Most of the time, I’m interested in either Volvos, 1970s-era Broughams and modern Lincolns and Cadillacs. This is of course reflected here on this fine site. However, I do try from time to time to expand my horizons. Like last year, when I test drove a new 2018 Subaru Outback Limited, in between reviews for a 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H and 2018 Lincoln Continental.
For instance, recently I decided to try out the all-new Ford Ranger. I thought it would be a good topic for a road test, as a lot of folks have been interested in the return of the smaller Ford pickup, ever since the original was discontinued after the 2011 model year.
I remember those trucks, because in 2011, after being downsized from my banking job, I found myself selling new Fords in Davenport. I even sold a new Ranger. It was a basic refrigerator white standard cab model. The buyer had had his previous truck totalled when, during a police chase, the pursuee clipped his car while evading several members of the Davenport police force. He was OK, but the truck was not. So he had to get a new Ranger while they were still being produced.
I remember driving it to the gas station after it had been detailed, to fill the tank before delivery. It was a definite small cab, but for my five foot ten frame, was fine. Though the rear window was a little too close to the back of my head for comfort. Lots of glass area, though!
I first saw a new-type Ranger at the 2018 Iowa-Illinois Regional auto show, held every February at the River Center in downtown Davenport, Iowa. It was a locked prototype in metallic gold. Didn’t look bad. And I wondered how long it would be before they became available for sale.
That time came early this year. A friend of mine, K. V. Dahl, runs Dahl Ford, and I messaged him recently to see if I could try one of the new Rangers out. End result: no problem. He told me to stop by and talk to the inventory manager, Mike Pepping. And so I found myself sitting in his office, shooting the breeze last Thursday afternoon.
Not only did he arrange a top-of-the-line Ranger Lariat for me, their detail staff ran it through the car wash and parked it out front. Not bad! They really roll out the red carpet, considering I’m just driving and not buying. Helps knowing the right folks I guess. And K.V. is a genuine car guy, with quite a few cool old cars in his car collection, including a few previously featured tight here on RG. But I digress.
As I walked out of the showroom to check it out, one of their detailing guys was installing a dealer plate on the chrome rear bumper. Time for a walkaround before proceeding. In short, the new Ranger is pretty nice looking, especially in black with the chrome wheels and chrome running boards. I prefer its lines to the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. While not as small as the earlier, outgoing Ranger, it is quite a bit smaller than the F150, and rolling aircraft carrier that is the F250, ha.
So, let’s see how this thing drives. I hopped in and pushed the now-ubiquitous start/stop button instead of turning a key. As I wheeled out of the lot, it seemed pretty composed.
Ride on a typical pot-holed winter, Midwestern city street reminded you that you were most certainly driving a truck and not a car. But on the smooth, recently completed parkway by the casino, it was very smooth.
It was very quiet too. While I didn’t push too hard on the go-pedal (it only had about 100 miles on the odometer), I did get it to giddy up some, and there was an agreeable little growl from the engine when stepped on. Acceleration, no doubt due to the turbo, was very good. Handling, while of course in keeping with it being a pickup, was nonetheless pretty good as well. Certainly nothing like maneuvering a full-size Ford pickup.
Glass area was good too. Just a few days prior to my Ranger drive, I tried out a 2017 Taurus SEL company car. And the Taurus was like the Batcave glass-wise when compared to the Ranger. Better sight lines, and the pillars just seemed way less massive.
There are a lot of Mini-Me F150 styling cues, especially from the back. Though the nose is much more car-like, almost like a Focus that bulked up.
According to Ford, the plain-Jane XL starts at $24,300, the XLT at $27,940 and the top-drawer Lariat at $32,210. However, my tester was loaded to the gills, with pretty much every available factory and dealer-installed option.
Standard equipment on the Lariat includes 2.3L turbo engine with a 10-speed automatic, rated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
While many may likely pan the new midsize pickup, they are apparently stout. As a friend of mine, Freddy Hollingsworth, related recently:
“I’ve already seen one of these crashed in a test drive. It held up very well it rear ended a new Corolla and the Ranger pushed the trunk of the Corolla in about a foot, broke the back glass and slightly buckled the roof on the Corolla. The Ranger had no visible damage whatsoever other than the bumper being tilted lightly downward at the wheels, so these Rangers definitely have strong frames.”
Or, as Al Czervik once famously stated, “Hey! you scratched my anchor!”
While I gave the Ranger a pretty decent drive, it was now approaching 5 PM, and since the dealership was right in the heart of rush hour central, I decided to head back. All in all, the 2019 Ranger Lariat is a pretty nice ride. Is it for everyone? No. But trucks, aren’t for everyone, though you could be forgiven for thinking that with the hundreds I see in traffic every week.
And of course, it is a brand-new model. Time will tell as to how these last, and how stout they are after they’ve been in production a few years. But as a smaller pickup, it’s an appealing vehicle. As I’ve said before, I’m not a truck guy and likely never will be, but I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of this rig.
If you want sheer size and volume, probably a F150 is a better bet. But if you just want a tow vehicle for a small camper or speedboat, or to tow a motorcycle, and don’t want to pilot a plus-sized pickup, the new Ranger is worth checking out. Try one and see. Although I’ll still probably be seeking out CPO MKZs when it’s time for me to trade in the Cartier!