First Look: 2024 Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With Ford having debuted the global version of the midsize Ranger pickup in 2021, the only question was what kind of changes would be made for the American market.

Well, we aren’t getting the diesel powertrains available in other parts of the world. But that’s hardly a surprise. I suppose the big shocker is exactly how similar the U.S. Ranger happens to be to the versions you can already buy in countries where they have the steering wheel on the wrong side. However, that’s hardly an insult when you take into account what you’re getting.

Editor's note: We hit up the newsier angle on the Ranger this morning ahead of the embargo. However, Ford also invited us out to take a gander at the new Ranger and Ranger Raptor (more on that later) last week, and we wanted to give you a deeper dive here. Appetizer followed by entree.

What we found seemed to be a familiar concept with lots of little improvements that added up to something grander than what’s currently on offer. The Blue Oval tweaked the design to make it easier to hose out after heavy use and easier to live with if you happen to do a lot of driving in the city.

Normally, when you set out to build a jack of all trades, the end product tends to be kind of middling. But the 2024 Ford Ranger seems to be improved in most respects. In fact, the automaker made a big deal about how much market research was being done to cater to customers that wanted something that could fill a myriad of roles while still functioning as a pickup should. Its representatives also stressed just how much effort was put into ensuring the vehicle was reliable and durable — though only time will tell how successful the company actually was.

While still based on Ford’s T6 platform, the new Ranger utilizes the updated version (T6.2) that’s shared with the Bronco and Volkswagen’s Amarok. This means there’s a good bit of powertrain commonality.

The launch model will come with the aluminum-block, 2.3-liter EcoBoost pumping out 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. But Ford said it would likewise offer the 2.7-liter V6 offering 315 horsepower and 400 pound-feet. It’s clearly the slicker unit, utilizing a compacted graphite iron block with aluminum heads along with port and direct fuel injection (the 2.3-liter only used direct injection). Both engines will be paired with the company’s 10-speed SelectShift (10R60) automatic transmission.

Rear-wheel drive is standard with an open differential. But the 2024 Ford Ranger will be offered as a 4x4 and with an electronic locking differential. Regardless of the configuration, customers will get short- and long-arm independent and tubular stabilizer bar suspension at the front and a Hotchkiss-type non-independent live suspension at the back with leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers.

The redesign has resulted in a larger body-on-frame pickup overall. Now 2 inches wider and longer than the outgoing model, the Ranger boasts a bulkier look that’s more in line with both the F-Series and the pint-sized Maverick. If you like either of those, you’ll be pretty happy with the bodywork and C-shaped lights.

Pushing the wheels out also means that they’re less intrusive in the bed. Ford said you can now chuck a 4-foot-wide sheet of drywall (or whatever else you want) into the bed without issue. Additional tie-down points have been added as well and there are standard outlets in the back (connected to the 400-watt inverter) if you want to hook up appliances. There’s an integrated side-step to help you access things in the rear and even a ruler on the tailgate for when you want to use it as a makeshift workbench.

It’s little things like that that made the vehicle shine. Since we already knew the majority of what Ford had in store for us, those little details mattered. But they seemed to pay off most inside the cabin. Launched as a SuperCrew (in either XL, XLT, or Lariat trims), the back seats come with a pretty smart cubby for storing cargo that you might not want anyone else to find. Those seats also can be folded flat in case you need to stack some boxes inside.

A lot has been done to update the interior. Though how satisfied you are will have a lot to do with how much you’re into screens. The standard configuration comes with an 8-inch digital instrumentation screen, though 12 inches are available. Meanwhile, the standard touch screen is vertically oriented, plenty big, and slotted tastefully into the dashboard. While your author isn’t the most enthusiastic when it comes to digital gauges, Ford is offering a clean interface with a good amount of customization and physical controls where it counts. Everything is easy to read and not over-stylized to the point that it’s going to look brutally dated in a couple of years — even when the format shifts as you swap between drive modes.

The dashboard is impressively flat, opening up the cabin a bit. But you’ll still be happier in an F-Series if you’re of the portly persuasion. Storage is more than adequate. But some of the materials used on the test models I previewed felt a little cheap. Thankfully, the worst of it happened to be on the door cubbies that don’t need to be all that robust in the first place. The overall fit and finish were still acceptable, however, the important bits all felt quite solid. If that's how the Blue Oval wants to cut costs and keep the MSRP down, the terms are agreeable.

Ford SYNC 4A is standard on the 2024 Ranger and comes with improved voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility. If you want to add more, the company will happily hook you up via FordPass and the standard 4G modem.

Meanwhile, CoPilot-360 comes with Ford’s Lane Centering System, Auto High Beams, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert and trailer coverage, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Rearview Camera, Intersection Assist, Active Park Assist 2.0, Evasive Steering Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Reverse Braking Assist, Intersection Assist, Speed Sign Recognition, Post Collision Braking, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Forward Collision Warning, Reverse Brake Assist, Stop-and-Go, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Do you need all of that? Definitely not. Still, a lot of people like to have as many electronic nannies as possible and the updated Ranger can be had with quite a few. Wireless phone charging likewise seems totally pointless when the comes with USB A and USB C sports. But they’re all there if you’re interested.

Though the more interesting features pertain to towing, off-roading, and avoiding everyday headaches. Want to illuminate the area around the vehicle? Zone Lighting has you covered. Want to haul something but are a liability when it comes to towing? There’s Trailer Navigation and Trailer Reverse Guidance. You can even have the truck accommodate blind-spot detection based on how long your trailer is. However, whatever you’ve hooked up has to adhere to the maximum tow rating of 7,500 pounds.

Like hitting the rough stuff? Check out Ford’s Terrain Management System, Trail Control, and Off-road screen with a frontal camera system, or just swap over to the applicable (and standard) drive mode. There’s even a new-and-improved parallel parking helper and optional 360-degree camera system if you’re totally helpless behind the wheel of an automobile.

But what if you’re a maniac who sees a dirt-bike course and feels this longing desire to own a pickup truck that can handle it with as much flair as possible? Ford has you covered again.

While it was previously unavailable on our market, Ford has opted to bring the Ranger Raptor stateside — and with a bigger engine.

Equipped with a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 cracking out 405 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, the only downside is that you have to give it 91 octane gas. Another SuperCrew, the Raptor likewise comes with a 10-speed automatic gearbox with a two-speed transfer case and locking differentials.

The company seemed extremely pleased with the forged aluminum double A-arm front suspension with 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve shocks and beefed up Watts-link rear suspension with trailing arms and another set of Fox units. Ford said they were “competition-level” and came with adaptive dampening programmed to lovingly adjust themselves hundreds of times per second. Here’s a comparison (below) to offer a sense of how much more material is lurking behind the tires of the Raptor. Handy if you plan on taking the truck off a ramp.

Speaking of, the pickup comes with a set of 33-inch All-Terrain LT 285/70R17s that look ready to kick up some dust. Ford showcased a set of BFGoodrich KO2s wrapped on some 17-inch beadlock wheels.

Visually, it’s a fairly menacing vehicle. Wider and taller than the standard Ranger, the pickup comes with aggressive fender flares and ditches the Blue Oval for an elongated grill with the corporate name worked into the plastic.

The interior is largely similar, except the front seats are heavily bolstered and come with loud accenting colors to let occupants know this truck is too wild to be confined by the boundaries of good taste.

Jokes aside, it’s a very handsome truck in person and I kind of wanted one — even though I do not like trucks and think they are inferior to vans in nearly every respect save for yelling “Yee-Haw” out the window while traversing through the mud.

Pricing for our market is TBD. However, Ford has been pretty competitive with the Ranger thus far and we’re not expecting that to change. Provided it turns out to be reliable and satisfying from behind the wheel (we tragically did not get to drive them) there’s not much here to gripe about. It seems like a better-designed pickup than the outgoing model in nearly every respect and the Raptor is absolutely going to be a hot commodity. The dealer markups will be utterly insane.

[Images © 2023 Matt Posky/TTAC]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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5 of 31 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on May 10, 2023

    I'm surprised that the Ranger Raptor doesn't come with 35's. It might be corporate weenies establishing pecking order. F150 Raptor: 35's and 37's. Bronco Sasquatch 35's. Bronco Raptor 37's.

    Chevy Colorado ZR2 will come with 33's and Bison 35's.

    • See 2 previous
    • MrIcky MrIcky on May 12, 2023

      My understanding is the badlands suspension is almost the same, so it could probably be done pretty easily- just goes against the "jump truck" vibe they are going for.

  • BEPLA BEPLA on May 11, 2023

    Make mine a 2 door 2wd, 5 speed manual longbed w/ vinyl seats, rubber mats and steelies.