The tough little brother of the best-selling truck of all time.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2020 Ford Ranger
Base price (4×4 Crew Cab trim): $42,619
Options: $3,000 Lariat package; $1,400 FX4 off-road package; $2,495 Black Appearance package; $150 splash-guards; $250 tray-style floor liners; $600 trailer tow package; $125 securicode keyless keypad
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $52,639
I just thought I’d get that part out of the way. Because yeah, this little truck is expensive. So let’s see what you get for that cash. It’s a question worth asking, since you can get a full-size F-150 for just a few thousand dollars more.
The styling of the Ranger isn’t exciting, but it has good proportions and my review truck’s Lightning blue paint definitely was eye-catching. The LED headlight and tail lights are appreciated and do a great job.
The wheel wells on it were filled with chunky 265/60-sized off-road worthy rubber on black 18-inch rims (courtesy of the Black Appearance package – the 5″ running boards are part of that as well).
I found this little guy got a lot of looks on the road and when it was parked.
In the somewhat old-school cabin you’ll find a mish-mash of materials, most of which make the Ranger interior feel pretty entry level – there’s a nice stitched dash panel but then there’s mostly hard plastics elsewhere throughout the cabin.
If the interior in the Ranger feels like it’s about 10 years old, that’s because it is – this truck has existed elsewhere in the world for a long time, it’s just that we North Americans haven’t been privy to it until recently. So yeah, the tech inside is a bit behind the curve. For example, the standard speedometer flanked by two 4.2-inch driver information screens showed up in Fords I reviewed a decade ago or so. But hey, it still works fine.
The heated leather seats are quite comfortable and decently bolstered, and they are the big exception to the other cabin materials – they are upholstered in nice, stone gray leather which adds a touch of lightness to the otherwise dark interior.
Centered in the dash is Ford’s ubiquitous 8-inch SYNC3 touchscreen, which I quite like. It’s simple and works well, combining phone, navigation, vehicle settings and the controls for the 10-speaker B&O sound system (which, if I have to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with). Below it are hard buttons and controls for major stereo functions and the dual-zone climate control system.
There’s a bit of driver assistance technology – pre-collision assist, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, a lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, a back-up camera with front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert.
When it comes to the smaller truck class, the Ranger does alright in terms of rear passenger space. Compared to the tiny Taco, I had notably more space in the Ranger. I’m 5’10” and sitting behind my own driving position, I had at least a few inches of legroom and headroom is about the same.
With that said, the rear seats are very upright and not very well padded, so they’re definitely not comfortable for any longer rides. The floor is not flat, so the middle passenger is not going to be a happy puppy – even my 10-year-old son was none too impressed with sitting there.
Convenience-wise, rear passengers will find two USB plugs as well as a 110V household plug and a little storage cubby. The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cupholders and there’s a manual sliding window back there. There are also LATCH anchors on both sides for child seats.
At the front of the console is an open bin with 2 USB plugs (with 2 12V plugs above it), and there’s a small rubberized bin underneath the armrest lid.
The rear seatbacks flip down in one piece to make a big open cargo area in the back. The rear seat bottoms also flip up and out of the way, exposing some storage space and bins underneath.
The truck box is nothing exciting – it’s small and feature-less although the box light is a very bright and effective LED light.
Under the Hood
The only power plant available is the 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out a more-than-adequate 270HP and 310 lb.ft of torque. All that is funnelled through a 10-speed automatic transmission and to a 4×4 drivetrain.
Ford rates this compact truck at 11.8/9.8 L/100 km (city/highway).
I always appreciate Ford’s remote starters. They are consistently the best in the business – they react instantly and without any fuss. If you don’t need that, you can just get in and fire it up with the push-start ignition.
The EcoBoost engine offers up a ton of power, and the Ranger is fast. It’s no slouch at any speed, and although I didn’t tow with this one, I know these are quite capable little tugs.
There’s a wealth of buttons and selectors on the console that allow you to tailer the Ranger to your driving situation’s needs. The gear selector has a Sport mode option, which will make things a touch more responsive and aggressive. Then there’s the rotary 4×4 selector allowing you to choose between two and four wheel drive, and high and low ranges and numerous “terrain management” modes which are Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand.
And finally, there are buttons to activate the electronic trail control, the differential lock and a tow/haul mode. Phew! Equipped with the towing package, the Ranger can haul up to 7,500 pounds.
The ride is OK, but I found it very jiggly in a truckish way. I believe this is a result of the FX4 off-road suspension as the one Ranger I’ve driven that didn’t have that option rode better. What the Ranger does very well is handle itself on the road. I was surprised again and again how agile and athletic it felt around town.
Visibility out of the front and sides is fantastic, not so much for the rear-view as the rear headrests block a big portion of the already shallow view thanks to the small rear window. It’s weird that the rear headrests don’t fold down – you have to fold the whole seatback down to move them out of your field of view.
The fact that it’s a compact truck makes it easy to live with – it’s easy to drive and easy to park and it will fit in a normal garage.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was well… it’s a little truck. She didn’t hate it and said it was easy to drive. But it’s not a vehicle for her.
The Ranger is a bit of a weird duck. It’s an old truck and platform – as I noted, it’s been a world vehicle for years, but was just introduced here a couple of years ago. You won’t see a lot of them around. I don’t know the exact reason, but I suspect it’s Ford strange pricing model. This thing is pricey, and when you look at the dated cabin and styling and the over-50-grand price tag, it’s understandable that, likely, plenty of folks are just walking over to the other side of the showroom and picking up an F-150 which is way bigger, way more comfortable, way more current and way more capable – and starts at approximately the same price as this truck.
But if it’s a compact and still highly capable truck you’re after, and you’re OK with the pricing, the Ranger is a solid choice.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.
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