By on December 18, 2018

2019 Ford Ranger

If you’ve paid attention to any of Ford’s marketing lately, you’ll know the company has been making vehicles for 115 years. When it comes to F-Series, the best-selling pickup truck line in the country, they’ve been ahead of the pack for 41 years. It should shock nobody that the company knows how to build a pickup truck.

There’s more to the success of the 2019 Ford Ranger than just whether or not the company can build a good pickup truck. The Ranger is a good truck. But will it be able to draw new customers to the growing midsize truck segment, and will it be able to attract people from Colorado and Tacoma?

(Full disclosure: Ford flew me to San Diego and put me up in a nice hotel in La Jolla, provided me with food, and let me drive their new Ranger. I kept a little Ford Ranger backpack and declined some other goodies. Also, I was supposed to go paragliding but there wasn’t enough wind and I didn’t want to crash land on a nude beach.)

How good is the new Ford Ranger? As of this writing, it is easily the best truck in the segment. For a refresher, the midsized Ranger is powered by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that started life in the Mustang. There are several changes made for truck duty, the biggest one involving lower availability of torque. In the Ranger it makes 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Power is sent to either the rear wheels or a four-wheel-drive system through the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the upcoming Jeep Gladiator and the current Toyota Tacoma, a manual transmission isn’t an option.

2019 Ford Ranger

Normally on press launches like this, the manufacturer brings out a fleet of fully-loaded vehicles for journalists to drive. In this case, Ford had a wide variety of trims and configurations. I figured you folks would be way more interested in a short-cab XLT two-wheel drive with the towing package than a fully-loaded Lariat. So that’s the one I grabbed when I landed in San Diego and hit the streets.

A base XL Ranger starts at $25,395 after a $1,095 delivery charge. The Lightning Blue XLT tester you see here is $36,635 with destination. Some key features include the trailer-tow package and a technology package that includes SYNC3 infotainment, satellite radio, and full-stop adaptive cruise control.

Towing is rated at 7,500 pounds, which Ford is quick to point out is best-in-class for towing with a gasoline engine. Max towing is achieved with either the 2WD or 4WD trucks. For comparison, the Colorado diesel is rated at 7,600 lbs for gasoline and the Gladiator, when it goes on sale, will be at 7,650 with its towing package.

Despite being a mid-grade truck, the inside of the Ranger is a nice place to be. The interior plastics are significantly better than what’s offered on Nissan’s Frontier. They’re also superior to the segment sales-leading Tacoma. They are on par or better than what you see in a Colorado or GMC Canyon.

2019 Ford Ranger

The cloth seats feel durable and are power-adjustable for distance and height. Disappointingly, the seatbacks are manually adjustable for rake. And, while the SuperCab’s rear seats are useable in a pinch for children, they really only make sense as an area to store things.

Despite the limited usability of the rear seats, there are two USB ports and a 110-volt AC plug in the back, just in case

After a tiny hint of turbo lag, the 2.3 delivers a wave of torque that accelerates the truck briskly. Despite there being 10 gears to choose from, the truck always seems to be in the right gear with little hunting. As Ford spends more time working on this transmission, the calibration keeps getting better.

I also like the way EcoBoost engines make power. The wave of torque down low feels solid in a truck, and I prefer this engine over anything the competition offers in gas. It’s a far superior experience to the gas V6 in the Tacoma and punchier than the gas V6 in a Colorado.

I get why they’re only offering one engine in Ranger. Everyone gets the upgraded engine without having to get an upgraded engine, so to speak. The base truck won’t feel like a penalty box but the engine delivers the high performance buyers expect in the premium truck.

At the risk of sounding like Ford’s marketing team, if you’re going to have just one engine to choose from, this is the one to have.

2019 Ford Ranger

Steering is spot on, with the weighting of the Tacoma and the responsiveness of the Colorado. While feedback is still better in Tacoma, the accuracy in Ranger is there, and based on the off-road course Ford set up, I can’t think of a steering rack I’d rather have than the one in the Ranger.

Towing performance is also solid. Most people in this class are towing around 5,000 pounds of stuff, and the Ranger tows it, no problem. There is a tow setting for the truck and the blind-spot monitoring covers the trailer, but a trailer brake controller doesn’t come standard from the factory.

Rick Bolt, Ranger’s chief engineer, tells me it’s configured for a trail brake controller to be installed easily, and buyers should be able to get assistance from their dealer on getting the factory-approved one installed.

Basically, it comes down to picking nits to find faults with Ranger. The rear sliding window isn’t powered on any trim. While it might not be a big deal for most midsize buyers, when you have the SuperCrew cab you can’t reach the window from the driver’s seat to open or close it.

Additionally, the rear tailgate isn’t damped. Most new trucks have a spring installed that makes raising and lowering the tailgate easier. The additional added benefit comes from being able to open the tailgate and not have it slam down.

While I consider it a “surprise and delight” feature over necessity, I brought up this concern with Bolt. Because the tailgate is lighter than most – it’s aluminum in the Ranger – it apparently becomes more difficult to get the dampening right, especially in the cold. While it could’ve been done, the time and money involved in making it work wasn’t a priority for the team.

2019 Ford Ranger

But as a I said in the beginning, the Ranger is a good truck. I’d buy the new Ranger. That’s not the challenge the Ranger faces.

This is the first time in a long while that there’s a truck segment Ford isn’t dominating. Tacoma is king here, and their customers are fiercely loyal. Ford understands that, though this is the first time they’re on the other side of the loyalty coin.

Will Ford be able to take Tacoma buyers? Ranger’s marketing manager Chad Callander thinks there’ll be a few. He knows some customers went to Tacoma when Rangers disappeared early this decade.

But new customers are where growth opportunities lie. The midsize segment has exploded in recent years, which is why Colorado and Canyon returned, why Honda makes a midsize truck, and why Ford thinks now is the time to return with Ranger. Callander believes that’s where customers will come from.

What about previous Ranger customers? Ford’s Brian Bell, retail marketing manager for Ranger and F-150, tells me that midsize truck buyers are different than they were when Ranger was last on sale. He understands the new truck isn’t a compact offering like the old truck, but actual buyers in this segment are looking for something different than before.

He views Ranger as part of the overall package for a customer. Trucks like Raptor are driven to a location to go Raptoring. Ranger is a tool to get you to the activity that you want to do, but not the activity itself.

Bell’s research also suggests that while Ranger buyers might be weekend warriors, they aren’t the same type of do-it-yourselfer that opts for the F-150.

2019 Ford Ranger

For some of you, that’ll be a bummer. If you were hoping for an inexpensive compact truck like the old Ranger, you’re probably disappointed. But I can’t argue with Ford’s decision to go after the largest buyer profile of midsize trucks.

As for pricing, the Ranger can get pricey quick. A Lariat FX4 is the price of the more off-road capable ZR2 Colorado and TRD Pro Tacoma. But the equipment level in both of those trucks is lacking compared to Ranger. The Ranger is nicer to live with every day than the Tacoma.

That’s true at any price or any trim level.

Ford has the right product for a growing segment. Will it be a sales success? Ford has a history of building successful trucks, so I wouldn’t bet against them. But with Gladiator coming and solid refreshes from the competition, this segment is white hot and only getting hotter.

[Images © 2018 Chad Kirchner/TTAC]

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160 Comments on “2019 Ford Ranger First Drive – Fighting For First Place Out of the Box...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    “The rear sliding window isn’t powered on any trim.”

    Straight to the Hague!

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Is this the typical “It’s the best vehicle in this class I’ve ever driven!” article that auto journos are seemingly required to write whenever a new model is introduced, only to revisit the same vehicle 6 to 12 months later and find flaws that went unmentioned in the first article? Perhaps so. Or perhaps this isn’t actually a Ford at all. It doesn’t have a black interior. It doesn’t have a manual hood prop rod. And according to this the interior plastics are actually good quality.

    I think we need to wait for another few reviews before jumping to any conclusions.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yeah it seems hyperbolic, even if objectively it is the freshest offering with the most potent powertrain.

      “Ford flew me to San Diego and put me up in a nice hotel in La Jolla, provided me with food, and let me drive their new Ranger. I kept a little Ford Ranger backpack and declined some other goodies. Also, I was supposed to go paragliding but there wasn’t enough wind and I didn’t want to crash land on a nude beach.)

      How good is the new Ford Ranger? As of this writing, it is easily the best truck in the segment. ”

      Uh okay lol

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve driven every midsize truck this year. It’s the most well rounded truck you can buy right now. Drive one, see for yourself. I stand by my claim.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          If it walks like a journosaur and talks like a journosaur…

          All I had to do was read through a few other reviews (4cyl Silverado among them) to confirm my suspicions.

          John Davis without the tan and 1990s windbreaker. Everything is good and great, and the best!

          I’m not some vehement anti-Ford guy, the Ranger indeed sounds like a great truck, I’m just upset with the degradation in quality of reviews here at TTAC.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “Chad Kirchner Consulting offers writing, marketing, SEO, and social media services to a variety of clients. Extensive experience in the technology and automotive spaces.”

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks for stalking my outdated LinkedIn. Much appreciated. Oh and thanks for the clicks on my other stories!

          • 0 avatar
            Tim Healey

            We try to be honest, which doesn’t necessarily mean crapping on everything just because. Don’t worry — we’ll be nasty when it’s called for. I have a EcoSport review in queue that won’t be very nice.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        La Jolla is really nice this time of year.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Why not accept all of these goodies, and then give them away to readers as contest prizes? That’s what some other places do.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …How good is the new Ford Ranger? As of this writing, it is easily the best truck in the segment. ”

        Uh okay lol…

        Agreed with @gtem.

        It is easily the best truck in the segment.

        Well, given it is the newest truck in the segment and where the Tacoma, Frontier, Colorado, and Canyon are in their refresh cycles — I would hope so!

        • 0 avatar
          jeoff

          Not getting all this criticism. So, you aren’t saying that it isn’t the best truck in the segment, but saying that is is stating the obvious, because it’s the newest? Just like the Dart and the Mote Carlo were the best cars in their segment when they were first introduced? (they weren’t) At any rate, all he can do is compare the truck with the currently offered competition—he did that—what’s the problem?

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        gtem

        Q:What do all these trucks have in common: Ranger, Gladiator, Colorado, Canyon, Frontier & Ridgeline

        A:Made in the USA

        Tacoma Hecho en Tijuana Mexico

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Not completely true. Many of them are built in San Antonio – and in case you were wondering, that’s in Texas. My 2013 was built in San Antonio.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            dukeisduke

            San Antonio runs on 2 shifts, and its main product is the Tundra with a few Tacomas mixed in.
            Tijuana runs on 3 shifts and its sole product is the Tacoma.

            BTW- Toyota is building another factory in Guanajauto Mexico where its planning to build Tacomas. Due to open in 2020 as Trump’s reelection campain is kicking into high gear.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          @Pete

          Uh, okay? Thanks for the info I guess?

        • 0 avatar
          CC

          And almost exclusively designed somewhere else.
          I find it interesting that the US motoring media sem to go to some lengths to NOT mention that the Ranger is in fact designed and engineered in AUSTRALIA.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I mean if you’re gonna crash land, might as well be a nude beach in La Jolla!

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        Interestingly. CNET Roadshow released their review today also and complained about the interior – dated-looking controls and cheap plastics. So maybe it IS a Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      We shall see if TTAC changes it’s tune, however it was founded to be the place where they don’t pander to the manufacturer and have yet to openly do so in an organized fashion.

      Given the many years of honest and blunt feedback here at TTAC, i’m inclined to have the benefit of the doubt rest with their history, not with hypotheticals.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Actually, a certain EIC was shown the door because, well a lot of things, but among others for being too cozy with a certain Japanese automaker. The comments about that are documented in various articles written by former authors.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Why did they stop being authors? Who was shown the door for being cozy with a Japanese automaker? Doesn’t any reputation for objectivity become moot when you’re absorbed by AutoGuide? What’s your role here?

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Who was it….. “allegedly”….. if you want to qualify it that way.

          I dont even know who the EIC is/was. I have a pretty good guess though.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I assume his name started with Bertel and ended with Schmidt. As they say in Goodfellas when Tommy gets wacked it was for that…and alot of other things. Still miss him around here though.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I’m pretty sure Bertel was shown the door for offending the SJW fascists. Deplatforming him and then lying about why he was booted is their standard operating procedure.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed. And I’m a GM guy, but I don’t see the Blue Oval phonin’ it in with this relaunch.

        ESPECIALLY after all the brouhaha over canning the entire car line save Mustang.

        And I’ll bet they’re hoping some current Taurus/Fusion owners will consider it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You might’ve had a point, right up until you started bashing Ford’s product line. Now, unfortunately, you sound biased.

  • avatar
    brt

    I guess $25k base isn’t terrible, but the sub-Ranger “Courier” that has been rumored is the truck for me.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Agreed. I just want a new truck the size of my ‘03 Ranger with modern safety and engine. Keep the weight in the mid 3000s and a 2.5L making ~185 hp & lb-ft would be plenty. They can keep the other bells & whistles, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        A lot of people want a much smaller truck. That’s why Ford is now teasing us with a supposedly unibody truck to come out around 2022 or so. But that’s the problem, too. They should have brought that out INSTEAD of this new Ranger and opened a market that had no competition in it.

  • avatar
    gtem

    How was that turbo-lag offroad? What was the offroad course made up of?

    Great looking truck apart from those blindingly-blinged out wheels.

    • 0 avatar

      Admittedly, I didn’t notice the lag off-road. It seemed only on road and only in certain situations.

      Off road was dirt and sand engineered to be impossible to complete in 2WD. Mostly two track style trails.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      If I’m reading the article right, one of the two Chads said this was a truck for driving to the trail head, not a truck for driving on the trail.

      Toyota owns the midsized market because people buy Tacomas as keepers. Toyota doesn’t change them drastically every three years to make yours look old, Tacomas are sized to serve your actual needs, and you don’t get a tax benefit for turning them in every year or two. F150s are great for people who won’t own them long enough to replace the original set of tires. I’ll be surprised if the Ranger still has a large number buyers in its second model year. Ford has one serious stumbling block between them and getting someone out of a Tacoma. Tacomas don’t depreciate. If you just had a low maintenance truck for a decade that was also worth twice what anyone might hope for at trade in time, are you going to throw that residual value away by buying a Ford next time?

      • 0 avatar

        Tacomas are residual kings. I can’t fault anyone for buying one.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        Buying a truck you intend to beat on for it’s solid residual value is akin to keeping your girlfriend in great shape for the next guy to enjoy.

        Prudent investment over the same time period would net you larger gains than sinking your money into Taco’s. Neither truck (minus the “pro” or “Raptor” models) are especially great off-road in stock trim, so you’re going to be dumping money into modifications if you want that Taco to do anything but an entry level trail anyway. Same as the Ranger.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        True. When I first started shopping for a Tacoma in the fall of 2012, I started out looking at used ones, mainly 2007 to 2009 models with 30,000 to 50,000 miles. They were going for $24-26k locally (DFW area) I ended up buying a brand new 2013, for a little over $26k.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yep, with my dads ’13 F-150 having well over 100k, it sure is unreliable and awful. Oh, wait, 0 mechanical issues, the only things that have been replaced since new are tires and brakes.

        Your rhetoric is as bad as Ecoboostflex, oh but you ran a shop so nobody knows anything except you. Every Ford is ready for scrap at 36,000.1 miles, every Toyota runs until 500k with only two oil changes, bla bla bla.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          I drove my last truck, a ’95 F-150 XLT SuperCab short bed 4×2, for 17 years and 214,000 miles. The only major problem I had was the pinion bearings in the differential going at 92k, which was an excuse to add a Detroit Truetrac LSD. I had the alternator and starter rebuilt by a local shop, and replaced a few things like the radiator, had the a/c compressor replaced, and the usual stuff like brakes and wheel bearings, pls a fuel gauge sender, power window motor/regulator, driver’s door latch assembly. But the shocks and exhaust system were original.

          I started having an occasional hard start/no-start problem in the last year I owned it, which made it less reliable (it had been rock solid up to then).

          By the time I was ready to buy, I wanted something smaller, the Ranger was discontinued, and we had already owned a few Toyotas (a Corolla, a couple of used Previas, and a used Sienna), so the Tacoma DoubleCab long bed was a logical choice – the one thing I definitely wanted was the longer 6′ bed, so that’s one thing would keep my from buying a new Ranger – the lack of availability of a 6′ bed with the crew cab.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          You are a sad, bitter little man Johnny.

          • 0 avatar
            pdog_phatpat

            LMAO. Funny coming from a guy who sits in his basement erect, waiting for the next chance to say the same thing over and over and over.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Seriously Todd? I don’t disagree with the Tacoma being a solid truck but the Ford F series trucks as well as the other domestics see serious work on many tough job sites and are pretty stout in the residual department in their own right. I’ve owned several. Current is at 60k and has never been to the shop. Prior 2 both were both well over 300k (one being a gen 1 Ranger, the other an F150. Come to think of it there was a tired F100 in there that was in that range as well. All were running when I got rid of them. Most were abused. I had an old school pre Tacoma Toyota pickup that got there (but was an absolute rustbucket at the end) and an 80 series Land Cruiser that had had every component of the driveline rebuilt by 260k. It was abused and neglected, but no more so than the F100 for sure (I was young, and it was airborne on at least 2 occasions). The only truck I’ve had any significant trouble with prematurely was an 03 S-10 I got new and had issues almost from day 1.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I recently stopped running an all-makes shop. F150s pre-Triton were probably no better or worse than some other trucks. They don’t have anything like the survival rates of their competitors, but that probably just comes down to inferior transmissions. When it comes to anything Triton or newer, they are absolutely contenders with 4.7 and 3.7 liter Jeeps and Dodge/Rams for being disposable. I’m so glad I don’t have to take those Triton phone calls anymore, the ones where I know what they drive before they tell me because of the symptoms. I always made a point of guessing Triton 5.4, in the hope that they’d realize they were driving a mistake and buy something better next time. Only once was I wrong. That time it was a Triton 6.8 that had blown out spark plugs, cracked exhaust manifolds, and broken exhaust studs. There really wasn’t any point in trying to help Ford drivers though. They tend to say things like, “This is my sixth F250 and I’ve suffered complete brake failure on every one!” Then they get their tetanus booster shots from cutting their ankles on their rusted our rocker panels on ten year old trucks in Virginia, where rust hasn’t been much of an issue since the ’80s, before going on their ways buying new Fords.

          Good engines are cheap used, because the vehicles they’re in get wrecked dozens of times for every one that blows. Want a good used Prius engine? That will be $150, maybe $250 with low miles. Need a Ford truck engine? Good luck. I’ve sent a 2005 one-owner F150 4×4 with a 5.4 to the junk yard that looked ready for the front row of a used car lot. It must have been garaged, since it didn’t even have driver’s sill rust.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I have some inside fleet knowledge as well. You sir are as full of crap as a Christmas turkey, especially on your mythical 250 dollar Prius motor. You can’t score a freaking Pontiac Quad 4 for that.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            You aren’t wrong on the 5.4 though, I’ll give you that.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Art, it depends on where you are at what prices at local junk yards are.

            I picked up a complete (long block) 454 Chevy engine with everything on it (starter, alternator, AC compressor, the works) and the front springs (for the added weight) and replaced a 350 with a cracked block.

            But ordering anything from east of the Mississippi is going to cost dearly, plus shipping.

            Various Vo-Techs in the West crank out remanufactured shortblocks and longblocks for dirt cheap, with a 90-day warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I got my engines from car-parts.com The zip code of the shop I ran was 22901. Search for Toyota Prius engines at that website and with that zip code and then you can apologize for calling me a liar. I’m sure a Pontiac Quad 4 would cost more, considering the Quad 4 was made by Oldsmobile and they have been out of production longer than any GM car serves as a daily driver. My point was that prices for used engines are inversely related to their quality, since most go into the same vehicles they came out of and supply and demand are real things where governments don’t intervene.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Look at Remington Auto Parts on car-parts.com. Most engines that I had to source were for Subarus and Fords, but they did once provide me with a Prius engine for a customer who couldn’t maintain a hammer. They currently have a bunch of TESTED and guaranteed 2007 Prius engines for $150 a piece. Maybe have a clue what you’re talking about next time you call someone a liar.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Nope, you are full of sheite. Perhaps the prices are cheaper in whatever $#!thole you crawled out of. Thanks!

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            The $#!tbird doesn’t fly far from the $#!ttree I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I can’t help but picture you with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears while you try to block out the reality where you have zero place criticizing anyone’s integrity.

            You won’t catch me defending Charlottesville, Virginia. Nor will you find me living there anymore. Condemning it because you’ve been caught asserting knowledge you don’t have is pretty pathetic though.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Art Vandelay, you have destroyed the positive image I had of you as an intelligent and knowledgeable car aficionado.

            There exists a huge network between junkyards nationwide where many diy people go to find rare parts, i.e. a driverside door for a ’68 Ford Fairlane, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            @ Art

            You been drinking bud?

            I agree with HDC, I used to hold you in somewhat higher regard. Why would Todd lie about motor prices, and even after giving you specifics you still attack him like that? Geez.

      • 0 avatar
        road_pizza

        Unless you live in the Rust Belt where Taco frames disappear rapidly. One just doesn’t see many Tacos anywhere road salt is used, they’re not common here on the roads of n.e. Ohio. And justifiably so.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I live in a relatively salt-heavy environment of having salt on the roads during the winter AND salt in the air the rest of the time (less than 10 miles from “brackish” water and less than 50 miles from true salt water.) I also see quite a few Tacomas, including one of my neighbors. Interestingly, it’s the Fords that tend to carry most of the rust around, though GM’s aluminum panels have shown complete paint peeling and white oxidation that acts exactly like rust in certain areas.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Here’s your Fusion/Taurus replacement people.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    My girlfriend has been dying for a Tacoma for about 5 years now. She’s finally able to plunk down the cash on one.

    Test drove the Tacoma and it’s just not that much of a truck from the interior (not doubting it’s mechanical capabilities). Let alone the infuriating seats with horrific leg angle (i’m 6’1″, 250lbs, two reconstructed knees, and couldn’t find a single comfortable position where I wasn’t sure my legs would go numb from the quad down within an hour). She test drove the Ranger during the pre-release event in Seattle and pre-ordered the Ranger the next day.

    As mentioned, light duty, occasional towing, bringing the toys to their place to play, and around the house work.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I hope she enjoys it, and I hope it lasts. I’ve been driving my ’13 Tacoma for six years, and the driving position took a little getting used to, but it’s never been a problem, even on a couple of six-hour trips. But then, I’m still on my original knees.

      • 0 avatar
        road_pizza

        I’m a long legged 6’3″ and have good knees and there’s no way in hell I could ever “get used” to the gawdawful seats/seating position an a Taco. I despise sitting on the damn floor of ANYTHING, let alone a truck!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          As long as you can get enough seat tilt to properly support the thighs, it really doesn’t matter how close to the floor you sit. Electric seat controls make them easier to tolerate.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …The interior plastics are significantly better than what’s offered on Nissan’s Frontier…

    So is the inside of a Coleman cooler.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      “interior plastics” so you’re THAT GUY

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ummmm…I’m quoting the article so I don’t know where you’re going with that.

        • 0 avatar
          JD-Shifty

          I just don’t know anyone in real life who cares about interior plastics. they just want it to run and not cost them money

          • 0 avatar
            dividebytube

            and not squeak or rattle

          • 0 avatar
            salmonmigration

            I honestly have never touched the dashboard or instrument cowl of any vehicle I’ve driven, except for cleaning purposes.

            I wouldn’t care if it was made of jellyfish tentacles, as long as it’s black and it doesn’t rattle.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “I honestly have never touched the dashboard or instrument cowl of any vehicle I’ve driven, except for cleaning purposes.”

            Ditto. I understand and accept that lovely enameled metal will never come back for large interior sources so I don’t care whatever they they use for a shell to cover dashboard innards.

            However I never fondled the metal, either; I just loved its look.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “…for large interior *surfaces*..”

            My comment got effed with by the multiverse.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            I care, so now you know one person. Cheap crappy plastic is cheap crappy plastic. for a farm truck it is fine, for everything else it is a no go.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I don’t mind hard plastic in a truck so long as it is durable. This is not the case with the Frontier unfortunately. Look at it funny and it would scratch. Additionally the steel in the bed was so thin that crawling on my hands and knees in the bed would dent it. And you had better get a post 2012 model or a good warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve driven a 2009 Journey (V6 FWD) owned by my district.

        Yes the plastic was hard as a rock but damned if I could make a mark on it, and I tried. (At the time I was toying with the idea of one as a cheap disposable family hauler.)

        My 2010 Highlander on the other hand has hard plastic but it is far too easy to damage.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    So did I miss something, or did you forget to mention actual information about its possible use as a truck? Bed height from ground? Height over box rails? Box sizes, tie points, yada, yada. Please and thank you. To me it looks big, and tall. I cant imagine shovelling gravel out of it, nor are any of the modern F350s useful that way anymore, and haven’t been for some years now.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      It seems lately that quite a few people are complaining about how big the full-sized trucks have become, simply because they are so tall and so long.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Exactly. My wife was looking at a truck to replace our SUV and she said no way could she get the groceries or suit cases out of the bed.

        (The truck would not be a DD though but still)

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    *Thirty-Six Thousand Dollars* for a 2WD pickup…

    THAT’S A BIT STEEP…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      If you think $11K is harsh for what little options it has, imagine it after 4wd and crew cab. If there was a Raptor edition, it would have to start at $60K at least.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @phila_DLJ: Not at all. Pretty much all the mid-sizers are running at that figure with an equivalent options package. The 4WD system typically adds another $7K.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        4wd adds $4,000 to the Ranger, but 4wd is only $3,500 on the F-150. At some point Ford realized many don’t care how much more the midsize pickup costs over the similarly equipped fullsize pickup, since the won’t buy a fullsize anyway, no matter what.

        With the old Ranger, Ford kept its pricing (of options) in check, a tad below the F-150’s. Now a fully optioned Ranger will exceed the price of the equally loaded F-150, yes before F-150 rebates.

        No need to keep taking it in the shorts.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      It’s steep because that’s what I paid for my 2015 XLT Crew Cab F150.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Whats the point ? Its not much cheaper than an F150 but has a rotten ride, a claustrophobic interior and not much towing ability (leaf springs as I understand it won’t be available). Leave it in the third world.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Plenty of consumers aren’t in the market for a “fullsize” pickup, never will be, end of story. They may feel intimidated by their outer dimensions, the skill it takes to park, back up, swing around or whatever.

        I’m sure many assume the midsize pickup will save them plenty at the pump and showroom. They’d be wrong, but how many don’t care, or just feel “it is what it is”?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          It appears you’re finally beginning to understand the appeal of a smaller truck; it’s the size, not the economy, that is making the mid-sizers more appealing. Moreover, an even smaller truck would, as I’ve been saying for years, draw an all new clientele into pickups… a clientele that hasn’t been addressed in over 30 years. Call these pickups “compacts” or even “sub-compacts”, and people will buy… as long as they’re no larger in any dimension than a 1990 model mid-sizer.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            As I’ve always said, midsize and fullsize pickups have different sets of buyers mostly staying with one class or the other. Automakers have never really understood this, except Ford seems to be catching on finally.

            That’s part of the reason Ford brought the Ranger back. The major difference being typical midsize pickup buyers aren’t as consistently buying pickups, switching up between sedans, wagons, SUVs and others, before returning back to a midsize pickup.

            You’ve seen the rise and fall of compact and midsize pickup markets, hot then cooling off, trends and what not, while fullsize pickup sales have remained in a steady upward trajectory the whole time, or since there’s been pickups.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Nope, you’ve never said that in my reading. What you’ve said is that the only people who would want a smaller truck are “Cheapskates and Latinos”, unquote.

            Ford brought the Ranger back because they realized they were wrong; the so-called “mid-sized craze” was not dying and Ford did not get the massive influx of F-150 sales and/or Focus sales they expected. Instead, nearly half of their Ranger customers went to Toyota and maybe a quarter of them migrated to other Fords.

            But now, it seems, Ford has learned its lesson, though maybe too late. Their finances aren’t doing so well and a recent purchase they’ve made may not be the book they hoped for, even though many are very happy Ford made that purchase. That ‘many’ are the hundreds of thousands of rail fans around the country, as that purchase is one of the greater rail stations ever built that was on the verge of crumbling due to disuse.

            Oh, Ford will certainly see the Ranger name revive and I fully expect them to recover the majority of customers they lost to the Tacoma and maybe more, considering how far behind the Toyota is compared to its American competitors in technology and performance. On the other hand, the Ranger may not regain those who prefer a normally-aspirated V6 or at least an engine a little more physically robust than a 2.3liter four. Its non-turbo predecessor barely put out more than 100 horses and I doubt this one could do more than about 140 horses if that turbo dies. And forget it if it’s towing a 7000# trailer when that happens.

            The only real lesson I see is that Ford finally realizes that there is a demand for a much smaller truck–one that would actually class as compact or even sub-compact. They’re teasing it now but that new “Courier” is still four years down the road at the soonest–long after it should have returned.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I don’t see the lack of a power sliding window or tailgate damper as an issue with the Tacoma (or the Ranger).

    I’ve probably opened the sliding rear on my Tacoma twice in six years, and I’ve even thought about getting it replaced with a one-piece (the two vertical bars obstruct your view, and the rear glass is already small), except that I’d have to go with aftermarket glass, as Toyota doesn’t make one that uses privacy glass, like my slider.

    The tailgate is light, especially, compared with my previous truck, a ’95 F-150. I don’t miss a tailgate damper.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Keeping in mind my previous “mid-sized” was a ’97 Ranger, I opened the rear slider a lot when the temperatures weren’t too extreme. But then, that was a regular cab where I could reach it easily. On the other hand, I ran with tailgate up on that one, so I always manage a very comfortable breeze through the cabin, even at speed, rather than having the wind blow in past my ear with the open windows. Aerodynamically, the sliding window took advantage of the open bed creating a wind-powered fastback airflow… something you don’t get with the tailgate down or a tonneau cover.

      I could wish for a powered rear window, as the author said, it’s impossible to reach from the driver’s seat without it.

    • 0 avatar
      CC

      In Australia there’s cheap aftermarket gas springs for the Ranger tailgate – I imagine they’ll hit you guys in the US pretty quickly.

  • avatar
    ThirdOwner

    No mention of whether the 2.3 turbo requires premium?

    Thumbs up to Ford for using steel bumpers.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Size wise – bigger or smaller then the GM twins? Observed mileage?

    While I like the idea of a diesel this turbo application should generate the needed torque, down low too. I find it amazing that this engine has 40 more HP and 15 more TQ then my current 4.7l V8. In another 3 or 4 years my Dakota will be nearly 20 years old so I’ll be forced to replace it. Currently the ONLY thing I don’t like about my V8 Dak is the mileage. I love the size and the Quad Cab configuration is perfect. Adults fit in the back, they aren’t happy about it but for a trip to boat ramp its acceptable.

    The most important thing is that it fits in my garage, if its any bigger then my Dakota then it ain’t going to work. Inches matter here, if my Dak had a brush guard on it wouldn’t fit. As is the trailer hitch just clears when the garage door comes down. Something tells me the Super Crew Ranger is too big. The 5′ bed is fine, as I don’t need that extra foot. Also 2WD is fine as I’ve yet to encounter a boat ramp so bad I needed 4WD. Digging the Saber paint color too. Shame the trailer package doesn’t include any extra cooling bits (trans cooler, oil cooler, etc). I’d add the adaptive cruise control for a price around $32K according to Ford’s you-built-it site.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    No manual? ::harumph::

    ok, not surprised but it would be nice in the ol’ Ranger way.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Premium or regular?

    That’s as pretty big oversight.

    But it is kind of moot. I’m sure truck was already gassed by Ford.

    The thing is, where I live at least, premium is MUCH pricier than 87. At BP or Mobil, it’s about $0.70 more per gallon.

    At $2.30 a gallon, that’s a 30% increase. Will premium fuel make the car go 30% further? NO, it will not.

    It will allow the manufacturer to post better EPA ratings.

    This is deception at it’s finest, clever sleight of hand.

    At the very least, the window sticker should state “22 MPG. This was obtained using 93-Octane Fuel”.

    OR, it should say “21 MPG. This was obtained using 87-Octane Fuel”

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Here in Virginia Beach, 93 octane is $0.90 more expensive than 87 octane! I never cared about my predominantly 93 octane fleet when it was forty to sixty cents a gallon more, but it is closing in on a 50% surcharge these days.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The premium they charge for the higher grades these days is ridiculous. I remember when there was usually ten cents difference between the various grades, 15 cents tops.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I’m sure the price difference is exaggerated, but apparently that cheap oil we’re producing by fracking doesn’t produce much of the products used to raise the octane rating.

    • 0 avatar

      Unsure of what gasoline Ford put in it. However, the ratings are for 87 (which while I neglected to answer it wasn’t forefront on my mind since it runs on 87). Running 91 or higher puts the horsepower closer to 300, or so I’ve heard.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well done, Ford. This would probably get my dollars if I went shopping for a midsize truck.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “if you’re going to have just one engine to choose from, this is the one to have.” – That is until it blows.

    I feel that this thing has no innovation. Take Honda – not real truck but thing is interesting. + ergonomics disaster. I am not sold on the cabin.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Good looking truck that would look even better with a third pedal.

    Well at least we know one segment that won’t be leaving their Tacos and Frontiers for a blue oval.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    How was the Auto Start-Stop?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I have a feeling that at WOT the Colorado 3.6 (non ZR2) will still be faster but I’m likely one of the few people that would care.

  • avatar
    Delta88

    Those chromed wheels are silly-tacky-hideous. The rest of the truck looks great.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As I said in a previous article about the new Ranger, about ⅓ to ½ of the Tacoma’s current customer base is former Ranger drivers not willing to go GM. The other half or so of former Ranger drivers either went full-sized or into a CUV/SUV. I’d say the Ranger will easily re-take the top spot within two years and potentially drop the Tacoma down to third, below the Colorado (unlikely, but possible.)

    The review sounds good and I’d love to give it a test drive but my past experiences with Ford and my mis-trust of tiny engines with turbochargers means that Ford pretty much put themselves out of the running when they announced that engine; I was willing to wait and at least consider it before that announcement. If I’m going to pull a 6000# plus travel trailer, I want something with just a little bit more bottom end in the hardware because I’ve seen what happens when a turbo blows under load. That’s just one less thing to go wrong when you have a few more cubes cranking that driveshaft.

    • 0 avatar
      thejohnnycanuck

      “I’d say the Ranger will easily re-take the top spot within two years…”

      That’s a pretty bold prediction however I’d say that’s about as unlikely to happen as the Tundra overtaking the F-150.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      As I said in the past I don’t think Ford is going to take the #1 spot with this current offering. They may take #1 in retail sales and in 4×4 versions but not overall. Fact is many of the buyers who made the Ranger #1 for so many years were fleet buyers. Now if they offer a more fleet friendly version, ie no turbo, then they might take #1. You admit the turbo caused you to rule it out and I’m sure many fleets will feel the same way.

      Then there is the new Jeep that will make for an interesting shake up of the segment and market shares of everyone. One thing is for certain Toyota with near half of the sales has the most to loose.

      Time will tell.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Welp, I just lucked into a Tacoma TRD-Offroad rental to drive to Chicago and back, I’ll report back later with impressions. Interesting that Toyota is putting these into rental fleets…hmm…

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      I’ve got one too. In orange! It’s a solid truck. The headroom still sucks, but I was able to fit, mostly. Has some strange quirks. For example, when Sat radio is on, hitting track +/- buttons on the steering wheel throws it into FM radio. The only way to move to the next channel is through touchscreen. Also, the hood has an odd concave shape that creates an insufferable glare even when the sun is somewhat high. That was kinda madness. The fuel door does not have a holster for the cap. I had to leave it dangle by its tether cautiously, as to not to scrape the dirt off the outside and take it right into the tank. The truck tries to show the current speed limit, but it does not read signs like a BMW would. I presume it takes the speeds from a database, cross-referenced by GPS. A question of timely updates arises immediately… One final thing: the 3.5L cannot move the truck in the top gear at 75 mph, it has to downshift on the level ground. But it did not seem to matter for the mileage, which was still respectable 24 mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Another reason why I like manual better. My Highlander with 6AT in cruise constantly trying to downshift on the slightest up-hills because computer “feels” speed drop, drops down a gear and accelerates. Manual car, just goes and slowly recovers programmed speed – smooth ride

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yep, I’ve already noticed the lack of grunt in the 3.5L on the highway. In easy around town driving it does great, upshifts and then idles along just above 1000rpm which while less than ideal, is par for the course with modern cars (aside from the Frontier). But give it a bit of gas and the lack of low end “oomph” is all too evident. So it’s competent, but not very fun. I had a rental Frontier in Las Vegas this summer with the 4.0L+5A, with Nissan’s aggressive throttle tuning and abundant torque, that thing felt like a muscle car. The TRD Taco rides great though, I’ll give them that. Overall feels like a better put-together vehicle than a Frontier by a mile, But it’s kind of a toss up with the Colorado on that front. The Diesel Z71 Colorado I test drove had absolutely abysmal sheetmetal fit and finish on the bed near the tailgate, you could see daylight, uneven seams, haphazard seeming spotwelds. Haven’t seen anything like that on the Tacoma. That Diesel Colorado engine though is hard to beat for driveability, it accelerates up grades without a downshift while getting an indicated 30mpg that this Tacoma could only dream about. But the rate of lemon buy backs on that diesel (judging by the used cars on cars.com) is far from encouraging.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @gtem…

          That Diesel Colorado engine though is hard to beat for driveability, it accelerates up grades without a downshift while getting an indicated 30mpg…

          You remind me of what Jack Baruth said when the old W-Impala got the 3.6 V6 and 6-speed right at the tail end of production.

          “GM sells you the engine and throws in the rest of the car for free.”

    • 0 avatar
      94metro

      Gtem you ever get anything published? I remember some talk of it earlier. Some of your longer comments are about 1/3 of the way to an article, might as well flesh them out and make it official. I’d read a review of that taco, or the Daihatsu Terios.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        94Metro I had written a few thing in the Stevenson days but they never got published. I’m planning on taking that and posting some “COAL”s over at CC, frankly a much better community of writers and commenters over there these days.

        A few final thoughts on the Taco: a fantastic truck in search of more motor. I saw an indicated overall 19 mpg driving back at 74mph most of the way home. Had Toyota put the 4Runner’s higher spec 4.0L combined with the 6spd auto, I think it would be much more satisfying to drive, and get the same MPG. My favorite part of it were the Bilstein shocks. We’ve got a few nasty bits of road, one particularly good test is this one expansion joint that is literally the size of a small speed bump on a 45mph road. It’s rather unpleasant in any sort of sedan. The Tacoma flew over it and you truly could barely feel that anything happened. For our crappy roads, a Tacoma on this suspension is truly the most luxurious and safe feeling vehicle to drive. My own old 4Runner feels durable over such bad pavement, as in you’re not worried about damaging something, but it rides like an ox-cart compared to this new Tacoma.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    This is mildly interesting, but I can’t wait for their Focus-based truck.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So a decent truck that does nothing differently from the other trucks in the segment.

    It’s a shame Ford chose to do nothing to make this truck stand out.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Can you get a column shift/bench in the regular cab?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Still looks like a 3rd world rejected design, worse even than the hideous Colorado.

  • avatar
    brn

    Thank you for not grabbing the fully optioned model. Maybe the other journalists got there first and you missed out, but I appreciate it anyway.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    I’m sorry to see the full-length center console and the console-mounted shift lever. When I suddenly needed to replace my 2005 Dakota about 2 years ago, those features in the GM midsize twins & the Tacoma were part of why my Dakota’s replacement was a Ram 1500 with a 40/20/40 front bench and the dial shifter.

    (Why didn’t I consider the Frontier = I already rejected it the last time I was pickup shopping in 2004-2005)

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I have been shopping for a 19 Tacoma. I love the cement gray color. Then, the Ford Ranger shows up, and I was going to give it a look. But, this article seems to indicate the only engine in the Ranger is a turbo 4. To me, a turbo is a deal killer. Back to Toyota Tacoma shopping. I hope to do the deal in several weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      jimmyy, visit vescovotoyota.com in Las Cruces, NM and see what they’ve got.

      They are arguably the best Toyota dealer in my area and their sales volume and selection make for decent everyday prices.

      People come great distances to buy from them. My son who works in Brownsville, TX, came ‘home’ to buy his new 2016 Taco from them.

      Very satisfied.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      Enjoy the sitting-on-the-floor driving position in your Taco.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’m biased as I have the same seating position in my ’96 4Runner, but I did not see it as an issue. Just like driving an older 90s Honda, but you’re way up in the air. The Tacoma is easier to climb into than my 4Runner as well.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Thirty years ago, I made the mistake of not buying a two door, five speed 4Runner because I didn’t like the seat’s proximity to the floor. As far as I’m concerned, this has no longer been an issue since the 2005 Tacoma arrived. I doubt I’m any more flexible or skinnier than I was as a teenager, but the seat heights of the many 2nd generation Tacomas I’ve driven haven’t troubled my 6’2″ frame at all. Nor did the seats in the 4Runner we had as a rental for two months last year.

          Ironically, the lower seat cushions in this new Ranger appear very close to the floor in the photos. When is the last time you saw a car or truck with a center console taller than the seat cushions? I’m not talking about the armrest; you can see the entire length of the console in profile.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    Considering this thing is *just a TUNE* away from 400+ ftlbs TQ and around 325hp this will be a fun ride.

    Go for tune-only E20/e30 tune and it will be even better..

  • avatar
    nrd515

    If I was in the market for a truck this size, I would pass on this for the 4cyl turbo alone. A V6 would be fine, but no turbos. Ford especially seems to not want to cover turbo issues that have occurred in a couple of friends’ EcoBoost F150’s, so why would they start standing behind the 4 cyl?

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