I drove a $45,000 Ford Ranger pickup truck to find out if it can do battle with the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma — here's the verdict

Matthew DeBord/BIWelcome back, Ford Ranger!
  • The 2019 FordRanger is the Blue Oval’s return to the midsize-pickup-truck market in the US.
  • The FordRanger will do battle against the popular Chevy Colorado and the Toyota Tacoma.
  • Ford has done a great job bringing the Ranger back to the US – the Ranger is every bit a Ford pickup and should make owners very happy.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Ford Ranger is back.

After a hiatus, Ford has returned to the US midsize-pickup-truck market, ready to do battle with the Chevy Colorado and the stalwart Toyota Tacoma (not to mention the versatile Honda Ridgeline).

At Business Insider, we’ve been avidly anticipating the Ranger, which is actually a built-in-America version of a global pickup that Ford has been selling outside the US. The Blue Oval is already super-strong in full-size trucks – can you say “F-150”? – and back in the day, the Ranger was a popular starter pickup.

In 2019, the entire pickup-truck market is driving US sales, and the midsize offerings are much improved over the little pickups that used to cover this segment. They’re really more like shrunken-down full-sizers, and where Chevy (as well as GMC, with the Canyon) and Ford are concerned, the idea is to offer a solid hauler that’s simply more compact than a big boy.

The market is, in fact, quite large: folks who enjoy what pickups can do, such as hauling around mountain bikes and going on Home Depot runs, but don’t want an F-150 or a Silverado in the driveway.

We’ve sampled pretty much everything the market has to offer on this front, so the key question is, what does Ford bring to the party with the new Ranger?

Read on to find out:


Our 2019 Lariat SuperCrew four-wheel-drive Ranger was nicely equipped and stickered at almost $US45,000. The base-price pickup is a little more than $US24,000.

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The SuperCrew configuration sports a 5-foot bed, but the Ranger can be had with a two-door cab and a 6-foot bed.

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The Ranger is a handsome pickup, especially in “Lightning Blue.”

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The Blue Oval and the Ranger nameplate share space on the blacked-out grille.

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Sleek headlights and a bit of styling across the hood define the front end.

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The Lariat series packaging adds about $US2,000 to the price tag.

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Ford hasn’t stopped using its push-button entry codes!

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The Ranger boasts a solid four-wheel-drive system — FX4 — with a locking differential. The package adds another grand or so.

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Our tester came with stout off-road rubber.

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But the Ranger also enjoys Ford’s EcoBoost engine tech, which uses turbocharging to retain power with good fuel-economy. In this case, the truck gets 20 mpg city, 24 highway, and 22 combined.

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The Ranger nameplate is a bit larger on the tailgate.

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And the Blue Oval is also back there.

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This step bumper enables easy access to the bed.

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I actually used the Ranger to make a run to Costco for a few supplies …

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… and to haul some furniture. The 5-foot box isn’t gigantic, but for this sort of weekend duty, it’s perfect.

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The interior of our tester was a no-nonsense “ebony,” but the upholstery was leather. The front seats are heated.

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The rear bench seat is snug.

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But the rear seats could absorb a decent amount of cargo — the things you wouldn’t want to put in the bed.

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Overall, the Ranger’s interior space and appointments were on par with the well-equipped Chevy Colorado. The Ranger was also much nicer than the Toyota Tacoma.

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Sadly, there was no sunroof on my tester.

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A bit more Ranger branding.

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And even more Ranger branding!

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The leather-wrapped steering wheel felt premium, and you’ll notice that the cluster presents a speedometer — no traditional tachometer, and that’s fine. Old-school tachs aren’t very useful on pickups.

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A 10-speed transmission handles the shifting duties …

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… and the Ranger has a nice old-school parking brake.

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Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system runs on an 8-inch touchscreen.

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Sync 3 is one of the best in the industry. It provides superb navigation, easy Bluetooth connectivity, and AUX and USB device-connection options.

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I sampled both SiriusXM satellite radio and old-fashioned terrestrial radio during my testing.

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Sync 3 also offers a suite of apps and has both CarPlay and Android Auto available.

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The 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is a terrific extra. It sounds too good for a truck this small!

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These simple knobs and buttons are welcome!

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Let’s have a look under the hood!

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The 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is a turbocharged power plant that cranks out 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is 7,500 pounds — enough to tow just about anything owners of the Ranger would want to.

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So what’s the verdict?

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The Ranger is a winner. It’s going to compare favourably with the Chevy Colorado and provide a much nicer package than the Toyota Tacoma (although the Tacoma is noted for its toughness, so the new Ranger should require some time to distinguish itself on that front).

I actually used the truck extensively, driving it around the New Jersey suburbs, in New York City, and on a long run out to the east end of Long Island, New York. I also loaded up the bed with a variety of stuff.

The Ranger handled everything and was easy to drive on top of it. Sure, it bounced me around on uneven Manhattan streets, but everywhere else, the truck was smooth. The steering was carlike, and the engine pumped power smoothly through the 10-speed without a sense that the Ranger was eager to get to the overdrive gears to boost its mpg.

As equipped, my 2019 Ranger tester was a tad pricey, but it lacked nothing. The interior was lovely, the infotainment was first-rate, the design was snappy, and other reviewers who’ve had a chance to go off-road have been impressed. (I didn’t get to go all down-and-dirty with the FX4 setup, which is extensive and even offers offroad cruise control.)

The bottom line is that Ford needed to get back in the smaller pickup market in the US, and restoring the Ranger nameplate was an obvious move. The truck has arrived, and it’s exactly what you’d expect for Ford, the pickup king.

So now, in addition to a good old-fashioned full-size-pickup-truck war in the US, we have a skirmish in midsize trucks to keep everything lively.

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