, is a bit on the boring side.
Front: The blackened grille and lower fascia add to the Ranger's rugged appearance, as well as the deeply contoured/creased hood. It looks great from this angle.
Rear: The lip the top of the tailgate is a nice touch, and the embossed 'Ranger' lettering is bold and prominent. The big taillights also look good and extend almost the full height of the ends of the bedsides.
Profile: This is probably the Ranger's worst view. The hood looks long, and the overall shape is a bit nondescript.
Cabin: We're rarely impressed by Ford interiors, and this is where the Ranger's age shows itself with cheap plastics, dark coloring, and so-so ergonomics.
In Supercrew configuration, the cabin is pretty sizable for a party of four adults. Five is pushing it, but it can be managed. The front seats are very good, and visibility overall is decent.
Front Seats: Big, supportive, and comfortable with good adjustability, the front occupants will ride in comfort.
Rear Seats: Good cushioning, but the upright seatbacks don't do rear passengers any favors.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It could use more sound deadening inside because you can hear the FX4 trimmed knobby tires on the road.
Visibility: The visiblity is pretty good, and the cameras also lend a proper hand while negotiating tight spots.
Climate: Though the controls for HVAC are a little frustrating, the overall airflow is good, and the system works quickly.
The Ranger does pretty well in safety tests but fails to nab the top spots from the IIHS and NHTSA. The level of safety tech is quite good, and it actually could be a serious consideration for families.
IIHS Rating: It does very well in crash tests, except for the "acceptable" in the front passenger small overlap test. It also gets "marginal" for headlights and LATCH ease of use. The Ranger does get "superior" for front crash prevention equipment.
NHTSA Rating: It gets 4 out of 5 stars from the feds due to the front passenger crash and the rollover risk.
Standard Tech: The Lariat trim comes with BLIS with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping System, and a backup camera.
Optional Tech: Our tester came with an Adaptive Cruise Control system. We had trouble engaging it in highway traffic at 40 mph. It didn't seem to respond and only accelerated to the set speed and said it could not activate the adaptive system.
The Ranger in Supercrew configuration sacrifices some bed capacity for interior passenger and cargo space, which will be good for families or those who regularly carry passngers.
Storage Space: The cabin has some nice cubbies for small gear storage. There's a moderately deep tray atop the dash, an open and angled cubby under the center stack, and a nicely-sized armrest.
Cargo Room: The Supercrew loses one foot of bed space (61.0 inches x 44.8 inches x 20.8 inches), totalling 43.4 cubic feet of bed volume.
The turbocharged four-cylinder is strong but thirsty when driven in a semi-spirited manner. We didn't even come close to the 22 mpg combined even when driving it 50/50 on local roads and the highway to the office.
Observed: 14.9 mpg.
Distance Driven: 98 miles.
For $1,795 we got the audio upgrade to Bang & Olufsen's 10-speaker system, along with nav, etc. It's a good system that sounds nice, but we can't say it was noticeably better than some stock systems we've listened to. There was no distortion, but the system just didn't wow us.