|Positives: Great engine, attractive with upgrades, infotainment system rocks, spacious Supercrew configuration.|
|Negatives: Unengaging driving experience, cheap interior bits, mediocre braking distances.|
|Bottom Line: The Ranger gets dressed up a bit with optional black trim, which helps the looks of this midsizer. It's too bad the interior lacks a commensurate look, and the driving experience falls short. Its saving grace is the powerful turbo-four and a good infotainment system. Otherwise, you might be better off shopping elsewhere.|
The Ranger is a bit of a disappointment to drive, saved only by its capable engine and the FX4 locking differential. Otherwise, it's not especially engaging and actually pretty numb compared to the likes of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Braking was, likewise, unimpressive.
Ride Quality: The Ranger is compliant over most surfaces but then starts to feel unsettled on irregular pavement and on gaps while in sweeping turns.
Acceleration: The EcoBoost engine is potent, taking the Ranger to 60 mph in about 7.3 seconds, pretty quick for the segment. It's quicker in the sprint than Colorado V6 and the Tacoma V6, and the transmission shifts well.
Braking: The ranger stops from 60 mph to 0 in a long 127 feet, compared to the Tacoma's 112 feet. That's a significant difference, and the pedal is mushy, to boot.
Steering: The steering light and numb in terms of feel, but at least it's on center.
Handling: There's a lot of body roll, and the turning requires some planning given the softness of the suspension setup. It lacks the confidence of the Ridgeline.
In-truck tech for the Ranger is very good thanks to the excellent SYNC 3 system. There's not much else in the Ranger that wows, but at least the infotainment is top-notch. Alos, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
Infotainment System: The 8" screen might not be huge, but it's vivid, easy to read, and SYNC3 is very responsive.
Controls: The climate control system's buttons are hard to read and poorly located lower in front of the shifter. They're also small and thin, which make them tough to press while moving. The audio knobs are large, but the slippery chrome surfaces could use some knurling for better grip. We also loathe the upshift and downshift buttons on the side of the shift knob.
The shape of the Ranger is pretty pedestrian and lacks the rugged look of the revised Ridgline or the Tacoma. At least with the Black appearance package, the Ranger looks tougher than stock.
Front: The optional black trim all over helps the look of the Ranger. The dark grille and lower fascia help the front end look mean, and the hood creases are a nice touch.
Front: Bold, embossed 'Ranger' lettering looks good sandwiched between bold taillights. The curved lip at the top of the tailgate looks nice, too.
Profile: The bigger tires, black wheels, and the black running boards help an otherwise bland shape.
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, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Reverse Sensing, and a Rearview Camera
Optional Tech: Our tester came with an Adaptive Cruise Control system, which we did not get to test.
The Ranger in Supercrew configuration sacrifices some bed capacity for interior passenger and cargo space, which will be good for families. In terms of interior storage, there are some solid options that make daily use convenient.
Storage Space: There's a moderately deep tray atop the dash, an open and angled cubby under the center stack, and a nicely-sized armrest. The rear seat folds up for additional storage, which is very convenient.
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 powerful, and we were able to get good mpg numbers this time around with mostly local driving. We were much closer to the EPA estimates than we were when we drove the Ranger in 2019.
Observed: 20.4 mpg.
Distance Driven: 122 miles.
The B&O 10-speaker system will cost you $2,005 as part of the 501A package. It's not particularly impressive, as we found when we tested the Ranger in 2019, but it's decent. If you want SYNC3 and navigation, the sound system comes with it, so we guess it's not terrible to have.