We Sneak a Quick Drive in a 2019 Ford Ranger

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We recently had the chance to drive the all-new 2019 Ford Ranger during a local Ford drive event open to potential customers. The official media drive for the Ford Ranger is not until December, but during the 2019 Ford Ranger Drive Tour, the automaker is giving Ford fans who register online a chance to drive the new Ranger and the 2019 Ford Edge ST SUV. Unbeknownst to Ford, we signed up, too.

Related: Ford Releases the Real Prices for 2019 Ranger

We had only seven minutes behind the wheel, which gave give us a chance to weave in and out of Saturday morning traffic and jump off a few stoplights to see what the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four-cylinder engine can do. Although we'll have more detailed driving impressions when we get to tow and haul with the Ranger in December, we got enough time to know the 2019 Ford Ranger and its four-cylinder engine will be something special. We believe it will meet the needs of many holdout Ranger fans as well as first-time truck buyers.

Pent-Up Demand

The drive event I attended was outside Los Angeles in the massive parking lot of the Santa Anita Park, a horse-racing track). People lined up about an hour before the event opened. Since participants had to preregister online, the event was pretty well organized despite some last-minute drop-ins. Ford had six Edge ST SUVs and two Rangers on hand; more than 40 people were lined up to drive the vehicles. Only one or two of the attendees hopped into the Edge, which may be an indication of the pent-up interest in the mid-size Ranger. Ford may have to adjust it production plans and add a shift or two.

Men dominated the crowd waiting to drive the vehicles, but we overheard several women talking trucks as we waited our turn. And wait we did, since with just two trucks for drives of five to seven minutes, the wait was hours for some. The mood, as you might imagine, was light and cheerful as attendees And the organizers removed one of the stand-alone Rangers from the static display and dropped it into the drive rotation to shorten wait times. To call this a huge miscalculation would be an understatement; if Ford had doubled the number of Rangers, many people would have likely jumped back in line for another drive.

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Our Drive

Our loop took us through some short coned-off parking lanes on aging pavement. Right away we could feel the solidity of the front end when initiating a right or left turn and when moving faster (more than 35 mph), even on corners. The steering was tight. When looking at the Ranger's profile, the front end dips a little more than the rear end, , which is typical mid-size pickups. Engineers design the bed height so that it levels when its loaded to maximum payload capacity. However, the majority of a pickup's life will be spent empty. We think the Ranger's front-end dip also helps its handling on the road and is meant to improve its driving dynamics. No doubt many companies will offer a quick leveling kit (we saw several at the 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show) for the Ranger's front end to give the truck a more horizontal stance. Still, we were surprised by how nimbly and quickly the Ranger responded to steering inputs as we navigated some tight parking lots and a local neighborhood. This truck did not feel heavy at all.

Top-of-the-Line Lariat

All the Rangers at the event were well-equipped top-of-the-line Lariat 4x4 crew cabs with the FX4 Package that includes the Ranger's exclusive Trail Control system, multiple terrain/traction settings, a locking rear differential and hill descent control. Think of Trail Control, now available on the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor as a type of cruise control for slow-go trail crawling that allows you to engage the system at a slow speed. It handles throttle and braking duties, and all you have to do is steer. During this drive we did not get to use the four-wheel-drive system or Trail Control, but we did notice a throttle responsiveness change and transmission shift point retune when briefly playing with the terrain settings. The different terrain settings change the throttle mapping, steering feel and transmission shifting when adjusted.

Related: 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor and Ranger Will Share Trail Control System

The independent front suspension feels planted and forgiving, even as we carved some harsh S turns in the parking lot (which our event representative did not appreciate). The rear suspension also felt solid, but we did detect a good amount of "jitter" after rolling over a few speed bumps and through potholes before the rear axle settled down. We should note the vehicles we drove were preproduction units and were driven from Detroit to Los Angeles just the week before. In fact, one of the spokesmen who drove the truck to L.A. said he was mobbed by Ranger fans at every fuel stop and got better than 27 mpg on the highway-biased route. We'll take both comments with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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The leather interior of the Lariat has plenty of soft-touch surfaces on the center storage console, doors and even across the front dash. It's clear that Ford engineers weren't trying to reinvent or push the existing mid-size pickup definitions into uncharted waters. Instead they focused on delivering a quality product to people who want function in a smaller package.

We didn't see a lot of the F-150 in this new truck. The navigation screen was a decent size, and radio and climate controls were easy to understand and identify. We like that Ford kept the easy-to-reach hand brake to the driver's right hand, and the 10-speed transmission offers a quick-touch thumb shifter on the stick. The backseat offers more room for adults than you might think, with relatively comfortable seating and an armrest. Even with that said, kids will have a much better experience in back.

Ranger Options

The Ford Ranger will not be offered with two wheelbase options, but it can be had as a SuperCab (6-foot bed) or SuperCrew (5-foot bed) with 4x4 or 4x2 drivetrains. We'll know more about the factory-rated 7,500 pounds of towing capacity when we attend the media drive, and we'll be looking more closely at payload ratings on mainstream models. Pricing, to date, ranges from $25,395 (XL 4x4 SuperCab) up to $39,480 (Lariat 4x4 SuperCrew), but the trucks we drove were fully loaded and likely listing for around $40,000.

If line length at this Ranger drive event is any indication, Ford will be quite happy with how many Ranger buyers are out there, ready to put that kind of money down for this new mid-size pickup.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams

 

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Comments

OK, since no one seems willing to address the supposed Jeep Gladiator leak. Here are some of the specs the document contained:

Max Towing = 7,650 lbs
Max Payload = 1,600 lbs
Water Fording = 30 inches
Removable soft top and hard tops
Rubicon = front and rear Dana 44s with lockers, sway bar disconnect and "Unmatched crawl ratios".

3.6L v6 with 8 speed auto or 6 speed manual trans.
3.0L diesel (Late arrival) with 8 speed auto.

Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Not sure if anyone else has realized this but the F150 is the smallest Full size truck they make now with width and length the chevy and gmc are 82 inches wide now not including mirrors and the Ram is the same around 82 inch's tundra is 79.9 i believe its not a problem but just an FYI to anyone looking to fit a truck in a garage or keep it in the lines better i am a GM fan but not happy about the width being 2 inches more and they took away adjusting pedals and seat belts.

You the the new ford F450 truck for 2020 https://bit.ly/2ON3Jyn

Dark days ahead for GM. Soon it will be Ford builds not only more full size trucks but also more trucks overall.The impending lose of GM fan base phrase "builds more trucks, got any questions" is just a very short time away. The broad motoring press panning of the "new" GM full size trucks certainly was not in the game plan. This coupled with the Ranger certainly to sales eclipse the Mid size twins will certainly lead to panic and massive discounting of the GM cash cows far sooner than projected.

Jeep Slaver is not the vehicle driven.

No Diesel.... no deal!

Front end looks like new Ram
The Ranger can't survive A Canyon or Colorado

GMs version of the Olsen twins are done. In gave the Olsen twins might have more relevance

Oh for an EV. I'd buy it.

I’m so sick of EGO-boost.
I drive a fleet Ford truck with an EGO-boost and I live in AZ.
When i kept having misfire codes and poor performance I took it San Tan Ford. The Engineering rep finally got involved and the answer is this: over 100 degrees ambient temps use 89 octane. Towing or hauling, driving in the mountains use 91.
Can you use 87? Yes. But, over long periods you may experience misfires and poor fuel economy.
This wizzard of might from light uses additional fuel loading, thanks to the cooling effect of DI, and extreme spark control, to avoid knock. How extreme? Using a live scan -7 degrees on a 6% grade at 75% load. That’s not WOT or 100% load (engine won’t rev past a specific RPM), that’s real world EGO-boost. The 6.2 gasser never gets anywhere near that.
Towing the same dump-box tandem trailer, very little difference in fuel economy.
I’d rather have a ranger with a 3.5 or 3.7 V6

JEEP GLADIATOR PICK UP IS ON IT'S WAY,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nesZiQfR758

Agreed regarding Ecothirst. No thanks.

I'm not surprised there's tons of discussion about the coming Jeep Gladiator here on the first-drive story of the coming Ford Ranger. Both pickups will certainly get a lot of attention from current pickup owners, and will very likely be luring buyers who have never owned a pickup before to dealership lots. We're guessing total vehicle sales for the mid-size segment will be taking a huge leap by December 2019. Still, will be interesting where these two new players will be stealing sales from. Could be some other half-tons but more likely the few remaining large sedan buyers and dwindling three-row fullsize crossover sales. From what we're seeing so far, the Ranger looks like a strong pickup choice and the Jeep looks like an old-school SUV choice (five-lug axles, live front axle, soft-top). We'll know more at LA Auto Show.

F_ck you guys!! F_ck you M. Willams!! No Ranger will ever beat the Bison Colorado or my uncles 6.2 GMC! You guys S_ck!!

The mid-size market will not likely grow more than 10%. The same number of sales will be split between more brands. This could make it hard to justify the Canyon. The ranger will sell good to begin with (kind of like the Camaro when it came back).

Dark days ahead for GM. .

Posted by: GM Blows Chunks | Nov 16, 2018 3:44:23 PM

excerpt from article above:

more than 40 people were lined up to drive the vehicles.

Yep, a reason to be worried…...HAHAHA!

Really looks like the new Ram. If it ever comes with a Diesel, I will take a second look. I like this look of the Canyon the best of all mid size trucks. The Ranger looks good, and will sell well.

Sounds like a good choice as a light-duty pickup. Looking forward to a more in-depth report. Hoping to hear more about seating and interior comfort.

Comparing the upcoming Jeep or Ranger consider which will be bringing the big bucks at an auction 25 years in the future. My money is on the Jeep. Look at CJ8 Scramblers versus old rangers or S10 Chevs.

The jeep truck will be short lived, it looks as goofy as the GM gorognites on this site, The Ranger is the real deal.

Did I read suspension jitters?
PapaJim always critical of Ridgeline with it's rear independent suspension. This jitters is not present in Ridgeline with rear independent suspension like car. Bumps pot holes imperfections in street or road will make conventional pickup do this.

Look at CJ8 Scramblers versus old rangers or S10 Chevs.
Posted by: Don E. | Nov 17, 2018

Don E shows a poor understanding of the concerns driving buyers of collectible cars. S10s and Rangers were made by the millions---they are NOT rare. The Jeep? Very rare.

Rare drives up prices.

C'mon Don, were you pulling my leg?

I might buy this but not with a stinking diesel in it. Buddy has a Collie with the diesel. Yes he gets good fuel mileage and will tow a nice sized trailer, but his garage and the truck smells like diesel. I road with him one day and my hunting clothes stunk for days...

I believe that is what Don E said that the Wrangler would bring bigger bucks in the future than the midsize Ranger and Colorado. The same could be said for the current half ton Fords, Chevy, Rams, and GMCs which are also made by millions. Future values will be based on what collectors will pay for a specific model. Old Nash, Frazer, and Hudson are very rare cars but not worth what a 57 Chevy is and there were many 57 Chevies made. Many collectors want the tri-five Chevies and will pay a sizable price for one.

I buy a vehicle on if it fits my needs and if I like it not on what its future value will be. Too hard to predict what might be a future collectors item

@Dave; yr buddy's diesel truck must be from older generation, in fact outright dangerous if fumes are coming in the cabin - I own a modern global Ranger w/3.2 diesel; all the old myths of yesteryear are gone today; much quieter, exhaust is almost clear & less smelly....

This little pickup is an example of DOA - Dead on Arrival for the simple Ford folks. 4 years late to the game, no powertrain options aside from the automatic and an overboosted 2.3 EB famous for needing premium to make power and blowing headgaskets. Zero reliable engine options. No Ranger Raptor, no real off-road package, and the 4WD setup is almost certainly the unreliable and famously weak IWE design. Ford will price it too high and the first 3 or 4 years will be plagued by endless reliability issues.

I think the 2.3 turbo is a great choice for this sized truck and I think the Ranger will be a good truck.

I don't really understand all the hoopla about the Ranger though. It was never anything more than a throwaway delivery truck that was cheap to buy and maintain. Yet, all of a sudden there seems to be this nostalgic feeling around the new one.

The reason for the "hoopla" . The Ranger was at one time the best selling small truck. The Ranger platform launched the Explorer. The Ranger has enough good history to be the second place mid-size truck.

The reason for the "hoopla" . The Ranger was at one time the best selling small truck.

Posted by: Just the truth | Nov 19, 2018 8:08:09 AM

Like I said, it was a throwaway truck that in 28 years underwent on major design change. The Ranger wasn't known for anything other than being cheap. In fact, I believe you could still buy a brand new Ranger for under $10,000 up until the end.

I owned a 91 Ranger and it was okay but I have never look back on it wishing I still had it or that Ford would make another. It was the Crown Vic of trucks.

@ Jack. Other may have different point of view. The price of Rangers on the used market likely reflect perceived value.

Its the pretend truck was the best selling pretend truck in NA making a come back. A lot of people will buy it. Can it become the best selling again? Hard to say toy is FIRMLY entrenched. I have a feeling the current #2 is in for a demotion in the not so distant future. Would love to see Renault get it in gear in this segment. The Frontier has lagged too long for no good reason.

@ Jack. Other may have different point of view. The price of Rangers on the used market likely reflect perceived value.


Posted by: Just the truth | Nov 19, 2018 9:03:56 AM

That's kind of my point. Perceived value and actual value are often two very different things.

The current perception of the past Ranger being this great truck is not real. It was mediocre at best.

The amount of press the new Ranger is getting just seems over-the-top to me. Sure it's a nice looking truck and I'm sure it will be fine but just like the new Colorado and Canyon it's just a US version of the global mid-sizer. Why anyone would stand in line to drive a Ranger is just nuts to me.

I went to the Charlotte Auto Show over the weekend (11/17) specifically to drive the new Ranger and check out the Tacoma and GM twins all in a matter of a hour. I walked away impressed with the Ranger for the following reasons….1) The Ford rep riding shotgun encouraged me to jump on the gas at every chance and this truck has plenty of get up and go with only slight turbo lag. 2) The interior quality in the Ranger was in my opinion, best in class with Tacoma a close second. 3) The Ranger SuperCrew rear bench seat was by far the most roomy and comfortable (Tacoma easily the worst). 4) This truck is nice and quiet, even while hard on the gas.

So will I buy a new Ranger??? As much as I loved this new entry in the mid-size market, the answer is a NO! For me there are two pretty big voids in the Ranger option sheet that is a deal breaker for me. #1 The fact that I CAN’T order a SuperCrew with a 6’ foot bed. #2 I want a NA engine, not a turbo (3.3 liter V-6 from the F-150 please). Most of my driving is non-highway, short distances in stop and go traffic. Having a turbo with my type of driving is just a bad idea.

So if the bed length and engine are my sticking point with the Ranger would I “move up” to a F-150? Absolute not!... Too big and too expensive! I’ll instead hold off another year or two and drive my 2002 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew (purchased new) until the mid-size market heats up some more. There are bound to be new players jumping back into the north American market (Jeep, Nissan & Ram). GM and Toyota will finally have to step up their game or will lose market share.

In the meantime... If Ford wants to be the mid-size segment leader, they're going to have to address the lack of basic options.

I wonder if it will come with the 5th wheel prep option. Lots of small 5th wheels out there that would pair nicely with the new F100.

Most of my driving is non-highway, short distances in stop and go traffic. Having a turbo with my type of driving is just a bad idea.

@Brian in NC

Test drive one. Your comment (copied above) shows me that you don't understand how the 2.3 Ecoboost will address those short trip, boulevard driving demands.

It will TOTALLY SHINE doing that kind of driving.

1) The Ford rep riding shotgun encouraged me to jump on the gas at every chance and this truck has plenty of get up and go with only slight turbo lag

@Brian in NC

Ok, I'm a dope. I re-read your comment. Please reply and explain what you did not like about the 2.3 engine. You said it had plenty of zip, but what's not to like about that?

I have serious doubts that Ford will want to shoe-horn a big old 3.3 into the narrow engine compartment of the new Ranger.

@Papajim, Don't get me wrong.... I loved every bit of the new Ranger (except for the deal breakers I previously listed). The 2.3 EB is a great engine with plenty of power and extremely well suited for this truck!!! My concern is with how my short distance, around town only driving will drive up the maintenance costs (due to excessive carbon build-up). Many times, my current truck (F-150 w/ 5.4 V-8) isn't even up to prime operating temperatures before I cut it off only to repeat 4 hours later. This type of use isn't ideal for any engine type, but as far as I've read, even worse with turbos (not just Ecoboost either). That’s why I’d prefer a less complex, NA V-6 engine. Fords 3.3 liter V-6 found in the F-150 puts out great numbers (290 HP & 265 FPT) that would serve the Ranger well.

Despite all the hater comments on here, I predict Ranger will be an instant hit. Class-leading payload; class-leading towing (not counting an inline 4 diesel that starts at $36K; that's $11K more than a base Ranger truck). Moreover, it's probably going to be class-leading mpg for any gas-powered truck of any size, which will not be very hard to do in the class currently with gas power, as the most fuel efficient gas engine in the class currently only ties the highest FE F150 with respect to the EPA estimate; best ride and handling; a turbo 4 mated to a ten-speed that's standard and cheaper than the other, optional V6s that will all be inferior in performance to this small turbo 4; and more than all of that; many people remember the Ranger which went away in 2011 that was getting long in the tooth but once out sold even Tacoma. The Ranger was once beloved and has been wanted back in the market by literally millions of North Americans.

As for the sudden, never-heard-from-before enthusiasts of NA V6s; I don't get you guys/gals or where you came from. Until recently, I had never read a comment from anyone who praised an NA V6 as an ideal gas engine for any truck. In F150, it sells less than 10% uptake. All the V6s in the mid-size class are ho-hum; listing big numbers but most enthusiasts state they are all under powered. Ford's only real choice to install is a 3.3L, as the 3.7L seems to be gone; and so too the 3.5L; both of which were about the same as the 3.3L. The Duratec 2.5L is all but gone in North America and too ancient anyway. As for the 3.3L, it has dual fuel injection; 12.2:1 compression ratio (not exactly a number that would indicate durability or reliability); 290 hp but it doesn't peak until redlining at 6500 RPM (another indicator that it could be easily over worked). It has a measly 265 peak ft-lb torque peaking at 4,000 RPM. Another way to put this is that much of those performance listed numbers are unusable and it would be very disturbing to try to use what it has as a work vehicle. Why would anyone prefer that engine, with that low-level of refinement versus a turbo 4 that will give more down much lower and better mpg to boot when driving like an adult? I've got a regular cab F150 with the 2.7L (the one without dual fuel injection); 37,000 miles; no issues with the power train whatsoever; averaging 24 mpg real world, measuring tank-to-tank. The lowest mpg I've recorded with the wonderfully refined Ecoboost that can go right up a 5% grade in sixth gear while cruising at 1550 RPM, is 21.7. I can't imagine trying to drive an F150 with a NA V6 following up the refinement and great fuel economy of a Ford Ecoboost pickup truck. That truck cost me $27.8K in 2015. Ford value just kills the competition, because they are the only ones who offer advanced power train choices at all trim levels and configurations; starting with a base truck and a small premium. In the case of Ranger, they are just foregoing a weasly NA four banger that almost no one buys anyway; and foregoing a V6 that would be an inferior choice if it were offered and not any cheaper to build and install than a turbo 4. The only power train I could see as a possible choice that makes sense for Ranger is the 2.7L Ecoboost, but then if they offered it, no one would get the 2.3L, and Ford could not get acceptance of the 2.3L-4, and once people have this power train in this truck, it will be beloved.

The base price for an F150 is around $29K after destination; before incentives that are usually around $3K and before dealer fees and taxes and such which vary from place-to-place and state to state. Add a 2.7L Ecoboost, and you're still under $30K. Add a V8, and you're still under $31K. Add the first option package to give you power glass, cruise, blue tooth, and you're at $32K. Take the $3K incentive and you're back down to $29K before the add-ons that must be paid for any vehicle. Everyone keeps saying that full-size trucks are too expensive and what they really mean is that the full-size truck they want...the one's with all that needless equipment on it and extra seats and doors is too much, because a base truck from Ford with an added $995 2.7L Ecoboost or a $1995 V8, with good mpg is not an expensive truck when comparing against other vehicles.

The base price for an F150 is around $29K after destination; before incentives that are usually around $3K and before dealer fees and taxes and such which vary from place-to-place and state to state. Add a 2.7L Ecoboost, and you're still under $30K. Add a V8, and you're still under $31K. Add the first option package to give you power glass, cruise, blue tooth, and you're at $32K. Take the $3K incentive and you're back down to $29K before the add-ons that must be paid for any vehicle. Everyone keeps saying that full-size trucks are too expensive and what they really mean is that the full-size truck they want...the one's with all that needless equipment on it and extra seats and doors is too much, because a base truck from Ford with an added $995 2.7L Ecoboost or a $1995 V8, with good mpg is not an expensive truck when comparing against other vehicles.

Ranger with rear seat delete is around $24.5K after destination and before incentives which will come in about a year. It comes with power glass and mirrors. The only thing it needs for me is cruise, but to get cruise, one has to take a bunch of crap I neither want or need. I think I'd get the base model; when I wear out the tires, get an aftermarket set of wheels/tires much cheaper than what it takes to get it stock, because then you have to take a bunch of crap for thousands more. Get an after market cruise control; no chrome on the work truck. Perfect. 16" rims; remember those. That's the one I'd take.

once people have this power train in this truck, it will be beloved.
Posted by: Greg Faulkner | Nov 21, 2018

@Faulkner

I struggled to follow your point but I think you are referring to the 2.7 Ford six. From the get-go I advocated for the 2.3 turbo because an in-line engine will fit so much better between the control arms. Talk to service techs to spend their day servicing these turbo vehicles and they don't seem to mind the in-line engines but the V-configurations are a nightmare under the hood, regardless of the brand.

BMW for instance sells a ton of cars/SUVs will the 3.0 turbo six in-line motor and there's ample room under the hood for performing common service procedures. Back when cars/trucks had more space under the hood routine service was a snap. Nowadays changing spark plugs (or belts/hoses?) is like doing brain surgery.

I for one think the Ranger with the 2.3 boosted engine will be a treat, on the street and in the service bay.

Replace the blue oval with a Sheep head and this is a Ram looking truck

At least Ford knows how to roll out new pickups. It's a great opportunity to reach out to the customer base.

At least Ford knows how to roll out new pickups.
Posted by: Ken | Nov 22, 2018

That part of your comment really caught my eye.

All of the automakers have occasional issues with hitting the target on-time, and dead center. The last big F150 rollout (in 2015?) comes to mind. Nobody beats Ford in the "ideas" department but I'm not sure they always hit the target when it comes to on-time execution.

This new Ranger is a great example. If Dearborn had brought the new Ranger to market a couple of years ago, they would have given their competitors a real spanking with that truck.

Unfortunately for Ford 2019/2020 now promises a more competitive Chevy Colorado, a new Frontier and a Jeep pickup. There's no question that Ford is very late coming to market with the Ranger and despite my personal enthusiasm for the 2.3 turbo 10 speed, not everyone shares my outlook.



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