Ford Ranger vs. Chevrolet Colorado

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - March 27, 2019

Absent from US shores for a while, the Ford Ranger is back to take on the competition. It’s been part of Ford’s global fleet since 2012, but only now has it returned home. It meets increasingly stiff opposition, including the stalwart Chevrolet Colorado. Boasting GM’s typical range of trims and powertrains, the Chevy has historically been outsold only by the Toyota Tacoma. Is the Ranger good enough to shift the balance?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Ranger & Colorado »

What the Ranger Gets Right

While the Colorado may boast the lower starting price, the Ranger’s value looks better once its engine is factored in. Although still a four-cylinder engine, the Ranger’s turbocharged power puts it in competition with the Colorado’s upgraded V6.

That V6 requires upgrading the Colorado to a nicer trim and transmission, which puts it close to $27,000 to start. That’s over $1,000 more than the equivalent Ranger. Most customers will upgrade more from there, but the Ranger’s performance-to-value ratio continues to be strong.

This is partly because of the turbo-four’s performance, which is excellent. With 7,500 pounds of towing capacity, the Ranger is a class leader. The Colorado can tow 7,700 pounds, but only with the pricey diesel engine – the V6 can manage 7,000.

But perhaps the Ranger’s biggest advantage is in the safety department. The Ford comes with standard automatic emergency braking, with a lot more active safety technologies available as options.

Automatic emergency braking isn’t even an option on the Colorado, and neither are common features like rear cross-traffic alert. In a segment as popular as this, that’s a real problem.

What the Colorado Gets Right

Where the Ranger has just a single engine on tap, the Colorado provides much more versatility. A less powerful four-cylinder engine is available for those who don’t need quite so much grunt, and the diesel engine is a towing champion and thrifty to boot.

The smaller engine helps the Colorado to a lower starting price than the Ranger. Plus, the Colorado can still be had with a manual transmission. The Ranger only comes with a 10-speed automatic.

While the Ranger may win the towing wars (between the gas engines, at least), the Colorado is arguably the more versatile car. Its wide feature range can make it a ranch-ready workhorse or a city showpiece, and it seems equally ready for both roles.

That versatility extends beyond the pavement. While Ford has yet to offer a dedicated off-road trim, Chevy’s Z71 and ZR2 trims should please adventurers. Ford will eventually release a Raptor version of the Ranger, but it will likely be harder on the budget than Chevy’s version.

How Much Does Safety Count?

This is a tricky battle, mostly because the virtues of these trucks are in different areas. The Colorado offers a wider range of options and a slightly more stylish package (especially on the interior), while the Ranger offers a single capable powertrain and strong safety.

Which truck you like may come down to how much safety features matter. Safety aside, the Colorado is stiff competition and incredibly customizable. If safety is a priority, the Ford is the clear choice.

Our Verdict: Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger scores a victory here, but only just. The Chevy Colorado may make more sense for many buyers with its versatile range and true off-roading trims. But we can’t overlook the Colorado’s poor safety equipment and middling crash-test scores. The Ranger is a capable truck in its own right, and it makes more of an effort to get everyone home safely.

Take a closer look at the Ford Ranger »

Take a closer look at the Chevrolet Colorado »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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