Interior is subpar. Strong fuel economy. Suspension needs work.
The Ford Ranger took a hiatus from the U.S. market but it was still alive around the globe. It’s been almost a decade since there was a Ford Ranger in showrooms. The midsize truck market is sizzling now, and Ford decided it’s time they get some of this smokin’ hot segment for themselves. The big players are the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Honda Ridgeline. There’s even a new Jeep pickup. So Ford is hoping for good things from the new Ranger, but can they deliver?
This week, we drove the 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat SuperCrew 4×4, which is the top trim.
Ford Ranger: What’s New For 2019?
The 2019 Ford Ranger is all-new, at least here in the U.S. market. It’s been called a baby F-150 and can be mistaken for its big brother – let’s just say, trucks these days (even midsize ones) are bigger than they used to be. Like the F-150, the Ranger features a high-strength steel frame and an EcoBoost engine. Available in either SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration, the Ranger has three familiar trim levels: XL, XLT, and Lariat.
Our 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat SuperCrew 4×4 ($38,385) came standard with front and rear parking sensors, foglights, a 110-volt power outlet, an extra USB port, keyless entry, remote locking tailgate, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and a six-speaker stereo. The top-trim Lariat also gets 18-inch alloy wheels; LED headlights and taillights; an LED cargo lamp; power-adjustable and heated front seats; leather upholstery; and dual-zone automatic climate control. Tech features include an eight-inch center touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 interface, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also comes with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 safety suite which brings lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
This Lariat tester came with the optional technology package ($1,795); FX4 Off-Road package ($1,295); Sport Appearance package ($895); trailer package ($495); and spray-in bed liner ($495). Total MSRP, including destination: $44,960. By contrast, the 2019 Ford Ranger starts at $24,300.
Interior Highlights: Some Good, Some Not So Good
Our Lariat Ranger came with inconsistent build quality. For example, the leather seats and soft-touch materials are nice, but we think the Lariat has too much plastic for a top-trim model. The driver’s seat is nicely-positioned however, unlike the Toyota Tacoma that places the seat bases lower to the floor. We could find the perfect driving position in our Ranger with the eight-way power adjustments. Similarly, the telescoping steering wheel also offers a good range of adjustment. Legroom is excellent up front for taller drivers and there’s plenty of elbow and headroom.
There is a small bin to store your cell phone, and the automatic gear selector and pull-up parking brake handle are traditional. The Lariat touchscreen is larger (eight inches) and intuitive for the most part. The controls are generally easy to understand but there are too many small buttons on the climate control menu for our liking. With the advancements in the midsize truck segment today, the Ranger’s interior seems to run in the middle of the pack.
The SuperCrew offers a good amount of backseat space for adults and there won’t be any complaints on longer trips. The SuperCrew comes with a five-foot bed that may come in handy for weekend projects; but its short length and narrow width will limit what you can carry. You can opt for a longer six-foot box if needed.
2019 Ford Ranger: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2019 Ford Ranger is powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. The turbo four-cylinder creates 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque; it’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. When equipped with the tow package and a trailer brake controller, the 2019 Ranger’s max tow rating is 7,500 lbs. Max payload, when properly equipped, is 1,860 lbs.
EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 20/24 city/highway and 22 combined mpg. Against the competition, the 2019 Ford Ranger comes out on top.
Driving Dynamics: Unsteady & Uneasy
The seats are comfortable, visibility is good, and the cabin is generally quiet, but we did experience a noticeable amount of sway as we hit uneven pavement. The Ranger’s suspension needs more damping and has a fair amount of unsteady bouncing that can make passengers feel uneasy as the cabin bobs back and forth. The 2019 Ranger does well on the open road if the road is flat and smooth. In the tight corners, the truck will track well but body roll is apparent.
Driving Dynamics: Silver Linings
The Ranger’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine has plenty of torque if you need to pull a small trailer. We tested the Ranger at altitude where you need a turbo engine because of the rarified air. The midsize pickup had plenty of “umph” to get us past slower traffic and up to highway speeds. We dropped the transmission into Sport mode for quicker shifts on the tight mountain roads near Denver and found it enjoyable.
The 10-speed automatic works well and did so for us in the mountains, never hunting for the right gear. This transmission contributes to the Ranger’s fuel efficiency, something we can attest to on our drive. With a maximum tow capacity of 7,500 lbs., the 2019 Ford Ranger can out-tow and out-haul its midsize competitors; a selling point if you do own a small trailer.
For off-road use, the available FX4 package makes it one of the best on the market. It adds off-road shocks, all-terrain tires, and a terrain-management system. We recommend the FX4 package for those who live where snow and ice is common. The added capability will provide peace of mind when old man winter strikes.
We weren’t overly impressed with the 2019 Ford Ranger’s interior or suspension. We liked the feel of the engine and transmission, and the extra torque for pulling and towing at altitude. The Ranger also offers the latest safety and connectivity technology. However, the new Ranger is far from a slam dunk in a midsize truck market bristling with strong competition.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
2019 Ford Ranger Gallery
Photos: Ford Motor Company. (Additional trim levels shown).