2019 Ford Ranger Review by Larry Nutson - It's E15 Approved
2019 Ford Ranger
At home on the range or in the city
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
There are five contenders, that’s five new pickup trucks, being considered for the title of 2020 North American Truck of the Year. The new Ford Ranger is one of them.
The Ranger has not graced Ford dealer showrooms since 2011 but now it’s back for 2019. Ranger uses a traditional body-on-frame architecture, has a steel body, and you can get either a 2-door (with short rear doors) Supercab or a 4-door Supercrew body style.
There’s only one powertrain and it comes with either a 4X2 or 4X4 drivetrain.
I’ve never owned a pickup but have spent a fair amount of time driving them. Way back in my younger years I was engaged in motorsports and we towed our 3,200 lb. drag race car on a trailer using a two-door, 3-person bench seat pickup…not a Ford. I’ve borrowed a few pickups in my house-owning days to haul materials for various building and landscape projects
And of course today, I get to street drive and occasionally off-road drive new pickups. At the recent Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin I did get to do a bit of off-roading with the Ranger.
Full size pickups, such as the Ranger’s bigger sibling the aluminum-bodied F-150, are quite large. I note this because I now live in densely populated Chicago with its significant volume of street traffic. I find midsize pickups such as the Ranger to be well suited for city driving. They are large enough to be functional and yet not too challenging to maneuver in tight quarters.
And when it come to the family vehicle, new pickups these days are very car-like and refined. They’re fairly smooth riding and have lots of interior features and equipment to make them very family-friendly. Yes, SUVs are a bit more practical. However, with a tonneau cover on the pickup bed a Ranger might be just right for some. Plus, if you need to tow the family boat or vacation trailer, the Ranger is rated to tow 7,500 lbs.
The Ranger is offered in one wheelbase but in two body-styles, the extended cab with a 6-foot bed or a crew cab with a 5-foot bed. There’s a choice of three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat.
My 2019 Ford Ranger drive-experience was with a Supercrew 4X4 Lariat model equipped with the FX4 off-road package. Base MSRP on this truck is $38,385 and with options it topped out at $45,545.
All Rangers are equipped with an Ecoboost turbo 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 270 HP and 310 pound-feet of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. EPA test cycle ratings are 22 mpg combined, with 20 city mpg and 24 highway mpg.
Don’t wrinkle your nose at the four-cylinder. It’s very good, being quite strong and decent on fuel consumption. The ten-speed automatic is also very good. Actually, this automatic is what makes the powertrain package so good, in my view.
My first jaunt in the Ranger was a 2-hour highway drive east from Chicago to Southwest Michigan. Overall the Ranger is nicely quiet at highway speeds. Engine and wind noise is minimal and there was a bit of tire noise, but that’s to be expected with the 18-inch off-road tires. Accelerating at mid-throttle from a toll booth the 10-speed trans smoothly and quickly upshifts keeping the engine operating in a narrow RPM band for good torque as well as efficiency.
My highway drive was mostly at 70+mph speeds and the Ranger got 23 mpg over the 250-mile round trip, just one mpg below the EPA highway rating.
Getting into the cabin is a bit of a climb up, especially with the off-road package. My wife was wanting for running boards, but they don’t do well off-road. With the high seating position outward visibility is good.
On my road trip the power-adjustable seat did a good job of keeping me comfortable. Overall interior appearance is good but not quite contemporary. There’s a touch screen with Ford’s Sync 3 system. The low and vertical placement of the HVAC controls made for poor lighting and thus difficulty in seeing them. The B&O ten-speaker sound system made for nice listening to my favorite tunes.
There’s good interior storage with the usual glovebox, a deep center console covered bin, a smaller open space in front of the shifter, and door pockets with bottle holders. Under the rear seat there is additional storage.
On the safety front, keeping with making trucks more like everyday family cars, an array of Advanced Driver Assistance Safety (ADAS) features are equipped in Ford's CoPilot-360 system.
I didn’t do any off-roading but note that the FX4 package includes off-road tires, unique shock and suspension tuning, an electronically locking rear axle, front tow hooks, underbody skid plates, a terrain management system, and a low-speed crawl control system.
More model information, specifications as well as options for the new 2019 Ford Ranger can be found at www.ford.com.
There’s a long list of choices and options for the Ranger and Ford keeps offering more. New is an FX2 package to give 4X2 models off-road creds, as well as a new Black Appearance package.
Overall I enjoyed driving the Ranger and thought it a viable contender in the midsize pickup market. The interior could use some refinement and that might just come along with a model year freshening.
Will I ever own a pickup? Who knows?
Stay tuned as the year moves on to see how the Ranger does in the NACTOY awards.
© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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