By NITISH S. RELE – email@example.com
The Ranger is back in town! After an eight-year hiatus, the fourth-gen Ford Ranger returned last year and, we must say, it has been quite a feat. The rear-wheel-drive (4X2) version of the midsize pickup was equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-4 cylinder putting out 270 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. EcoBoost is essentially twin turbochargers and a smaller-displacement engine working in tandem with gasoline direct injection to produce a dominant but fuel-efficient engine.
Mated to the power train, providing seamless shifts, is a 10-speed automatic gear box. Guiding the truck is an electric power-assist steering while suspension is handled up front by a short-long-arm independent and a Hotchkiss-type non-independent live rear. The result is a remarkably supple ride that soaks obstacles with dexterity, sure-footedness and poise.
Conveying a bold and brawny appearance, and understandably so, is a black wide-mesh raked grille with LED headlights and fog lamps, body-color door handles and wheel lip moldings. Take a seat behind the robust leather-wrapped steering column and you find yourself staring at a speedometer flanked by two 2.3-inch LCD screens. Sync3, which accesses audio, telephone, navigation controls via a voice command, 8-inch touchscreen tap or button click, is simple to use. Other amenities at no cost are dual auto a/c, eight-way power and heated front seats, 60/40 easy-fold rear bench, overhead sun glass holder, push-button start, and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Our 5-foot-bed Super crew cab came with the optional FX2 package ($595), which fetched us an electronic locking rear differential, front underbody guard; and off-road tires, tuned suspension and cluster screen.
Standard safety features are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, pre-collision and lane-keep aid with auto emergency brake, rearview camera, front and rear three-point seatbelts, tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights.
It’s a warm homecoming for the Ranger in a crowded and highly competitive midsize pickup market. Though by no means a full-size truck, this Ford serves the purpose of one with commanding cargo and towing capability, and adequate fuel efficiency while delivering a utilitarian ride. Welcome back, Ranger!
FORD RANGER (LARIAT)
Wheelbase: 126.8 inches
Length: 210.8 inches
Width: 85.8 inches
Height: 71.1 inches
Tow capacity: 7,500 pounds
Weight: 4,232 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18 gallons
City: 21 mpg
Highway: 26 mpg
Base price: $34,675
Price as tested: $41,780
Web site: www.ford.com
Nitish S. Rele, editor/publisher of Motoring Tampa Bay (www.motoringtampabay.com) and Khaas Baat (www.khaasbaat.com), was an automotive editor/columnist for The Tampa Tribune.