It's been eight years since the old but popular Ford Ranger was sold new here. In that time, Blue Oval fans hankering for a less-than-full-size truck were forced to endure the ignominy of buying a Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, or, heaven forbid, a Chevrolet Colorado. That's finally no longer the case. With the mid-size truck market up over 80 percent since 2014, the business case was too strong to keep the Ranger off-limits for Americans any longer. The arrival of the 2019 Ford Ranger marks not only a grand return of a storied name, but also helps keep the flames burning under the bottoms of the competition.
What's New for 2019
The Ranger is all-new for America. Elsewhere in the world, buyers have been able to purchase this same truck since 2015.
Choosing Your Ford Ranger
Upon the official opening of the ordering books, buyers will have a choice between three trim levels and two cabs, with the extended cab sporting a six-foot bed and the crew cab a five-footer. Only time will tell if the coming years will bring the excessive level of choice boasted by the F-150.
Regardless of what trim or cab is selected, all Rangers will use the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine hooked up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The motor's 2.3 liters of displacement might seem a little weak-chested for what's supposed to be a butch machine, but this little squirt has gumption – there's 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque hiding in those four cylinders. The power puts the new Ranger at the top of its class, beating out the optional V6s of the Colorado, Tacoma, and Frontier.
With the best-in-class power also comes best-in-class capability. Ford claims 7,500 pounds of trailer-hauling ability when equipped with the $495 Trailer Tow Package and a trailer brake controller, and 1,860 pounds of maximum payload capacity. The closest a competitor comes to touching these numbers is the Colorado's 7,000-pound tow rating or the Tacoma's 1,620 pounds of maximum payload capacity.
Off-road gumption isn't quite the level of the F-150 Raptor – though rumor has it a Raptor version might one day make it stateside – but the Ranger can still hold its own when the going gets rough if it's equipped with the $1,295 FX4 Package. Included with the FX4 are off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, skid plates, and a four-mode terrain management system. There's also what Ford calls Trail Control, which is in essence a cruise control for off-road applications. Set your desired trail speed, and the computers take over acceleration and braking duties, leaving you to focus on steering through the course. The FX4 requires four-wheel drive, which costs $4,160.
All Rangers come equipped with automatic emergency braking, even the base XL. XLT and Lariat models add lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, reverse-sensing, and blind-spot monitoring to the mix of active-safety features. Lariat models go one step further with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.
Widely-available options include Ford's famous door-mounted keypad ($95), running boards ($635), and an electronically-locking rear differential ($420).
Whatever 2019 Ford Ranger trim tickles your fancy, don't leave the dealer without getting one of the value packages. Besides unlocking access to other desirable options such as the Technology or Appearance Packages, they also include features most would deem indispensable these days.