One Gutsy Turbo-Four. The 2023 Ford Ranger is entering the new model year without any major changes. That’s not a bad thing for the midsize truck’s powertrain, which continues to be one of its strongest qualities. Unlike most midsize trucks, the Ranger is only available with a single powertrain, but Ford offers the Ranger with a great engine.

Every Ranger comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. While the Ranger’s turbo-four falls behind some competitors that are available with V6 engines, it offers plenty of performance and has strong towing and payload capacities.

The turbo engine in the Ranger delivers peppy performance with swift acceleration and smooth shifts from the 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine also offers a stout towing capacity of up to 7,500 pounds when properly equipped, which is one of the higher figures for the midsize class.

Good Off-Roading Capability.Ford offers the Ranger with a few off-road packages that considerably increase the truck’s off-roading capability. Unlike most midsize trucks, the Ranger is available with an off-road package for models with rear-wheel drive in addition to four-wheel-drive models.

RWD Rangers can be fitted with the FX2 package that includes an off-road suspension, an electronic locking rear differential, front tow hooks, off-road tires, and an off-road screen in the instrument cluster. The available FX4 is similarly equipped, but is available on 4WD models and includes Ford’s Terrain Management System, Trail Control off-road cruise control, a front bash plate, and heavy-duty skid plates.

The available Tremor Off-Road Package is slightly more capable thanks to more ground clearance, Fox off-road shocks, 32-inch all-terrain tires, underbody protection, and auxiliary switches. The Tremor package is limited to just the XLT and Lariat trims with the SuperCrew body style.

With one of these packages equipped, taking the Ranger off-road becomes enjoyable. Rangers with the Tremor package are noticeably capable off-road and get close to matching options like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Jeep Gladiator when the road ends.

2023 Ford Ranger Interior

Upgrading Is Worth It. The Ranger XL is a sparsely equipped work truck that will mostly appeal to consumers looking for a simple midsize truck. For most people, upgrading to the XLT trim is worth it, because it brings a more advanced infotainment system and more impressive safety features.

The XLT comes with an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which are a must for any modern vehicle. It also comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, and six audio speakers. The main reason for skipping over the base XL trim is because of its lack of standard safety features. The XLT adds lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist as standard.

Starting To Feel Dated. While the Ranger was introduced as a new model in 2019, it felt dated the second it arrived. Without any changes for 2023, the Ranger’s interior feels stale against updated competitors. The Ranger also has confusing switchgear and poor interior materials.

On the open road, the Ranger suffers from having an overly soft suspension that results in a bouncy ride. Even small bumps result in a boat cresting a wave, which could cause some passengers to become nauseous. The suspension setup also causes the Ranger’s nose to dive under hard braking, which can be unsettling.

Final Thoughts. The 2023 Ford Ranger does the bare minimum to skate by as a competitive option in the midsize segment. With nearly every other truck receiving a recent update, it’s time for Ford to overhaul the Ranger if it wants to be more competitive in the landscape. The Ranger is currently relying on its stout towing capacity and punchy turbocharged engine against newer competitors.

The Honda Ridgeline is a far more comfortable pickup truck with useful features, a standard V6 engine, an extensive list of standard safety features, and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

For consumers that want to do some serious off-roading, the Jeep Gladiator is essentially a Wrangler with a bed. It’s available with a V6 engine and a diesel engine, can tow up to 7,650 pounds, has removable doors, and has a unique look.

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