The Ford Ranger is somewhere in between a work truck and a "lifestyle truck." It can comfortably fill either role, which gives it unique appeal but also a bit of an identity crisis. Towing and hauling are strong for the class, but the Ranger is held back by a poor suspension and an unremarkable cabin. A redesign is due to land soon.
The current version of the Ford Ranger has only been in North America for a handful of years, but it feels old. That's because it is—although it wasn't sold on our shores, the Ranger did overseas duty throughout the 2010s.
It still has its virtues, with capability chief among them. The turbo-four powertrain provides ready torque and excellent towing power (max 7,500 pounds). Payload capability is also impressive at a max 1,860 pounds. Plus, the Ranger's beds are the most capacious in the class. Safety tech is good for a truck, although well short of what a Honda Ridgeline provides.
The party is spoiled by an utterly disappointing chassis. The ride is underdamped and easily unsettled, which creates an uncomfortable feeling that you never stop bouncing. Brake feel is poor, and steering is slow. Trucks are not known for their handling prowess, but the Ranger is far from Ford's best effort.
It isn't helped by a dated infotainment system and mundane design. If you plan to put the Ranger to work, it's still a solid feature-per-dollar value for a midsize truck, particularly if you opt for the Tremor version, which offers more off-road capability and happens to be the best driving version of the Ranger.
Still, it may be worth waiting for the upcoming redesign. Our advice to Ford? Keep the engine and transmission, but offer a more refined interior, smoother ride, and better driving dynamics.
Unlike many of its competitors, the Ford Ranger makes do with a single powertrain, and it doesn't even have six cylinders. The 2.3-liter turbo-four makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft, and it stacks up well against rivals such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Honda Ridgeline. The torque is readily available low in the rev range, and it's enough to tow up to 7,500 pounds. A ten-speed automatic is the only transmission. The EPA estimates fuel efficiency at 21/26 mpg city/highway for rear-wheel drive models, or 20/24 with all-wheel drive (2021 figures).
The Ranger slots in between two other Ford trucks: the compact Maverick and the versatile F-150.
The Maverick is an interesting choice. Despite being smaller than the Ranger, its crew cab has more rear legroom. It isn't too far behind on payload, and it's shockingly efficient. The Maverick's downsides are a short bed and a maximum towing capacity of 4,000 pounds.
The F-150 moves in the opposite direction. It's more expensive than the Ranger, but it offers more powertrain options, including a hybrid. It has more passenger space, better hauling capacities, and modern infotainment.
The current Ranger is left fighting for territory. For light duty or city driving, the Maverick is more efficient and capable enough for many. For use on a work site, we'd rather have the F-150. Until the Ranger's cabin and ride improve, we'd look to Ford's newer trucks.
In NHTSA crash testing, the 2022 Ranger SuperCrew earned an overall safety score of four out of five stars. This score consists of four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and three stars in the rollover evaluation. When tested by the IIHS, the 2021 Ranger earned Good scores in all crashworthiness categories except the passenger-side small overlap front crash test; it earned Acceptable in this category.
Automatic emergency braking comes standard on every trim, and the IIHS rated the system "Superior" in vehicle-to-vehicle testing. Blind-spot monitors, lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams come with higher trims.
Like the Chevrolet Colorado, the Ranger offers 5-foot and 6-foot bed options. The two are comparable in legroom, although neither is what we'd call spacious.
Bed Volume (5-foot/6-foot):
2022 Ranger: 43.3/51.8 cubic feet
2022 Colorado: 41.3/49.9 cubic feet
Rear Legroom (extended/crew cab):
2022 Ranger: 30.4/34.5 inches
2022 Colorado: 28.6/35.8 inches
The base XL trim starts with only a radio, Bluetooth, and a USB charging port. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with Ford's Sync software is available as an option, and it's standard on all other trims.
The system is slower than modern competitors, and the graphics could use an update. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. Moving up the ladder also adds extra speakers, and the top Lariat trim can have a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The Ranger is available in three basic trims, two of which can be upgraded with the off-roading Tremor package. When added to the XLT trim, the Tremor is cheaper than counterparts like the Colorado ZR2 or Tacoma TRD Pro.
For most buyers, however, the base XL trim is the best buy. The Ranger's greatest virtues — towing, payload, and efficiency — don't depend on trim. The interior is never going to impress, so you may as well maximize your value. We would recommend upgrading the infotainment system, though.
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