Ford Ranger Review And Road Test Overview
While the big trucks may get more sales and attention, midsize pickups should not be overlooked, as they provide more than enough capability for most people and fit better into parking spaces. The 2023 Ford Ranger fits this niche even as it shows its age. The Ranger is getting long in the tooth (this generation debuted in 2011), but thankfully this is the last model year before a new Ranger, based on an all-new global platform, debuts in 2024.
The Ford Ranger is a mid-size pickup that’s no longer the itty-bitty one in the lineup thanks to the new Maverick compact truck. Considered more of a diet F-150 than mini-truck, the Ranger comes with a 270-hp turbocharged inline-four and 10-speed automatic transmission. It provides good power but not the fuel economy we’d expect of a smallish turbo-four. It comes up big with a 7500-pound maximum towing capacity, however. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available, and even if the Ranger isn’t as new as some of its competitors such as the Chevrolet Colorado or Nissan Frontier, it’s still just as trucky. The Ranger can be ordered as either a two-door SuperCab with a six-foot bed or a four-door SuperCrew with a five-foot bed. For maximum off-road buffoonery, the Ranger can be optioned with a Tremor equipment package, but a more mud-dedicated Raptor model is likely to join the fully-redesigned Ranger’s lineup for 2024.
Ford doesn’t significantly change its mid-size Ranger pickup for 2023. New for 2023 is a new Splash Jungle Edition equipment package for the Lariat SuperCrew. This is largely an appearance package with an exclusive Eruption Green Metallic paint color and black mesh grille. Azure Gray Metallic Tri-coat is also added as an available paint option.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
If you’re going for value and performance, look to the base, XL extended-cab model, which Ford calls SuperCab. It has all the power and ride quality of the other Rangers, but thanks to its smaller cab, rear-drive configuration, and lower level of standard equipment it’s not as heavy as the XLT and Lariat trims, meaning it’ll get up to speed a little quicker. It comes standard with forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking–things that are only available on the Chevrolet Colorado’s and the GMC Canyon’s highest trims. Our first choice, however, is the SuperCrew crew-cab body style dressed in the mid-level XLT trim and equipped with four-wheel drive. We’d add the FX4 off-road suspension, a bed liner, and the 302A package that includes heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and an eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Pop the hood of the Ford Ranger, and you’ll be greeted by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. There’s enough muscle there to make the Ranger XLT we tested reasonably swift, and output is silky. Things get even more impressive with the lighter Ranger XL, which surprised us with its speed and agility when we put it through its paces at the track. With all Ranger trucks, a 10-speed automatic rules the roost, and it provides shifts that are smooth and quick. Rear-drive models offer 8.4 inches of ground clearance, while four-wheel-drive versions offer 8.9 inches. The Ranger is available with a Terrain Management System that tweaks things like engine responsiveness and transmission gearing to optimize the truck’s performance on various types of terrain. Four selectable drive modes are offered: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand.
Towing and Payload Capacity
When equipped with the optional tow package, the Ford Ranger can tow up to 7500 pounds, and when towing, the truck’s power delivery remains smooth and consistent. As for payload, the Ranger is good for up to 1860 pounds.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the rear-wheel drive Ranger will earn up to 21 mpg city and 26 highway. The four-wheel-drive version has estimates as high as 20 mpg city and 24 highway, but the Tremor model sees both ratings drop to 19 mpg. We subjected a rear-wheel drive model to our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route–which is part of our extensive testing regimen–achieved 25 mpg. Two crew-cab four-wheel-drive models that we sampled locally delivered 16 mpg and 15 mpg, respectively, after some fairly aggressive driving. For more information about the Ranger’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Rangers are available as either an extended cab (SuperCab) or a crew cab (SuperCrew) model. The roomier SuperCrew seats up to five and comes with four full-size doors, while the SuperCab provides seating for four occupants and has two smaller rear half-doors. As in some other Ford products, the Ranger cabin’s design and materials are inconsistent–mostly dull and littered with cheap plastics, but also fitted with small bits of trim that look and feel surprisingly upscale. Both the SuperCab and SuperCrew cabins are comfortable, however, and their controls are user-friendly.
The base XL model comes standard with a few infotainment and connectivity features including a four-speaker AM/FM audio system, a single USB port, and a Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to 10 devices. Upgrade to either the XLT or Lariat model, and you’ll get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and SiriusXM satellite radio. An integrated navigation system and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system are both available.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The Ranger comes standard with basic driver-assistance features but more advanced technology requires jumping to a higher trim or adding an option package. Luckily for those who want these systems, the option packages are relatively affordable. For more information about the Ranger’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Ford provides the Ranger with a competitive warranty. Unlike the Toyota Tacoma, the Colorado, and the Canyon, the Ranger isn’t available with complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Ford Ranger Tremor 4X4
front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
138 in3, 2261 cm3
270 hp @ 5500 rpm
310 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Wheelbase: 126.8 in
Length: 210.8 in
Width: 73.3 in
Height: 73.2 in
Passenger volume (C/D est): 95 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 4650 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 6.5 sec
100 mph: 17.6 sec
1/4 mile: 15.0 sec
2023 Ford Ranger: Fuel consumption figures
|Single XL C/C 4×4 2.0L bi-turbo
|Super XL C/C 4×4 2.0L bi-turbo
|Super XL P/U 4×4 2.0L bi-turbo
|Double XL C/C 4×4 2.0L single-turbo