Hands off. This truck is all mine. (OK, not really; you’ll love it too).
Since 2011, you haven’t been able to buy a new Ford Ranger in the United States. That’s all about to change.
Ford has redesigned their smallest truck offering from a miniature work-truck to a comfortable mid-size adventure machine. If you’re looking for a vehicle that will take you to and from work, but also out to play, you just might fall in love with the new Ford Ranger.
How Does it Compare to the Rest of the Ford Truck Family?
The Ford Ranger is the little brother to the F-150. It brings in the off-roading capability from the Raptor while meeting the durability standards of the F-series line up. But it’s scaled-down size will mean you have no trouble parking it at the office or the grocery store.
For off-roading, you get the Terrain Management System, which helps you drive on mud, gravel, or sand, as well as Trail Control, which is like cruise control for off-roading (the system handles accelerating and braking so you can focus on steering).
The Ranger tows just as smoothly as its big brothers, too. It’s 7,500 towing capacity is enough for most of your toys, including small travel trailers. Trailer sway control and blind spot monitoring that extends to your trailer (up to 33 ft) come standard on the XLT and Lariat. Bonus, there’s a zoom on your backup camera to help you line that hitch up right the first time.
Who This Truck is For:
- Adventures—if you’re hauling boats, ATVs, kayaks, or any other fun toys, this is for you!
- Off-Roaders—if you like the trails, mud, and fun terrain, this truck can handle it.
- Weekend Warriors—this truck can take you from commute to trail seamlessly.
- The DIYer—all the luxuries on the inside, plus plenty of space in the bed for that new dresser you’re refinishing.
- Singles or small families—the SuperCrew comfortably seats five, and even your tall friends can sit in the back.
- The secondary vehicle—if you have a commuter or family car already and are looking for something a little more capable on the weekends.
What This Truck Costs:
- Ranger SuperCab base price: $25,395 (or $29,555 for the 4×4)
- Ranger SuperCrew base price: $27,615 (or $31,775 for the 4×4)
- The model I drove was the 4×2 Supercrew Lariat which starts at $34,385. It also had the B&O Sound System from Bang & Olufsen, adaptive cruise control, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, remote start, windshield wiper de-icer, white platinum tri-coat paint, 5” black running boards, upgraded tires, 18” machined aluminum wheels, the sport appearance package, and spray-in bed liner. With the delivery charge included, it came in at $40,790.
Testing Out the Off-Roading Features
Ford picked sunny San-Diego for us to test out the Ford Ranger. We took a scenic drive out to Bradford Ranch that included hilly, curvy highways and then conquered their off-roading course to show the true capabilities of these trucks. If you’re ever out that way, I have to recommend stopping at the Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant for some pie.
Experiencing the difference sport mode made on those curves was great, but the real fun was the off-roading course. This was a first for me, and I was a little nervous going in, but it ended up being a great learning experience–both for learning about the Ranger’s capabilities, and learning my own!
Sue drove the first round to show us how it was done, and I have to say the blind hill where the incline is so steep you can’t see anything but sky in front of you, and the sharp embankments where you can reach a 25 degree tilt, well, they were unnerving for a first-timer, even in the passenger seat. But again, Sue was full of sage advice on how to handle them.
By the time it was my turn to drive it, I felt more excited than anxious. And it was high praise to be told I hit the same incline degree as Sue on those embankments.
Then they let me splash all sorts of mud on the beautiful new truck–and who wouldn’t think that was fun?!
The Everyday Driver that Works Weekends, too.
While the Ranger is obviously built Ford tough for adventure, it makes a case for being your everyday driver, too. With the Lariat trim package, you get a luxurious interior including an upgraded sound system from Bang & Olufsen.
The other thing that makes this truck a candidate for that space in your garage is the technology package.
The Ranger is also the most fuel-efficient mid-size truck currently on the market and features a seamless Auto Start-Stop system to help save fuel and reduce emissions.
Technology for Days. And Days. And Days.
The Ranger also has an optional technology package that makes driving this truck absolutely joyful. The Ford Co-Pilot 360 system comes standard on the XLT and Lariat models. These driver-assist technologies include blind spot and cross-traffic monitoring, lane-keeping, pre-collision braking, auto high-beams, and a rearview camera.
Beyond the driver-assist technologies, you also have all of the connectivity options: smart-charging USB ports, a 110v outlet, and Ford’s SYNC 3 system which gives you access to voice controls, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. And with FordPass Connect, you get 4G LTE WiFi service for up to 10 devices that can be used up to 50 feet from the truck.
A Truck Built Just for Me
I’m a truck girl, through and through. But being a woman who loves trucks always seems to involve feeling a little out of place. Everything tends to feel oversized and I’ve even found it hard to get the seat and steering wheel where I need it in a full-size truck. And climbing in and out of one can be a pain. And let’s not even talk about the acrobatics involved in putting a car seat up in one. I’m 5’3” so I’m not short-short, but really, things shouldn’t be this hard.
And sure, there are smaller trucks. I drove a Nissan Frontier in college, but it really didn’t feel like a truck.
The Ranger solved all of this for me. It feels like a big truck, is capable like a big truck, but I felt comfortable. Getting in and out was easier (it’s still high enough that we short women have to pull ourselves in, but not with huge effort), I can reach into the bed easier, and putting a car seat in would actually be easier than it is in my Expedition, even.
Someone asked me what surprised me most about this truck. And the answer is simple: this truck wears as many hats as I do. I’m a mom, I’m an adventurer, I’m an entrepreneur–and this truck has features that fit every area of my life.
It’s got the 4-wheel drive to get me out of muddy baseball field parking lots, the technology to help me work on the road, and enough power to take on whatever adventure I could throw at it. And it’s not sacrificing comfort or style to get it all done. What’s not to love?
I Want to Be Sue Mead When I Grow Up.
I had the privilege of taking this truck out around the San Diego area with none other than Sue Mead. She’s an amazing journalist who also happens to be in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. And what better way to tackle your first off-road course than with a true professional?
I recently wrote a piece on driving confidence, or more accurately, my lack of it. And what the BMW Performance Center didn’t fix, driving with Sue did. From the beautiful, curvy mountain highways to Ford’s fantastic off-roading course, I learned so much from this woman.
Sue’s Driving Tips
- Always keep your eyes as far ahead as possible when you’re on the road. Especially on curvy stretches. If you’re looking where you want to go, your brain can tell your hands what to do to get you there.
- Use the sport mode on the curves. It makes for a smoother ride because it extends how long you stay in a certain gear.
- Keep both hands on the wheel, and spread them out to 9-and-3, not 10-and-2. And don’t hook your thumbs in the wheel. This all gives you more control and smoother reactions should you need to swerve for something.
So, When Can You Get the Ford Ranger?
The Ford Ranger’s just recently started rolling off the assembly line in Wayne, Michigan and are expected to reach dealerships in early 2019. Our local dealership said they’ll have theirs in March, but they are already open for custom orders.
Disclosure: I was Ford’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions are my own.