|Positives: Tremor Package changes the Ranger into a truly desirable truck, looks match the driving experience, class-leading 7,500-lb towing capacity, great SYNC 3 infotainment system.|
|Negatives: Ergonomically challenged, too much dark plastic inside, pointless side steps get in the way.|
|Bottom Line: The Ranger's appeal and overall driving experience are dramatically improved with the Tremor Package, to the point where it changes the way we think about the Ranger. It could still use vas interior improvements, but it's quite a bit better than non-Tremor versions.|
The addition of bigger tires and improved suspension really do alter the way the Ranger drives. In this form, the Ranger is at its best in terms of the driving experience, and the new components match the gutsy EcoBoost engine very nicely.
Ride Quality: Gone is the jostling and jarring from the standard Ranger, now that new shocks and tires make it compliant and comfortable.
Acceleration: The torquey and turbocharged engine provides quick sprints to 60 mph, in about 7 seconds. That beats the Colorado ZR2 but the 4WD Ranger is slower than the 2WD version by a couple of tenths of a second.
Braking: The brakes are strong and modulate well, but they're mitigated by the bigger tires that lengthen stopping distances. There's no mushiness in the pedal and very little nose dive that we noticed.
Steering: The steering is light and lacks feedback, but it's on-center and turn-in is good.
Handling: The new suspension and bigger tires manage roadholding duties much better. Body roll is palpable, but the Ranger Tremor feels in control and better balanced than the Ranger Lariat we drove last year. The change is like night and day.
We continue to applaud Ford's SYNC 3 system. While it's not the fanciest looking, it works well because of its simplicity and responsiveness. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. The brilliant upfitter switches located atop the dash provide pre-wiring for items such as compressors, winches, and additional lighting.
Infotainment System: The 8" screen is a good enough size. The screen is clear, and the responsiveness is excellent. Pairing to devices is super-quick too.
Controls: The climate control system needs improvement in terms of ergonomics and location. They're too small to operate easily while driving. The audio knobs are large but hard to grip due to the slick chrome coating. Also, we really dislike the manual shift buttons located on the side of the shift knob. They're not intuitive or well-placed.
There's nothing impressive about the base Ranger's styling. It's rather conventional in terms of shape and styling elements, but the addition of the Tremor package totally alters the appearance thanks to the added lift, bigger tires, and the black trim bits give it the rugged looks it really needed.
Front: The black bumper that replaces the Lariat's body colored version gives the Ranger a tougher maw that matches the body trim and wheels.
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 upsized tires and taller suspension setup pair nicely with the black fender trim and the side steps.
Cabin: The Ranger's interior still isn't great, even with the Tremor seat embroidery. There's too much dark plastic, and the dash is still too thick and clunky for our liking.
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 big AT tires rumble.
Visibility: The visibility is pretty good thanks to manageable pillar size and a low hoodline.
Climate: Although 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: Our tester came 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.
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. Our numbers were hampered by the heavier suspension and larger tires.
Observed: 17.3 mpg.
Distance Driven: 86 miles.
Our tester didn't come with the optional B&O premium sound system, but it was still decent and easily passable as a good stock system. There was no distortion at higher volumes, but bass could have been better.