The 2019 Ford Ranger bursts onto the scene this year in a market hungry for pickups, and we think that it’ll make a lot of sense for a lot of truck buyers. Besides providing best-in-class towing and payload, our subjective review indicates it should be more comfortable and fun to drive than its competitors while boasting a comfier, better-appointed cabin. Feature content and value are also quite strong, and we even like the way it looks despite being based on a design that largely originated in other markets three years ago.
You see, the body/cab/etc. has only been tweaked slightly from the midsize truck sold in Australia and elsewhere. However, to make the jump to North America, Ford put an all-new fully boxed frame under that body and paired it with a stout turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the F-150’s 10-speed automatic transmission that does a bang-up job of keeping that engine in its sweet spot — especially when towing. The result is a truck that looks and feels fresh no matter how you look at it.
We’re impressed, and although we wish you could pair the SuperCrew with a long-bed, our other complaints are mostly of the nitpick variety. If you’re thinking that an F-150 or another full-size truck might be a bit much, the Ranger is a must-drive.
What’s New for 2019?
The Ranger is new to the United States for 2019. Read more about what makes it new and noteworthy in our 2019 Ranger First Drive Review.
What We Like
Agile handling and comfortable ride; energetic engine; class-leading towing and payload; high-end cabin for the segment; standard accident avoidance tech
What We Don’t
Limited cab/bed combinations; a touchscreen isn’t standard; no driver seat height adjustment without power seats
Unique for the segment, the Ranger is offered only with one engine and transmission choice: a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, and paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while a proper 4-wheel-drive system with 4Hi and 4Lo settings is optional. An electronic locking differential can be added to either.
Fuel economy with RWD is estimated to be 21 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving. The Ranger 4WD drops to 20 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Maximum towing for the Ranger, regardless of drivetrain (4×2 vs 4×4) or cab type is 7,500 pounds. Payload ranges from 1,560 pounds to 1,860 pounds depending on cab and drivetrain.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Ford Ranger is available in only two body styles: SuperCab (extended) with a 72.8-in bed and SuperCrew with a 61-in bed. There are also three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat.
Standard equipment on the XL ($24,300 SuperCab; $26,520 SuperCrew) includes 16-in steel wheels, automatic headlights, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a backup camera, air conditioning, vinyl flooring, cloth upholstery, power windows and an AM/FM stereo. The 101A package adds keyless entry, power mirrors, cruise control, extra speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth, 911 Assist emergency communications (works through a Bluetooth-synced phone), 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability and a color infotainment display. Also optional is the Ford Co-Pilot360 package that includes lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection for the forward-collision warning system, automatic high beams and blind-spot warning with rear-cross traffic alert and trailer tow monitor.
The XLT ($27,940 SuperCab; $30,115 SuperCrew) includes the above optional equipment plus 17-in alloy wheels, foglamps, upgraded exterior trim, rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, interior carpet and a 110V AC outlet. The 301A package adds power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio and the Sync 3 electronics interface that includes an 8-in touchscreen, two extra USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice controls. The 302A package includes all of that plus heated 8-way power front seats, a manual-sliding rear window, remote ignition and a sport appearance package.
The Lariat ($32,210 SuperCab; $34,385 SuperCrew) includes the contents of those packages plus 18-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, further upgraded exterior trim, proximity entry and push-button start, floor mats and leather upholstery. Its 501A package adds automatic wipers, a 10-speaker B&O sound system and a Technology package (available separately on XLT and Lariart) that includes integrated navigation and adaptive cruise control.
Optional on every trim level is the FX4 Off-Road package that includes off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted steel bash plate and Trail Control — a sort of off-road cruise control adept at getting you out of especially tricky and sticky situations. On the XL, this can be paired with the STX Appearance package to create a more fittingly rugged look than what the rather bare-bones base XL provides. An electronic-locking differential, a tow package, a spray-in bedliner and Ford’s SecuriCode keyless-entry keypad can also be added to all trim levels.
The Ranger comes with an impressive amount of standard safety equipment. Besides its antilock brakes, stability control and airbags (front and side-curtain), every Ranger includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Optional on the XL and standard on all other are lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection for the forward-collision warning system, automatic high beams, and blind-spot warning with rear-cross traffic alert and trailer tow monitor.
A third party had not crash tested the 2019 Ranger at the time of this writing.
Behind the Wheel
If you’re expecting the Ranger to drive like a miniature version of the F-150, think again. The two are fundamentally different. If anything, the Ranger feels more related to a Ford Escape or the brand’s other cars and crossovers tuned to deliver a sporty, engaging driving experience. The steering in particular is quick for a pickup and imparts decent feedback. The Ranger feels small, responsive and even fun — and not just in comparison to the F-150. The Chevrolet Colorado should feel lumbering by comparison, while even the fairly sporty Toyota Tacoma feels a little less lively when driven back-to-back.
Impressively, ride comfort is quite good as well. The Ranger is still a body-on-frame pickup, so there are impacts and jiggling felt over big bumps, but it’s still well-damped and the highway ride is comparatively plush for the segment. Road noise is also notably lower than in the Tacoma. Really, only the unibody, crossover-like Honda Ridgeline should outdo the Ranger for civility.
The same can be said for the interior. Materials quality is plusher than what you’d find in its GM and Toyota competitors, while the design is more indicative of a crossover like Ford’s Edge. We do wish that Ford would make the Sync 3 touchscreen standard, though, as the more basic interface can frustrate and rivals come standard with touchscreens. Small item storage up front could also be better.
In terms of space, the SuperCab comes with a bench seat that, not surprisingly, is best left to emergency transport ("Fine Dave, you can come along to lunch, but you have to sit in the back of the Ranger"). Besides near-zero legroom, the backrest feels mounted at an 80-degree angle. The SuperCrew is not only the obvious choice for those with actual back seat needs, but we found it especially spacious and comfortable for the segment.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Honda Ridgeline — If you don’t need the Ranger’s stronger towing, hauling and off-road capabilities (and many truck owners do not), the crossover-like Ridgeline is the only pickup that surpasses the Ranger’s comfort, space and civilized driving experience.
2019 Toyota Tacoma — If you’re OK with a more rugged driving experience, the Tacoma is a characterful choice that’s well-regarded for its off-road prowess. You can read more in our comparison 2019 Ford Ranger vs Toyota Tacoma: Which is Better?
2019 Chevrolet Colorado — The Colorado aces the Ranger in two main areas: it’s available with a Crew Cab/long bed body combo, and its ZR2 off-road model offers hardcore capability the Ranger can’t touch. Otherwise, Ford largely has Chevy beat subjectively and on paper.
Used Ford F-150 — The Ranger is in no way just a cheaper or smaller version of the F-150 — the two are fundamentally different. Still, you’ll be able to pick up a used or certified pre-owned F-150 for the price of a new Ranger. Something to certainly consider.
The XL represents pretty good value for the segment, but we’d still start things off with the XLT and strongly consider the 302A package for two key elements: the height-adjustable driver’s seat and the Sync3 touchscreen interface that greatly improves interior functionality.