By on December 11, 2018

Matthew Guy’s going to be mighty disappointed if this is all the big Ford truck news we receive this week. On the same week Ford rolled out its first drive event for the upcoming Ranger pickup, the Blue Oval revealed official fuel economy numbers for the four-cylinder-only midsizer — though specs already leaked last month.

Yes, it’s true. As you might have anticipated, the 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-banger and 10-speed automatic combo beneath the Ranger’s hood returns class-leading combined fuel economy. For a gasoline engine, that is.

The boasting is endless for this truck, which should begin appearing on dealer lots within a month’s time. First, it was power: 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. That torque figure beats ’em all in the midsize field. Then, max payload and towing: 1,860 pounds and 7,500 pounds, respectively. Again, class-leading, but there’s an asterisk hovering over all of these figures, just as there is for the Ranger’s fuel economy — it only applies to gas-powered pickups.

Ford cites an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined for 4×2 versions of the 2019 Ranger. Add four-wheel drive and the figure drops to 20/24/22.

Oh, how Ford wishes General Motors didn’t sell the Chevrolet Colorado with an optional 2.8-liter Duramax diesel. That model outpulls, outcarries, and outtows the Ranger, and matches its rival’s combined fuel economy. It also tops the Ford by 4 mpg on the highway.

Still, Ford’s accomplishment is notable, as it beats any other gas-powered competitor by at least 1 mpg in combined driving. Looking at 2WD models (in combined driving), the Colorado with 2.5-liter four-cylinder gets 22 mpg, while the 3.6-liter model gets 20 mpg. Toyota’s Tacoma, in 2.7-liter guise, tops out at 21 mpg, as does the 3.5-liter version, while the Nissan Frontier sees a rating of 21 mpg for manual 2.5-liter variants and 19 mpg for the big, 4.0-liter six.

The Ranger trounces its 87 octane rivals in city and highway fuel economy, as well. Same story for 4WD versions.

If green living is a big part of your lifestyle, you’ll need to first decide whether your wallet holds enough of the green stuff before pulling the trigger on a purchase. Given that some of its rivals boast lower MSRPs, it could be a while before you realize those savings at the pump.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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83 Comments on “Thriftpower: Ford Touts 2019 Ranger’s Stingy Fuel Economy...”


  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Meh. The market still seems to have a lot of space for an actual small truck. These mid-sizers are still seemingly bigger than “full-sized” pickups from 20 years ago. Perhaps there’s a reason used Tacomas still bring huge money?

    While the fuel economy may be class-leading, it doesn’t seem compelling enough of a reason to buy one of these over a full-sized truck if one is leaning in the direction of a truck in the first place. The fuel economy improvement in real-world driving is probably negligible and these don’t promise to enhance one’s manhood enough to make up the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      This again? No, they are NOT the same as 20 year old fullsize trucks. Ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        The Chevy Colorado has a wheelbase of between 128-140 inches depending on configuration. A 2002 regular cab F150 had a wheelbase of 120 inches.

        The Colorado has a length of 212-225″. The F150 had a length of 206.9′ to 244″. Seems like a good amount of overlap there to me.

        The Colorado weighs between 3936 – 4758 lbs. The 2002 F150 weighed 3935 – 4994 lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      The only reason why we have these mid-sized trucks is that they are based on existing international truck platforms that were easier to move over to North America.

      GM nor Ford or anybody else is not going to completely create a small-truck BOF design that no one in the World seems to be interested in, at least not enough to justify the price to do it from the ground up.

      If the World, that generally prefers smaller vehicles, doesn’t want a compact truck, what are the chances that the US will?

      There is No small truck made that exist in the mainstream market. This is not including Kei trucks in Japan or utility city trucks in developing/3rd World countries. Also not including car based UTEs.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I know many, MANY people who want to see a return of the true Compact pickup. They don’t need or want four full doors; they don’t need or want huge size; they simply want an open-back runabout that can carry things you wouldn’t WANT to carry in an enclosed cabin.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      There are several compelling reasons to buy a midsize truck.
      Being able to park anywhere normally is one,
      being able to get the truck into an average garage is two,
      being able to park anywhere in a city is three,
      Being more maneuverable offroad is four,
      Being easier to drive is five,
      Getting slightly better mileage is six,

      I think I just convinced myself to look at a mid-size pickup. And no, they are nowhere near the size of full-size trucks from 20 years ago. Not everyone needs to carry around sheets of plywood a couple times a year either.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Good reasons listed!

        As a OG midsize owner (’02 Dakota) the SIZE is the main reason I bought it, plus the available V8 power for towing. I don’t need a full size truck and apparently others are slowly figuring out the same thing. Larger items go in the short bed with the tailgate down, no issues as I have straps. Truck fits in my garage.

        Now because its old and has a V8 it still gets full size mileage. With these new boosted and diesel mid sizers the MPG improvements are making it almost worth upgrading. My V8 has 230 HP & 295 TQ so this 4 banger with 270 & 310 would be awesome as the TQ is likely even lower and just as flat. The 10 speed (provided all the bits stay put) would be a massive improvement over my ancient 5 speed slush box.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    how much money do you lose fixing the 10 speed tranny and turbos over the years?
    no manual trans option?

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      This!

      The theme of modern pickups is “performance over reliability, cost and sustainability”. A base model with manual trans, a low HP diesel engine and a radio without a touchscreen would be great.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        GM sells such a truck. Ask them what the take rate is on it.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If you want “reliability, (low) cost, and sustainability” and you live in the US then a diesel is not the answer.

        If you’re a diesel phreak that wants a hairshirt trim then that’s cool, but don’t pretend that the 2.8DM is any less a complicatron versus the 2.3EB or gas V6s.

        • 0 avatar
          Jon

          Small, high mileage, complicatron diesel engines have been clattering away reliably all over the world for several centuries. Sure the baby Dmax is new, but it is based on a proven concept. Generally speaking, the risk of failure with the 2.8Dmax is less than the risk of failure with a turbo gas engine of similar output.

          Complicatron turbo’d gas engines are a relatively new mass produced system with well documented problems.

          In twenty years, if their reliability has increased greatly, maybe ill buy a turbo’d gas engine. Until then, Ill stick with the proven system and choose not to be the subject in this experiment.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, and selective catalytic reducution systems are not centuries old and are not used all over the world. Also, those system have statistically caused reliability woes for the buyers of modern diesels. There is nothing proven about them beyond their headaches.

            I see zero reason to expect the Americanized 2.8DM to outlast the 2.3EB.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            Every new technology experiences “growing pains” as it is developed. Head gaskets, timing chains and tensioners were among the front runner for the EB engines.

            GM and Ford has been mass producing modern emissions systems for diesel engines since the early 2000’s. This technology is still more developed than mass produced forced induction 4cyl engines.

            Since the 2.8Dmax and 2.3EB are of similar age, we might just have to wait 10 years and see which is more reliable and cheaper to operate.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            “This technology is still more developed than mass produced forced induction 4cyl engines”

            You could get a forced induction 2.3L 4 cylinder in a 79 Mustang and in all manner of Fox Body Fords up through the 1980’s. There were no big issues with them and were in fact known to be able to support way more HP than stock.

            The EcoBoost has been around for some time now without any real issues in spite of everyone knowingly predicting otherwise.

            And yes, modern Diesels are NOT 12V Cummins 6B motors. They do in fact have a lot more stuff attached to them to go wrong. Ford especially had a tough teething period with modern diesels. Turbo gas motors have been around much longer than most emissions controls on a modern diesel.

    • 0 avatar

      I watched a video on the Tacoma where an engineer said that the manual trans models only have a 5% sales rate. And while Ford has a 6spd from the Mustang that’ll fit behind the 2.3T it doesn’t have a 4wd transfer case and the gearing is for sporty performance, not towing.

      There’s rumor that Ford is having Getrag build them a 4wd manual trans for the upcoming full size Bronco. Should that be true and released, it’ll be easier for Ford to justify putting it into the Ranger as well. Since the initial demand for the new truck will have subsided.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That’s a good point (except Bronco will be midsize, not fullsize). It could spell more powertrain options for the Ranger in the future since they share a platform.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Is the Ford 10 speed and 2.3L EcoBoost known for being unreliable?

      But, yes, it needs a 3 speed auto and a 120 hp V-6 from 30 years ago, that would make it very competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        More moving parts = more potential for broken parts + more expensive to fix when it breaks. Its too early to tell if the trans and engine will be unreliable and I don’t want to be the subject of the test. I predict the trans will be reliable due to its extensive development. In the case of the 2.3L ecoboost, performance is gained at the cost of lifespan and reliability. I have no data to back this up, just a gut instinct and a few years of watching complex systems fail more often than simple systems.

        I dont care about competitive. I care about reliable. I don’t need 300HP and 350TQ and 25MPG. I need 160HP and 300TQ and 30MPG with a bed.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          It isn’t a new motor…It has been in the Mustang for some time now with no issues.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            A turbo four pushing 300 horses isn’t the problem, it’s loading it down that’s likely to be the problem. Kicking tail in a little Fox body Mustang is only about 3500# of load. Putting it into a near 5000# body and expecting it to haul an additional 7500# behind it? That’s a load! We’re not talking about revving to ridiculous rates here, we’re talking about pushing the mechanical limits of a very tiny engine that can only barely push 100 horses and 90-something pounds-feet of torque without that turbo. It’s not that it can’t do it, the question becomes one of how long can it do it before catastrophic failure?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I don’t know. Have any broken down yet? I now own one vehicle with a 9-speed and another with an 8-speed and neither of them is offering any kind of issue.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    I wish someone actually made a real clean-sheet midsize truck. Everything for sale in the US was designed decades ago.

    I bet you could shave hundreds if not a thousand pounds of the weight of these pickups with modern construction and/or materials.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I agree with the first part of your post, America needs an American designed midsize besides the Tacoma. However on your second point, weight sells, increases in prices for exotic material on a truck meant to be beat on does not.

    • 0 avatar
      rjanuary

      Both the GMT 31XX (GM Midsize) and Ford T6 platforms were introduced in the 2011 model year. Obviously there’s development lead time before introduction, but “decades” might be a stretch.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        So would calling them the same as fullsize trucks from 20 years ago despite the fact that they’re like 30 inches shorter, but people still insist on doing so.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The only difference between a modern mid-sized truck and a 70s-vintage full size is the width, unless you’re talking the old long-bed version with an 8- bed, at which point they’re almost exactly the same length. Today’s trucks are notably longer than their older predecessors as demonstrated by the fact that MOST can’t fit into the typical two-car garage by length and you have to fold in the mirrors for width.

          Compact trucks were smaller than most sedans of their day.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Of course we also have to keep in mind that “crew cabs” were not really a thing with vintage trucks, and even extended cabs were rarer.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Is the Ranger not 87 octane?

    It would be a complete wash in savings if the Ranger is anything other than 87 Octane. As I’ve come to realize driving something that requires 91/93 octane, no one that purchases something with this requirement will ever realize a savings over something with slightly less MPG requiring 93.

    While breaking in my SS sedans engine the extra cost of the fuel with the fuel economy achieved during that stage made it cost every bit as much to drive around town as my H2.

    When I filled up my work truck a couple days ago for $1.99 I noticed premium was $2.69, not an insigficant increase in price.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      “… over something with slightly less fuel economy allowing for 87 octane”

      FTFM

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      “Then, max payload and towing: 1,860 pounds and 7,500 pounds, respectively. Again, class-leading, but there’s an asterisk hovering over all of these figures, just as there is for the Ranger’s fuel economy — it only applies to gas-powered pickups.”

      “The Ranger trounces its 87 octane rivals in city and highway fuel economy, as well. Same story for 4WD versions.”

      The author didn’t say the Ranger ran on higher octane gas. He was comparing it to other gasoline powered mid size truck and not their diesel counterparts.

      “87 octane rivals” as opposed to diesel competition, not that the Ranger uses higher octane.

      There was no mention of the Ranger needing anything higher than 87.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        If this is anything like Ford’s other gas engines in trucks, the manual will say 87 is OK for normal driving, and 91 is recommended for hot weather or towing.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Towing is most certainly not class leading.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Most turbo-powered vehicles “recommend” 91 Octane or better. Some flat-out demand 93.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          No vehicle for sale in the US demands 93 octane from the factory. Large areas of the country don’t have 93 available (I don’t think anything above 91 is generally sold in California except at racetracks).

          Aftermarket tunes exist for many vehicles that require 93 octane for top performance, but no manufacturer would dare offer something that millions of people couldn’t fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            My error then; I meant 91. However, just so you know, 93 is regularly available from Sunoco stations… at least where I live.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Oh, and my 2019 Colorado V6 demands, “No Less than 87 Octane and no more than 10% alcohol.” It seems new engines are more sensitive to Octane levels than older ones, especially if that Octane booster is alcohol.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Base XL in Lightning Blue with the plain steelies is beeyootiful!

    Even the cheapo black plastic snout looks good on it.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    Why would anyone bother spending this much money and not getting 4wd?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Mileage that is fractionally better than a F-150 yet suffers greatly in terms of capability and size.

    Strong work.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Toyota and Nissan failing to lead or even keep up with fuel economy. This is not the 1980’s!

    I’d be curious of the performance of a Tacoma if it were powered by the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid powertrain. Maybe an AWD truck that could deliver 35 mpg combined and tow up to 5000 lbs…

  • avatar
    Fred

    Looks to be about the same as it ever was. I want a nice interior so with the small trucks that means an upgrade to the V6, now I’m paying just a couple thousand less than a full size and what do I get 2 or 3 mpg more than a SWB V8.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    “Mid-size” implies there is a smaller size pickup on the market.

    And that would be….

    I blame the Dakota. Ever since Dodge came out with their midsizer, everyone else bloated up their compacts to the same size. We now have full size (basically, extra large) and these midsizers.

    Hell, nearly a ton of payload and 7500 in towing is very nearly what my ’93 K3500 is rated at. Of course, it gets 11 mpg.

    I saw a mid-90’s S-10 on the road the other day. I can’t believe something like that wouldn’t sell well these days.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      There are several flavors of faux SUV, I truly could see several flavors of truck. Maybe we have that to look forward too?

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Maybe what Hyundai keeps teasing will be that kind of truck. If you can take a car and turn it into an SUV why not just hack the back off and give us a small truck? It would have to be AWD and no CV transmission but as shown here a boosted 4 could give the TQ and MPG to make such a vehicle desirable. You would have a decent daily driver plus a weekend toy tow-er (jetski / small sailboat / ATV / light track car) and still handle the typical Home Depot run for mulch.

        • 0 avatar
          Gedrven

          Interesting idea, and maybe in a (relatively) small vehicle it’ll sell, but the Honda Ridgeline was basically a mid-sized version of the same thing – a CUV* with an outside cargo area – and sales were tepid to my knowledge. Truck people generally turned their noses up at them.

          *Without addressing the merits of these labels, I take CUV to mean car-based and car-like (unibody, fully independent suspension, transverse engine, no low range, generally more frugal and comfortable), and SUV to mean truck-based and truck-like (BOF, solid axle(s), longitudinal engine, low range, generally more durable and capable). Of course there are countless examples of crossover – no pun intended – and overlap.

  • avatar

    Manley could make the FIAT franchise viable with the introduction of the Toro pickup here. It’s a no-brainer.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    Nissan Frontier will be cheaper to operate in the long run.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    How are people feeling about these trucks coming with Auto Start-Stop?

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Great question and I’m surprised you haven’t had more response.

      My feeling is that if it’s not defeatable I’m not buying.

      • 0 avatar
        d4rksabre

        You will be able to turn it off, but you’ll have to do it every time you start the truck. Non-latching is an EPA requirement I believe.

        Apparently there are some hackery workarounds like using the trailer wiring to trick the truck into thinking it’s always towing a load, since the auto start-stop turns off when the truck is towing.

        I get the feeling this is going to be the next big annoyance for me after touch screens. So much modern convenience *bangs head against desk*

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Flashback
    https://www.motortrend.com/news/1983-ford-ranger-feature-flashback/

    They don’t build em like they used to.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Eventually the Taco won’t be able to sell on reputation alone — Toyota is going to have to step up their game on engines, transmissions, economy and interior refinement.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Well, China! The WSJ had an article today about where China had announced to lower the tariffs on American (made) cars.

      I see this as an opportunity for Toyota to export more Tacos to China without having to step up their game on engines, trannies and interiors. Everyone now features rear disc brakes, for instance. But maybe not in China.

      As far as trade with China, I believe the US of A should match China’s tariffs item for item, dollar for dollar. Now THAT would be fair and equitable. But the Chinese exporters won’t like it a bit.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Comparing a diesel and gas truck doesn’t bring any clarity. The purchade prices ate not comparsble and the fuel price is not comparable either. It is like comparing a hamburger patty with a filet mignon.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    want to see something interesting, look up used prices on 1st generation Colorado with the 5.3 V8. Last made in 2011, they seem to go for about 20k with less than a hundred thousand miles.


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