REVIEW: 2002 FORD RANGER XLT 4X4
SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide
By Bren/Mikele Hagin SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 26,165 Price As Tested $ 28,101 Engine Type SOHC 12-valve 4.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 184 cid/2970 cc Horsepower 207 @ 5250 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 238 @ 3500 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 125.9"/70.3"/201.7" Transmission Five-speed manual Curb Weight 3728 pounds Fuel Capacity 19.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P245/75R16SL OWL all season Brakes (F/R) Disc (Front-ABS)/drum (Rear-ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/two-door Domestic Content 96 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.42 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 16/19/17 Cargo volume 1260 lbs Towing capacity 5620 lbs * Sequential multi-port fuel injection BRENDAN - Ford trucks. Those two words are tied together as closely as America and baseball. These vehicles seem to last forever and have outsold the competition for years. A friend had a mid-'80s Ranger that was always on its last legs, but it still ran even after he purposely tried to kill it. The paint was destroyed and the shocks made it ride like a trampoline, but he made it to band practice every time. This week we write about the 2002 Ranger XLT 4X4, a big step up from my friend's old warhorse. XLT is mainly an appearance package, but with other options added, it comes out as an attractive package. The entry-level powerplant is a 2.3-liter dual-overhead-cam inline four cylinder, but depending on body style, a buyer can get a 3.0-liter pushrod overhead valve V6 with 154 ponies or our tester's burly 4.0-liter single-overhead -cam V6 engine that produces 207 horsepower. MIKELE - My Dad said he would never drive a Ford for any reason, because he's a life-long member of the Bowtie Brigade, but he would like the Ranger if we stripped off the Blue Oval logos. Each engine option can be had with a manual five-speed or a five-speed automatic. Dad's getting older, so I imagine he would like the automatic, although he wouldn't admit to it. I prefer the five-speed manuals myself. They provide more torque to burn a little rubber here and there. The press kit says a limited slip rear differential can be had, but not with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Ranger's front suspension is an independent short-and-long-arm system, with front torsion bars that are matched to the intended job rating. The rear suspension is a rigid axle with two-stage multi-leaf springs. Like most trucks made today, it has a power rack-and-pinion steering system and we found it gave car-like response and parking ability. All that stuff makes it a good handling vehicle - better than you would expect from a truck. BRENDAN - You've done your homework. Keep reading those press packs and you'll become a full-fledged auto expert like your Dad and mine. Inside, our Ranger has all the trimmings, like a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and Ford's optional Power Equipment Group which includes power mirrors, power windows with a one-touch-down feature on the driver's side window, power door locks and remote keyless entry. A sliding rear window is standard on some models. It gives easy access to the bed, just in case you need to reassure your leashed pups or toss stuff in the back. The standard stereos offered in the Rangers are OK but if it came with the AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system that's offered as an option, you'll be the envy of all your buddies that spend a fortune of their tunes. MIKELE - I haven't had those kinds of "buddies" since high school, Brendan. Unfortunately, I'm still playing cassettes and records at home and I'm sure I still have a few of those '70s eight-track tapes lying around somewhere if I could only find my player. The exterior of the XLT series is really cool, with smooth lines and a few different cab designs, but I would have preferred the four-door SuperCab over our two-door because I like more cabin space. The new five-spoke 16-inch aluminum wheels are slick, and the optional front sport bucket seats are going to be the seating of choice for this fancy machine. Safety is always an issue with me, and the Ranger XLT has plenty of it. Its standard four-wheel anti-lock brake system helps provide good stops and excellent steering control under bad driving conditions. The Ranger is also equipped with second-generation airbags for the driver and right front passenger. There's also a manual switch to deactivate the system on the right side when the driver is using a rear-facing child-safety seat in that seating position. That's some very good stuff, especially for a young family. BRENDAN - The new Ranger would be an excellent band-gear hauler. If only I had one back in the old days, when the bed would get overstuffed with my drums and amps, I could have dropped down the tailgate and strapped them down. And with a matching camper shell, all that gear would have been safe and sound. MIKELE - Your drums are staying at home, Brendan. The only drumming I want you to do anymore is in our basement. Fortunately, your "Rock Star" days are over.