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New Car/Review


Ford Ranger Edge Super Cab 4x4 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

by John Heilig


MODEL:  Ford Ranger Edge Super Cab 4x4 
ENGINE: 4.0-liter V6 
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 207 hp @ 5250 rpm/238 lb-ft @ 3000  rpm 
TRANSMISSION:  Five-speed automatic 
WHEELBASE: 125.9 in. 
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 201.7 x 67.9 x 67.5 in. 
STICKER PRICE:  $24,755 

It's usually extenuating circumstances that show you the true character of a person, an automobile or a truck. Such is the case with this week's tester, the Ford Ranger Edge.

Here is a pickup truck that is a Ford Ranger, obviously, and has little to recommend it beyond that distinction, which is its own right quite a distinction. It has in its short bed one of the new bed extenders ($195 option) that first became popular with the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, for example. This is an aluminum "cage" that flips out when you lower the tailgate and gives you two more feet of cargo carrying length. So you can own the shorter bed pickup and still have the occasional convenience of a longer-bed truck.

It also has an extended cab. This is not a "four-door" pickup but a "two-door pickup" with access doors on each side to get to the extended portion of the cab. Access doors are defined as doors with no exterior handles. But for the amount of time you would put people in the cramped rear seat, this type of door is fine. If you're planning on carrying additional passengers often, I would recommend a four-door pickup instead of an extended cab. We did not use the Ranger Edge for carrying passengers, but used it for carrying cargo all the time. In order to gain access, all we had to do was open the access door, throw our stuff in, close the door and we were on our way.

The Edge is a new Ranger trim level that is positioned between the XL and XLT trim levels and is aimed at young, active-lifestyle customers who want a vehicle with a distinctive appearance at an affordable price. It has aggressive styling and a high stance. That's Ford-speak.

The extenuating circumstances I spoke about in the beginning was a snowfall. The mother of all snowfalls. We had, in early February, more than 16 inches of the white stuff deposited in our driveway, streets and roads. About 6 inches fell before I left for work and I dutifully shoveled it away. All day long, every time I looked out the office window, all I saw was snow, and another 10-12 inches fell while I was at work, forcing me to re-shovel when I got home. After a lot of crying and whining, a neighbor sent over the team that was snow-blowing his driveway to help me, but it took a lot of whining.

Needless to say, travel was difficult. I took a co-worker home and she lived in an area where now snow was plowed. I shifted the Ranger into 4x4 Low (I had been in 4x4 High for most of our driving) and negotiated her street with no problems. The next morning, her road was safely plowed and I drove it in two-wheel drive just to prove it. The convenience of a dash-mounted switch to help go between all the drive modes made life exceptionally easy.

We drove the Ranger to our remote office (which somehow avoided the worst of the snow), and the truck negotiated winding roads and Interstates with no problem. The truck was comfortable (for two passengers), had a compliant ride that allowed it to corner well but was still comfortable, and offered that extra carrying space behind the rear seats for us to put all our paraphernalia for putting out a newspaper.

I have to admit that I was quite impressed with the four-wheel drive capability of the Ranger. I shouldn't have been surprised, because the Ranger is the base platform the for Explorer, and that SUV is noted for its four-wheel drive abilities.

I was probably surprised because of the light weight over the rear-drive tires of the Ranger. I had driven rear-drive cars that have a significant portion of their weight on their front wheels and they were a bear to drive in adverse conditions.

Ranger is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that delivers 207 horsepower. This engine drives the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Adding the extra speed to the automatic gives it more smoothness, and you notice the shift points less. Our tester was fully equipped with all the goodies: power windows, door locks and mirrors, an AM/FM stereo sound system with a six-CD in-dash changer, an excellent heater that made us too warm by the end of a medium-length ride. On some of the warmer days after the snowfall I had the air conditioner running.

So the Ranger Edge fit the bill for all we needed.

My one complaint was with the fuel economy. It is listed at 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway, but it seemed that we filled the tank too often. We took it on a couple of lengthy trips and it felt as if you could watch the fuel gauge move from F to E. It is a relatively small vehicle, and I would have hoped for better economy, especially since I was in 2WD most of the time. But other than that minor complaint, this is an excellent vehicle if you're in the market for a truck. It's nice to know you have a vehicle that can handle just about anything Mother Nature wants to throw at you.