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Ford Ranger STX (1995) Review

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SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

Pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles sold today. Over the past decade pickups have moved from being mostly work vehicles to the personal transportation of choice for many people. Like automobiles, pickups come in sizes from compact to large. There are pickups for all tastes and needs, from economical two-passenger compact models to immense full-size six-passenger crew cab, four-wheel drive behemoths. The full-size models remain the best sellers because of their use by fleet customers like public utilities and construction companies, but compact pickups are close behind. Compacts, more than anything else, have made the pickup acceptable in polite society. When they first appeared on the American scene in the late 1960s, they were bought by people who never would have thought of buying a "real" pickup. Sales started slowly, but grew. And grew. And grew.

The key to pickup popularity is usefulness. A pickup can do almost anything that a car can, and more. At the utilitarian end of the spectrum, the pickup is a car with a large trunk. At the other end, with powerful engines and car-like, well-appointed interiors, sporty pickups may be putting sport coupes on the endangered species list.

A prime example of sport-coupe replacement is this week's test vehicle, the 1995 Ford Ranger SuperCab STX. With its V6 power, automatic transmission, and larger cab for added secure storage or occasional extra passengers the Ranger STX is not unlike many sport coupes. It is fashionable and useful. What more do you need?

APPEARANCE: The STX is a pickup truck, all right - high and handsome. The Ranger got a major restyling a couple of years ago, and has a new grille this year. The corners have been rounded off, the windshield is raked back, and the result is a stylish, aggressive truck. The Super Cab STX has bold, eye-catching graphics for extra flashiness.

COMFORT: With a column-mounted shift lever, comfy velour-covered bucket seats for the driver and front passenger - six-way adjustable for the driver -, height-adjustable shoulder straps, and a new instrument panel, the interior of the Ranger STX bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Ford's popular Taurus family sedan. The Super Cab has two crossways- mounted fold-down rear jump seats. Much like similar arrangements found in old sports cars, these are useful only for short distances or if the occupants are young enough for the experience to be an adventure. The extra space behind the seats is welcome for secure parcel storage, and provides a home for the optional CD changer.

SAFETY: All Ranger models now have a driver-side air bag, side-impact protection door beams, height-adjustable shoulder straps, and at least rear-wheel antilock brakes. Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard on Rangers equipped with the 4-liter V6 or four-wheel drive, and optional on all others. Rangers with the automatic transmission have a brake/shift interlock to keep the truck from accidentally being shifted out of "park".

ROADABILITY: Modern pickups have come a long way from the harsh buckboards of the past. Ride comfort of the Ranger STX is not too different from that of a modern family sedan. The large P265/75 R15 Firestone Wilderness AT tires help smooth out small bumps on the road or trail. The high four-wheel-drive stance makes for excellent visibility. Our test truck had the optional electronically-controlled four-wheel-drive system, which is actuated by a rotary switch on the dashboard. It is easy to use and keeps the floor uncluttered. Four-wheel drive high range can be selected at any speed under 55 mph, although the truck must be stopped and in neutral to engage four-wheel drive low range. Automatically-locking front hubs are included in the package.

PERFORMANCE: When equipped with the 4-liter V6 engine, the Ranger STX is quite sporty. It has good speed and power in all driving situations, and can carry a 1250 pound payload. Ground clearance, at 6.6 inches, should be adequate for all but the most intrepid off-road enthusiasts. With the weight of the Super Cab and four-wheel drive, the 20 gallon gas tank is welcome. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly.

CONCLUSIONS: With sporty, stylish machines like the Ford Ranger STX available, it's easy to see why compact pickup trucks are so popular.


       Base Price             $ 18,428
       Price As Tested        $ 23,700
       Engine Type            V-6 ,ohv, 16v, smpfi
       Engine Size            4.0 liter/244 cid        
       Horsepower             160 @ 4200                         
       Torque (ft/lbs)        220 @ 3000 
       Wheelbase/Length       125"/198"
       Box w/l                54"/72"
       Transmission           four-speed EC automatic w/overdrive
       Curb Weight            3470 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  22
       Fuel Capacity          20 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)              
       Tires                  Firestone Firehawk Wilderness AT   
                              P265/75 R15
       Brakes                 ABS standard, vented disc/drum
       Drive Train            Front engine/rear drive, on demand 4WD
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon   
         city/highway/observed       15/19/17
       0 to 60 mph                   10.4 sec
       1/4 mi (E.T.)                 18.5 sec
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)     .40