The Ford Ranger makes its return to the U.S. market for 2019.
The Chevrolet Colorado is available with a diesel engine.
For the past few years, if you wanted a midsize truck from an American automaker, your only option was the Chevrolet Colorado. This is no longer the case here in 2019 though in part thanks to the re-introduction of the Ford Ranger, which returns to the U.S. market after being discontinued in 2012. Here we’ll compare the two midsize trucks to determine if the Colorado can keep up with the new 2019 Ford Ranger.
The Colorado came out in its current form here in the U.S. for the 2015 model year, but in reality, the U.S. Colorado is an Americanized version of a truck that’s been on sale in foreign markets since 2012. The Colorado stands out for its available diesel engine and for offering two high-performance off-road trims in the ZR2 and the new-for-2019 ZR2 Bison, co-developed with American Expedition Vehicles, better known as AEV. The U.S.-market Colorado is built near St. Louis, Missouri. The 2019 Colorado starts at around $24,000 and reaches around $55,000 in loaded ZR2 Bison form. See the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado models for sale near you
Perhaps even more surprising is that the Ranger — advertised as all-new for 2019 — is also an Americanized version of a foreign-market truck that’s been on sale since way back in the 2011 model year. That isn’t to say that it isn’t packed full of modern, convenient features though, many of which we’ll get into below. Notable features of the Ranger include its great powertrain and comprehensive array of active safety features. The Ranger is built in Wayne, Michigan. The Ranger starts at around $25,500 and reaches around $47,000 when fully loaded. See the 2019 Ford Ranger models for sale near you
The Colorado starts off in basic "WT" or work truck trim with the 4-cylinder engine, manual transmission and not much else. Stepping up to the LT gets you niceties like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum wheels, and an 8-in infotainment system, while the Z71 model adds off-road features like all-terrain tires, a tougher suspension, a skid plate and an automatic locking rear differential, along with a power passenger seat, automatic climate control, and heated front seats. At the top of the Colorado hierarchy is the ZR2 model, which comes with a clever spool-valve off-road suspension developed by Multimatic, locking front and rear differentials, rock sliders and a litany of other off-road tech making it a great option for anyone looking to take their Colorado off-road. Buyers looking to do heavy-duty off-roading can add the AEV Bison package onto their ZR2, which adds even more skid plates, tougher wheels, bed-corner protection, larger fender flares and more styling elements.
The Ranger comes in three trim levels: basic XL, middle-of-the-road XLT and top-of-the-line Lariat. Ford takes a different approach to off-road with the Ranger. Instead of offering an off-road trim level comparable to the Colorado Z71, Ford makes its $1,295 FX4 off-road package available as an optional extra on any trim level, which ultimately gives buyers more choice when it comes to configuring their ideal Ranger. The Ranger doesn’t yet offer a top-of-the-line off-road trim to compete with the Colorado ZR2, although a variant inspired by the beloved F-150 Raptor is expected to be added in the future.
Both the Colorado and the Ranger are offered in either extended- or crew-cab body styles. While the Colorado crew cab can be had with either a 5- or 6-foot bed, the Ranger crew cab is available only with the shorter 5-foot bed. Extended cab versions of both trucks come with a 6-foot bed.
Ford offers the Ranger with just one powertrain option — a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is the same one found in the F-150. Not only does this make for the better powertrain in this comparison, but it’s arguably the best powertrain offered in any midsize pickup on sale today. With 4-wheel drive, the Ranger returns 20 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving, although as is the case with most turbocharged engines, these figures will likely vary significantly depending on driving style.
The Colorado comes with two different gas engines along with a diesel option. The smaller of the two gas engines is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. This engine can be paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The larger gas engine is a 3.6 liter V6 that puts out 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, and comes exclusively with an 8-speed automatic. The Colorado’s diesel engine is a 2.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is great for towing or low speed off-roading, but seriously lacking when it comes to highway acceleration. The diesel also carries a considerable price premium of $3,000 over a similarly-equipped V6. The sole transmission option with the diesel is a 6-speed automatic. With the V6 and 4WD, the Colorado returns 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined, while the diesel nets 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined. Expect to earn an mpg back in all categories if you opt for basic 2-wheel drive.
In terms of towing, the Colorado diesel is the most capable out of these trucks, offering a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. The Ranger can pull up to 7,500 pounds, impressive given that its powertrain is also considerably easier to live with day-to-day. The basic Colorado V6 is rated to tow 7,000 pounds.
The Colorado and the Ranger have been out in foreign market for years now in their current body style and reliability has proven to be sound for the most part. Both vehicles come with a 3 year/36,000 mile basic and 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Colorado earns scores of Good across the board except for in the passenger side small front overlap test, where it earns a Marginal, which is the second lowest score possible. Test results for the Ranger have yet to be released. The Ranger offers a comprehensive array of active safety features, with pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking offered as standard, while automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and trailer tow monitoring, driver attention monitoring, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist can be had on all trims for a reasonable $735 as part of Ford’s Co-Pilot360 package. Radar cruise control is bundled with the $795 Technology package, which also gets you navigation. The Colorado can only be had with forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning, neither of which is standard, and only on select trim levels.
Technology and Infotainment
Ford offers its SYNC 3 system as standard on the top-of-the-line Ranger Lariat and as a $995 option on the middle XLT trim. Ford’s infotainment system is intuitively designed and easy to use, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also offered.
On the LT trim and up, the Colorado comes with an 8-in infotainment screen running Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment software, which is generally regarded as being pretty easy to use. Like on the Ranger, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility is included.
Both vehicles can also be had with 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi. Altogether, in terms of infotainment, these two trucks are pretty evenly matched.
Both of these trucks come with a pretty basic interior offered with either fabric or leather seating surfaces. The Colorado has a standard power driver’s seat and an optional power passenger seat. Build quality in the Colorado is weak, with rough plastics and a primitive ignition cylinder that seems to be pulled right out of the 1980s — you don’t buy the Colorado if you’re looking for luxury. The Ranger isn’t much better, although complaints here can be tied more to its uninspired cabin design, as its build quality is more confidence-inspiring than that of the Colorado. Power seats are added on the top of the line Lariat trim. The Ranger comes with one dial for controlling various 4WD features just to the left of the shift knob, while the Colorad’s 4×4 controls are located on buttons at the base of the center stack. Both vehicles offer a screen in their gauge cluster, but the Ranger’s is far more modern and sophisticated than what you get in the Colorado.
Looking at crew cab models, the Ranger offers 39.8 inches of front seat headroom and up to 43.1 inches of front seat legroom. The Colorado is a little larger, offering 41.4 inches and 45.0 inches, respectively. In their second rows, both the Ranger and the Colorado offer 38.3 inches of headroom. The Colorado offers slightly more legroom with 35.8 inches to the Ranger’s 34.5.
The Ranger offers a slightly larger bed than the Colorado when it comes to overall volume. With the larger 6-foot bed, the Ranger has around 52 cu ft. of space to the Colorado’s 50, while crew cab Rangers with the 5-foot bed offer 43 cu ft. to the Colorado’s 41.
The Ranger and the Colorado are both tough, well-rounded midsize pickups. While they don’t offer the size, towing capacity and outright brawn of their respective full-size counterparts, they both come with competent powertrains and offer good maneuverability, along with a few different cab configurations and off-road trim levels, allowing you to tailor either one to your liking. When it comes down to it, neither will set the world on fire in terms of overall refinement, and both offer uninspired cabins that could use an update. While the two vehicles are pretty evenly matched on the surface, the Ford earns a leg up on the Colorado when it comes to active safety technology, and its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 10-speed transmission are easily the best powertrain in the segment, offering the power of the Colorado V6 with nearly the same towing capacity as the diesel. For this reason, as long as you aren’t looking for hardcore off-road capability, we recommend the Ranger over the Colorado. Find a Ford Ranger for sale or Find a Chevrolet Colorado for sale