Pre-Owned Profile: 1993-1997 Ford Ranger

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author photo by John Rettie March 2000

Ford Ranger is the best selling domestic compact pickup truck

If you want a good looking rugged compact pickup truck you cannot go too far wrong with a Ford Ranger. It has been the best selling compact pickup truck in the U.S. since 1987. Rightly so as it offers good value for the money and is available in an enormous variety of flavors.

The Ranger range is powered by three different engines. Fortunately for buyers of pre-owned Rangers the three different engines all sold well. About the only option that sold in relatively small numbers was the part-time 4WD. On the other hand all Rangers come standard with anti-lock brakes, whereas this is a difficult to find option on some other popular compact pickups.

If you need a low cost runabout for hauling two people and light cargo round town or if you want a small truck with a powerful 4.0-liter V-6 engine for towing, chances are that you'll be able to find a pre-owned Ranger that meets your needs.

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1994 Ford Ranger

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Ranger

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts

1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Evaluation - 1994 Ford Ranger XL

Likes: rugged looks, variety of options
Dislikes: cabin space
Competitors: (on same platform: Mazda B-Series), Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma, Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Pickup/Frontier

Miles: 58,200
Condition: B
Price when new: $11,500 (est.)
Posted Price: $7,255 (Feb. 2000)

Given that Ford sells a large number of Rangers each year in the US it was kind of ironic that I ended up testing a fairly basic XL model with a four-cylinder engine and no power steering. Nowadays just about all vehicles sold come with power steering and air conditioning as standard. But as recently as 1995 several basic vehicles lacked these features.

Compact pickup trucks have long been a popular purchase for those looking for an entry-level vehicle. This particular Ranger I test drove would be just right for that purpose. Okay the steering effort required on tight turns at slow speeds was considerable but once you're doing over 20 mph it s no sweat. Part of the problem was the wide tires on a set of nice chrome wheels, which helped the truck handle better but did increase the steering effort required. I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth and quiet the engine felt. The manual transmission worked fine although the long shift lever was not as slick as one would find in a sedan. Performance was adequate thanks to the manual transmission. If you want an automatic or want to haul a lot of cargo look for a Ranger with a V-6 engine.

Accommodations are tight in the Ranger with a standard cab. The bench seat has little room to move back far because of the rear of the cab is only inches behind the seat back. Tall drivers should look for a model with an extended cab as these provide substantially more room. Cargo carrying capacity is of course good. The bed on this truck was in good condition with only a few nicks and dings from carrying cargo. Like so many trucks it had a fiberglass camper shell, which is a wise choice for making sure any cargo carried in the back is kept from blowing away. It also offers an increased amount of security against casual theft.

The dashboard is functional and straight forward with just a large speedometer and four auxiliary gauges. I was surprised to find that this truck still had an 85 mph speedometer which was compulsory back in the early 1980s and I thought had long disappeared. The bench seat offered little comfort compared to bucket seats but at a pinch three people can sit in the cab. The ride and handling proved okay for a truck. Its important to remember that it is not a car so the ride is inevitably stiffer and the handling is not as good.

If you're looking for a pre-owned Ranger there is a wide variety of different options to choose from. The vehicle is offered with a choice of three different engines including a powerful 4.0-liter V-6, which provides sufficient low-end torque to make it a good towing vehicle. In my opinion one should definitely look for an extended cab model as they provide so much more comfort in the cab as well as offering secure storage space inside the cab.

If you want a vehicle with style Ford introduced the Splash model in 1994. It features fender flares that give the Ranger a much more stylish look. Of course this non-functional option added to the cost.

Unlike most cars which are priced in a fairly narrow price range the variety of models and options offered in trucks can be very confusing. Check the spread of prices for pre-owned trucks and you'll find the most expensive one costing twice the price of a basic model, even if they are both the same ages with the same mileage and in the same condition. It pays to shop around to find just what you need. Unlike a buyer of a new vehicle a purchaser of a pre-owned vehicle does not have the luxury of choosing just what he or she wants from a long list of options listed in a glossy brochure.

2. Summing It Up - Owners Views

No problems at all (owners of '92, '93, '95 Ranger trucks)
Great gas mileage for a V-6 (4.0-liter)
Good towing vehicle (V-6, 4.0-liter)
Good headroom even though I am 6 ft. 4 inches (SuperCab)
Good gas mileage (30 mpg, 4-cyl. engine)

Lacks much room for baby seat

3. History of Ranger

Back in the 1970s Ford chose to sell a Japanese-built Mazda truck, called the Ford Courier, rather than build its own vehicle. That all changed in 1982 when Ford introduced the Ranger. Five years later it became the best-selling compact pickup in the US a title it has held onto ever since.

The Ranger was redesigned in 1993 and one year later Mazda began selling a rebadged version as its own truck. How the tables have turned.

In 1998 an all-new Ranger was introduced with a heavily redesigned suspension and a much-revamped interior, providing more space in even the basic standard cab. Ford was also the first auto company to introduce a compact pickup truck in the U.S. with four opening doors in the extended cab version. The latest Ranger has achieved the highest overall government test ratings for a compact pickup with five stars for side impact and four stars for the front.

4. Review of Current Ranger

Most people buy a compact pickup for its low cost or its utility though there are many people looking for a vehicle with style. Ford addressed this need when it introduced the Splash model back in 1994. Although Ford dropped the Splash name in 1998 it did continue selling a similar model as the Sport package. I test drove a 1999 SuperCab XLT powered by a 4.0-liter V-6 engine with 4WD and the flareside option. With all the options it cost over $25,000 making it twice as expensive as a base model Ranger. The ride and on-highway comfort has improved considerably thanks to the new suspension.

Performance proved to be quite sporty with the 4.0-liter engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. My major complaint about the 4WD system is that it cannot be used on the highway, though this is true of the 4WD systems in all compact trucks and most SUVs. I found it difficult though to feel justified in spending all this money on what is still a basic small truck On the other hand if you need the cargo carrying capabilities of a truck but still want the creature comforts one expects in a near luxury car one can get it in this model.

5. Basic Facts: 1993 - 1997 Ranger

Vehicle Type: Compact Pickup

No. Passengers: up to five

Origin of assembly: Louisville, KY; Twin Cities, MN; Edison, NJ

Engine: (standard): 2.3-liter 98 hp I-4 ('93-'94); 2.3-liter 112 hp I-4 ('95-'97)
(optional): 3.3-liter 140-147 hp V-6; 4.0-liter 160 hp V-6

Transmission: 5-spd manual; 4-spd. automatic ('92-'93); 5-spd automatic ('97); rear-drive or 4WD

Length: 184 - 198 inches

Wheelbase: 108 - 125 inches

Width: 69 inches

Height: 64 inches

Curb weight: 3000 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo volume: n/a

Fuel tank capacity: 17 - 20 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 22/27 (2.3-liter, manual); 17/23 (4.0-liter, auto)

6. Changes in the Ford Ranger Line 1993 - 2000

1993 Model Year (first year of new model)
Heavily restyled Ranger introduced
Overall length increases although based on same chassis
Wider track, same engine and transmission choices

1994 Model Year
SuperCab sporty Splash model available

1995 Model Year
Interior redesigned with driver side airbag
Power output of base 2.4-liter engine increased from 98 to 112 hp

1996 Model Year
Optional passenger side airbag becomes available

1997 Model Year
Five-speed automatic available as option with 4.0-liter V-6 engine
Flareside cargo box available on all models

1998 Model Year (first year of new model)
All new Ranger introduced
Longer wheelbase, increased cab size, more powerful engines, revamped 4WD system

1999 Model Year
SuperCab model introduced with four doors

2000 Model Year
Off-road style 2WD model offered
Four-door SuperCab optional on all models

7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating (95 model year): Driver 4 Passenger 4 (5 is best)
ABS standard on all Ranger models
Driver side air bag standard from 1995; passenger side air bag optional from 1996, standard from 1998

8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually stripped models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1993 Model Year (first year of new model)
New: $9,241 to $16,995

1994 Model Year
New: $9,919 to $18,798

1995 Model Year
New: $10,709 to $20,056

1996 Model Year
New: $10,910 to $20,580

1997 Model Year
New: $11,380 to $20,735

1998 Model Year (first year of new model)
New: $11,895 to $20,105

1999 Model Year
New: $12,295 to $19,885

9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1993 Model Year (first year of new model)
Installment Rate
2.3-liter I-4: 44%
3.0-liter V-6: 29%
4.0-liter V-6: 27%

Auto 29%
Manual 71%

4WD: 19%

Air Conditioning: 73%
Power Steering: 96%
Cruise Control: 30%
Power Windows: 10%

1994 Model Year
Installment Rate
2.3-liter I-4: 51%
3.0-liter V-6: 20%
4.0-liter V-6: 29%

Auto 31%
Manual 69%

4WD: 18%

Air Conditioning: 75%
Power Steering: 96%
Cruise Control: 30%
Power Windows: 11%

1995 Model Year
Installment Rate
2.3-liter I-4: 58%
3.0-liter V-6: 23%
4.0-liter V-6: 19%

Auto 33%
Manual 67%

4WD: 15%

Air Conditioning: 79%
Power Steering: 96%
Cruise Control: 39%
Power Windows: 18%

1996 Model Year
Installment Rate
2.3-liter I-4: 60%
3.0-liter V-6: 24%
4.0-liter V-6: 16%

Auto 38%
Manual 62%

4WD: 12%

Air Conditioning: 80%
Power Steering: 96%
Cruise Control: 27%
Power Windows: 14%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 13%

1997 Model Year
Installment Rate
2.3-liter I-4: 62%
3.0-liter V-6: 15%
4.0-liter V-6: 23%

Auto 40%
Manual 60%

4WD: 13%

Body Style:
2-door Std. Cab shortbed: 55%
2-door Std. Cab longbed: 10%
2-door Ext. Cab shortbed: 35%

Air Conditioning: 79%
Cruise Control: 25%
Power Windows: 14%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 14%

1998 Model Year (first year of new model)
Installment Rate
2.5-liter I-4: 43%
3.0-liter V-6: 35%
4.0-liter V-6: 22%

Auto 53%
Manual 47%

4WD: 28%

Body Style:
2-door Std. Cab shortbed: 40%
2-door Std. Cab longbed: 8%
2-door Ext. Cab shortbed: 42%
4-door Ext. Cab shortbed: 10%

Air Conditioning: 86%
Cruise Control: 37%
Power Windows: 24%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 23%

1999 Model Year
Installment Rate
2.5-liter I-4: 26%
3.0-liter V-6: 53%
4.0-liter V-6: 21%

Auto 68%
Manual 32%

4WD: 30%

Body Style:
2-door Std. Cab shortbed: n/a
2-door Std. Cab longbed: n/a
2-door Ext. Cab shortbed: n/a
4-door Ext. Cab shortbed: n/a

Air Conditioning: 95%
Cruise Control: 43%
Power Windows: 31%
Remote/Keyless Entry: 31%

10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, often include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers/Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1993 Model Year (first year of new model)
Production run: Oct.1992 through Sept. 1993
Total number produced: NA
Total no. sold in U.S.: 311,406

1994 Model Year
Production run: Oct. 1993 through Nov. 1994
Total number produced: 589,517
Total no. sold in U.S.: 350,900

1995 Model Year
Production run: Dec. 1994 through Sept. 1995
Total number produced: 271,696
Total no. sold in U.S.: 315,201

1996 Model Year
Production run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996
Total number produced: 363,016
Total no. sold in U.S.: 290,133

1997 Model Year
Production run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997
Total number produced: 370,212
Total no. sold in U.S.: 292,987

1998 Model Year (first year of new model)
Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998
Total number produced: NA
Total no. sold in U.S.: 323,086

1999 Model Year
Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998
Total number produced: NA
Total no. sold in U.S.: 368,178

11. Awards and Commendations

"Pickup Truck of the Year" - Four Wheeler

Best Buy - Consumers Digest

Best Truck Value under $18,000 - Intellichoice (XL SuperCab 4WD)


"It's both ironic and appropriate that the 1994 Ranger is very Japanese in design, construction and appearance. Noise, vibration and harshness control is improved. The integrity and build quality of our test vehicles were outstanding, and the styling particularly the flareside Splash and particularly with young adults attracted more than the standard level of attention." - Autoweek annual buyers guide 1994

"We didn't anticipate more than a ripple of excitement from the Ford Splash, what with the same "twin I-beam" axle that we blamed for the Ford Explorer's clumsy handling from 1990 through 1994. Its V-6 engine and automatic, also shared with the Explorer, didn't send anyone into ecstasy either. Guess what? We warmed up to this hot-yellow hauler on Baja's desolate stretches of dust. Enough, in fact, to slip it a second-place ribbon. The timid need not apply for Ford's daring flareside mini-truck, in light of its narrowed haunches and fluorescent stick-ons. Inside, however, the meek will be coddled by almost as many creature comforts as are found in an Explorer." - Car and Driver, Aug. 1995

"The truck has been greatly strengthened Ford claims its 370 percent more resistant to twisting by boxing its frame rails, meaning that the three-sided steel beams of the frame were made into closed channels, which are more resistant to bending. Perhaps even more significant was scrapping the rangers antiquated swing-arm front suspension and replacing it with the unequal-length control-arm setup found on the Explorer wagon. " - Car and Driver 1998 buyers guide

13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 94V169000
Component: emergency parking brake: mechanical
Potential Number of Units Affected: 884,400
Year: 1992-1994
Manufactured From: July 1991 To: May 1994
Year of Recall: '94
Summary: The parking brake control self-adjust pawl does not line up properly with the self-adjust rachet causing the pawl to slip over one or more teeth in the rachet. When the above occurs, it can result in parking brake system ineffectiveness. The parking brake will not hold the vehicle, causing the vehicle to roll freely, if the transmission is not left in gear.

ID Number: 95V231001
Component: fuel: throttle linkages and control
Potential Number of Units Affected: 26,000
Year: 1993
Manufactured From: Aug. 1992 To: Dec. 1994
Year of Recall: '95
Summary: During extreme cold, northern climate winter conditions, ice can form in the throttle body of the engine causing the throttle plate to remain in the highway cruising position after the accelerator is released or the speed control is deactivated. The vehicle stopping distances can be increased possibly resulting in an accident.

ID Number: 96V024001
Component: brakes: power assist: primary: booster
Potential Number of Units Affected: 108,000
Year: 1992-1994
Manufactured From: Mar. 1991 To: Nov. 1993
Year of Recall: '96
Summary: The studs which attach the brake master cylinder to the power brake vacuum booster assembly can develop stress corrosion cracking after being operated for an extended period of time in the Southern California location. If a crack occurs, it could result in one or both studs fracturing. The master cylinder could then separate from the vacuum booster, when the brakes are applied, preventing the service brakes from activating increasing the risk of a vehicle accident.

ID Number: 98E010000
Component: brakes: rotor
Potential Number of Units Affected: 23,500
Year: 1993
Year of Recall: '98
Summary: Aftermarket brake rotors for use on certain Ford and Mazda trucks. Cracked castings caused cracks to appear on the outer diameter of the rotor hat or around the stud hole. CONSQ: braking can result.

ID Number: 96V161000
Component: equipment: certification label
Potential Number of Units Affected: 134,770
Year: 1996
Manufactured From: Dec. 1995 To: Mar. 1996
Year of Recall: '96
Summary: The Certification Labels on the involved vehicles has incorrect rear tire inflation pressure designations. This does not comply with FMVSS NO. 120, "Tire Selection and rims for Motor Vehicles other than Passenger Cars." Incorrect inflation pressures could cause premature wear of the rear tires.

ID Number: 99V062001
Component: fuel: throttle linkages and control
Potential Number of Units Affected: 895,000
Year: 1998-1999
Manufactured From: Jan. 1998 To: Mar. 1999
Year of Recall: '99
Summary: Certain 1998-1999 Rangers equipped with 2.5L, 3.0L FFV/EFI or 4.0L engines and cruise control. A cruise control cable can interfere with the speed control servo pulley and not allow the throttle to return to idle when disengaging the cruise control. If the cruise control is used and this condition is present, a stuck throttle could result, which could potentially result in a crash.

14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $135 (average)
Side marker lamp: $NA
Door (left front): $488 (average)
Fender (left front): $185 (average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of Feb. 2000 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision Repair Services

The Rettie Report and Pre-Owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Pre-Owned Profile: 1993-1997 Ford Ranger - Autotrader