- P​hotos: Kurt Bradley

The 2​020 Ford Ranger Is All The Truck You'll Ever Need

H​uge, tech-loaded, expensive trucks are all the rage, but do you really need that?

5w ago

B​ig, complicated, and pricey. The truck marketplace is full of headline grabbers that offer physical dimensions that are growing as quickly as the sticker price, but does the average driver really need a $70,000 pickup with all sorts of gadgetry and hardcore capabilities? Ford knows that there are buyers that need a reasonable truck, that's small enough to maneuver easily, but still has plenty of kit to tackle damn near any job they'll throw at it.

T​he Ford Ranger has been around since well before most of this site's readers were born. Compared to the F-250 Super Duty Tremor I tested, the Ranger offers more reasonable pricing without sacrificing much in the way of capability. The Ranger slots into Ford's lineup as a smart option for drivers who want a vehicle that can handle more than a crossover while not overextending their budget. Getting access to all sorts of trucks in the Texas press fleet, I wanted to see if a smaller, simpler pickup was worthy of some praise.

T​he Core Specs

All current Ford Rangers are given the trusty 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, packing 270 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 310 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 RPM. With two-wheel-drive and an open rear differential as the standard drivetrain, Ford offers the Ranger with four-wheel-drive and an optional electric locking rear differential for either setup, all of which are driven by a 10-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel estimates are 21/26/23 (city/highway/combined), and with an 18-gallon tank, you'll get decent range on regular unleaded.

In FX2 spec (as my tester was equipped), Ford throws in a set of bigger 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tires, and gives the rear differential an electronic locking option. FX4 models get 18-inchers to go with the four-wheel-drive setup. Body style options are either a two-door SuperCab with seating for four or a four-door SuperCrew with space for five. SuperCab Rangers get a six-foot bed, and SuperCrew models get a five-foot box.

At 210 inches long, 78 inches wide, and 70 tall, the Ranger boasts a 126-inch wheelbase and 61-inch track front and rear. My SuperCrew tester tipped the scales at 4,232 pounds, and opting for four-wheel-drive adds about 200 pounds to the curb weight. Base price for the 2020 Ford Ranger is $30,635, and the MSRP for my Lightning Blue SuperCrew XLT with the FX2 package was a reasonable $37,290.

G​ood For Daily Duty

The Ford Ranger's cabin is a pretty basic place to spend your commute, but everything is intuitive. The EcoBoost four-cylinder is punchy, and the 10-speed automatic's close ratios help the Ranger provide quick acceleration in any rev range. Steering is electronically assisted to make your efforts easier, but the sensations are positive and not too light. Turning radius is 42 feet, which isn't terrible for a mid-sized pickup. The Ranger's suspension is nicely sprung for daily driving, but noticeably firmer than your basic crossover.

Cloth seats don't look exciting, but the support and comfort are good. R​unning around town, the Ranger is quick and nimble, which is surprising for a truck. S​ticking two adult friends in the back seat won't be punishment, as the Ranger's legroom in the back is decent, but I won't suggest stuffing a third friend in the folding back bench seat, as the hip room isn't massive.

With a five-foot box out back, you've got plenty of cargo space and a 1,770-pound payload capacity for hauling anything you load up from your local home improvement store. Ford's ToughBed spray-in bedliner is a must-have option for $495. If you need to haul anything with your Ranger, spend another $495 to add 7,500 pounds of towing capacity.

G​reat At Getting Dirty

I​f your weekends involve playing on less than smooth surfaces, you'll have a blast in the Ranger. Ford gives the Ranger a pretty basic suspension with an independent setup in the front, and a live axle with leaf springs and outboard shocks out back, but that doesn't make it suck. Sporting eight inches of ground clearance, with 28º, 25º, and 22º approach, departure, and breakover angles, respectively, the mid-sized Ford also has a 36-inch front overhang and a 48-inch overhang in the rear.

A​ll-terrain Hankook tires gave me no trouble when I was playing on gravel or dirt, and when I took the Ranger over some chunkier stuff, I wasn't sweating the fact that I didn't have the front wheels doing extra work. A quick button tap to engage the rear locking differential was nice when I wanted a little extra grip, and I may have employed it to throw around a few dirt donuts.

The Ranger isn't exactly a Land Rover Defender, but it won't stress during some decent off-road exercise. If you want to take your Ranger on bigger adventures with a bit more challenge off-road, definitely spend a little more for the four-wheel-drive package. Most drivers aren't going to go nuts with off-road excursions, and the two-wheel-drive setup will do just fine.

S​ome Pros And Cons

W​ith just-right dimensions inside and out, the Ford Ranger is easy to own in the city. Parallel parking it is a breeze, and you never feel like you're in something that's too big to drive around in a congested area. Exterior styling isn't over the top, and I like the gunmetal finish on the optional 17-inch wheels.

T​he Ford Ranger packs some good tech. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on board, Ford's Sync 3 infotainment gets a nice upgrade to its reasonably-sized touchscreen. A pair of USB ports ahead of the shifter are met with a small cubby for tossing your phone when it's plugged in, and there's an LTE hotspot on-board if you need to get some work done on the road. Ford gave the Ranger adaptive cruise control and sensing systems front and rear, to keep you from bumping into anything.

O​n a less than favorable note, the Ranger's spartan interior is a bit dated. The steering wheel, gauge cluster, and center console are from the Ford parts been that has been supplying lower-end Blue Oval products for over a decade. Extensive use of cheaper materials for the dash and door panels is apparent, and the feel of those surfaces isn't great. Then again, if Ford went wild giving the Ranger better materials and dedicated designs, the price point would go up dramatically. Keeping the Ranger affordable yet capable had to include some compromises.

The Reasonable Pickup That Gets The Job Done

There are more exciting, more capable, and more expensive trucks getting all the accolades and padding manufacturers' balance sheets, but the ordinary buyer doesn't really need the big hitting full-size offerings. Sometimes people just need a hint of versatility and capability that you can't get in a crossover while not having to commit to a massive monthly payment over an extended term loan.

F​ord gives buyers a good smart-sized pickup for a reasonable price, and there's not much the Ranger can't do. Considering it costs about the same as a compact crossover that doesn't offer much more inside, the Ranger is a great buy that can tackle just about anything you want to throw at it.

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Comments (25)

  • Right up until I need to tow my 10,000lb 30’ Airstream. Then the F150 makes the most sense.

      1 month ago
    • Yeah, but you’re a buyer that justifies why full-size trucks exist. You have to agree that plenty of people who buy an F-150 don’t *need* its space and capability. They just *want* a big truck.

        1 month ago
    • Yes, I agree 100%. It’s unfortunate that the light duty truck has almost disappeared.

        1 month ago
  • Nice review, and I think that the Ranger is a much cooler more practical and better option to a crossover, also fuel economy isn't bad. It is a great looking truck, and that EcoBoost is a great engine. I think that the FX2 is probably the best one for me, I love the prerunner look, and its 2wd so I'll be able to fling it around in the sand.

      1 month ago
  • Proud owner of a lower XLS 4x4 trim. If I could swap my grill for the ones on the FX4 variant, that would be great. Other than that, no other complaints.

      1 day ago
  • I just wish the hood wasn’t... how it is. It looks like they stuffed an explorer hood onto a shortened F-150. Just doesn’t do it for me

      1 month ago
  • I didn't realize the towing was that impressive for the little 4cylinder. I was expecting somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000lbs, but 7,500 is a great number. You can tow a vehicle on a flat with that number.

      1 month ago