This is a pickup that really makes a style statement. Its looks have their origin in the Southern California custom craze of the `50s, when pickups ranked along with coupes and roadsters as the vehicle platform of choice. New for 1994, the Ford Ranger Splash is available in regular and extended cab configurations. The styling involves a sculptured look rather than the usual slab-sided pickup, look. The sculpturing provides step-up access to the cargo bed just behind the cab. It gives the 4x2 Ranger Splash a definite low-rider appearance, reminding us of the custom of channeling, or dropping the vehicle body lower on the frame, and modifying the suspension. We acknowledge that the Ranger Splash only recalls this look, because its clearances above the pavement are well within those of a normal 4x2 midsize pickup. The advent of the Ranger Splash is another move by Ford to remain a sales leader in light trucks. People who never would have considered such a vehicle in the past are now moving into the light truck market. Including vans, minivans and sport utility vehicles, light trucks now account for some 40 percent of all vehicle sales. One of the reasons for this is model selection-the number of light-truck models has doubled in the last 15 years, while that of car models has increased only 30 percent. The Ranger Splash certainly represents a dramatic new choice in the midsize truck field-neither Chevy nor Dodge has anything like it. The Ranger Splash doesn't look like, nor is it, an economy truck. Our well-equipped test model had the optional high-output 160-hp V6 engine, optional automatic transmission, air conditioning and upgraded interior with sport bucket seats. The bottom line sticker price was $17,033. Although no one else markets a truck exactly like this, the price puts it firmy in the midsize truck market against similarly equipped competition.