Ford’s updated Ranger midsize pickup ready to tackle the highway or the trail

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By G. CHAMBERS WILLIAMS III

The Ranger Black Appearance Package features an aggressive look with a black grille, running boards, accented wheels and more.

Last year, Ford reintroduced its Ranger midsize pickup to the U.S market after an eight-year absence.

The move brought a new exterior, chassis and powertrain to the Ranger, which was designed specifically for North America.

As with other newer Ford trucks, the Ranger’s design includes extensive use of aluminum in the body to reduce weight and improve fuel economy.

The Ranger competes against the Japanese stalwarts in the midsize pickup class – the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier – as well as against the recently re-introduced Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

For 2020, the Ranger comes in two cab configurations, SuperCab and SuperCrew, with three main trim levels, XL, XLT, and Lariat, with the FX off-road package available on both versions.

While both body styles have seating for up to five people, but the SuperCrew has more rear cabin space with better legroom, and it has four doors.

SuperCab models have a six-foot-long cargo box, while Super Crew versions have a five-foot box.

Prices start at $24,410 (plus $1,195 freight) for a two-wheel drive XL SuperCab model with the six-foot cargo bed, and base prices climb up to $38,675 for the top-spec four-wheel drive Lariat SuperCrew with its five-foot bed.

XLT two-wheel-drive SuperCab models start at $28,460, while the Lariat two-wheel-drive SuperCab is $32,500.

Stepping up to SuperCrew for the XL costs $2,400 more ($26,810), while it is $2,175 more for both the two-wheel-drive SuperCrew XLT ($30,635) and Lariat ($34,675) models, compared with their SuperCab versions.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive can be added for $4,000 on the XLT and Lariat, and $4,160 on the XL.

Our test vehicle was the 2020 Lariat SuperCrew with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive (base price $38,675) with the FX4 Off-Road Package ($1,295), including an electronic-locking rear differential.

All Rangers are powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission, rated at 270 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque.

A twin-power dome hood accommodates the EcoBoost engine, which comes with a twin-scroll turbocharger. The engine has a forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams.

Fuel-economy ratings are 21 mpg city/26 highway/23 combined for rear-wheel-drive models, and 20/24/22 for four-wheel drive versions, including our tester.

Although Ranger body is mostly aluminum, the truck has a high-strength steel frame, and frame-mounted steel bumpers front and back.

As with most midsize pickups, Ford expects Ranger consumers to use it mostly for personal transportation rather than as a work truck, with weekend sporting adventures and light DIY hauling in mind.

Ranger was designed with a muscular body with a high beltline to emphasize strength, Ford says. There also are a raked grille and windshield, adding to the Ranger’s sporty look. The design also helps improve aerodynamics and reduce wind noise.

To aid with off-road adventures, the Ranger has short front and rear overhangs for clearing obstacles.

Available is a rugged steel bumper with an integrated trailer hitch receiver, allowing the Ranger to tow ATVs, travel trailers or boats. Maximum towing capacity is 7,500 pounds with the Trailer Tow Package ($495), included on our test model.

The cabin features a front center dash stack that has an eight-inch touch screen, and there is an instrument cluster with dual LCD screens for vehicle, navigation and audio information.

The FX4 Off-Road Package makes the Ranger trail ready, bringing such extras as off-road shocks, all-terrain tires, a heavy-gauge steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates, FX4 badges, and a Terrain Management System similar to that of the F-150 Raptor.

Settings include normal; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand driving modes. The system automatically adjusts throttle response, gearing and vehicle controls to match the terrain or weather conditions.

The FX4 package also includes Ford’s new Trail Control technology, which automatically manages acceleration and braking on rough terrain. Trailer Sway Control was included on our tester.

Ranger four-wheel-drive versions include low-range gearing for serious off-road conditions. There is a knob on the left side of the center console shifter that electronically engages 4WD High or 4WD Low modes, along with the normal 2WD.

We took our Ranger on some mild state park of-road trails, where it performed flawlessly on loose dirt and gravel. But we did not encounter any sand, mud or heavy rock. Shifting into and out of four-wheel drive was quick and easy.

Advanced safety and driver-assist technologies such as Automatic Emergency Braking, along with Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Reverse Sensing System and a Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage are standard on XLT and Lariat trims.

Our Lariat model also came with Adaptive Cruise Control. We also had the Lariat Series Equipment Group ($2,005), with the included Technology Package. It included the Ford SYNC 3 entertainment and connectivity system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Alexa personal assistant functionality and navigation.

Among other available Ranger features are LED headlights and taillights, puddle lamps, cargo bed lighting, and the Smart Trailer Tow connector, which tells the driver if the trailer light connection isn’t working.

Our truck included such standard features as dual heated/leather front bucket seats, automatic halogen headlights, with auto high beams; LED fog lights; a power tailgate lock; privacy glass; rearview camera; tilt/telescopic steering column; dual sliding sun visors with vanity mirrors; folding second-row bench seat; outside temperature display; and a locking glove box.

We had two 12-volt power outlets and two USB ports in the front of the shifter just under the dash, and there was a 110-volt power outlet as well.

Inside, the new Ford Ranger blends comfort and functionality with room for up to five people, their gear and accessories. A center stack includes an eight-inch touch screen for the available SYNC 3 system.

Other standard features included 4-G Wi-Fi; auto stop/start for the engine, designed to save fuel in stop-and-go traffic; hill-start assist; remote keyless entry with pushbutton start; curve control; and a perimeter alarm.

The tester came with the Black Appearance Package ($1,995), which added 18-inch black-painted machined-aluminum wheels, spray-in bedliner, and black running boards.

Also extra were the tray-style floor liners ($160) and the Ford keyless-entry keypad on the driver’s door ($95), which ensures that you’ll never be locked out.

We found the front bucket seats to be generally comfortable, even on a semi-long off-road drive. The rear seat is comfy enough for two adults, but tight for three. Rear knee room is limited, however – especially if the front seats are very far back on their tracks.

The Ranger’s ride was surprisingly cushy for a truck, and the cabin was quieter than expected, even at highway speeds. These features helped make our Ranger a decent road-trip vehicle.

There was plenty of power for our needs, even on some mountain grades, and the 10-speed transmission shifted smoothly and efficiently. We did not load our Ranger with rear passengers or cargo, however, and did not tow any trailers.

Our Ranger’s exterior color was the attention-grabbing Race Red, and the cabin came with Medium Stone leather seats.

Overall, Ford has done an excellent job designing and equipping the new Ranger, bringing a quality entry to the midsize pickup category.

Total sticker price of our 2020 Ranger Lariat SuperCrew with four-wheel drive and the FX4 Off-Road Package was $45,915, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at chambers@auto-writer.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

 

2020 Ford Ranger Lariat SuperCrew FX4 Off-Road pickup

 

The package: Midsize, four-door, turbocharged four-cylinder, gasoline-powered, four-wheel-drive, five-passenger crew cab pickup truck.

Highlights: Ford’s Ranger pickup returned to the U.S. market for 2019 after an eight-year absence. It comes in two cab/bed configurations with rear- or four-wheel drive. The Lariat four-wheel-drive model with the FX4 off-road gear is trail-ready, has decent power, and has lots of standard features.

Negatives: Middle rear seat tight for adults.

Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (gasoline).

Transmission: Ten-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 270 HP./310 foot-pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Air bags: Front seat-mounted side; overhead side-curtain, both rows.

Overall length: 210.8 inches.

Curb weight: 4,441 pounds.

Towing capacity: 7,500 pounds.

Cargo capacity: 1,560 pounds; 61-inch cargo bed.

Major competitors: Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline.

Fuel capacity/type: 18 gallons/ unleaded regular gasoline.

EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city/26 highway/23 combined (2WD); 20/24/22 (4WD).

Base price: $38,675 plus $1,195 freight (Lariat SuperCrew 4WD).

Price as tested: $45,915, including freight and options (includes FX4 package).

On the Road rating: 8.5 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail. Actual selling price may vary.

 


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