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2020 Ford Ranger Review

Ford was banking a lot on its midsize pickup when it debuted last year. The 2020 Ford Ranger now returns, not at the top of the midsize-truck-sales heap where many thought it would be, but in the middle of the segment pack. Through the end of the first three quarters of 2019, its sales ran neck-and-neck with the long-in-the-tooth Nissan Frontier but seriously trailed the Chevrolet Colorado and segment-leading Toyota Tacoma. No one seems to have the answer for why that is.

By nearly any yardstick, the Ford Ranger is a solid competitor, with its class-leading towing, comfy cabin and athletic performance. In fact, we see it as the segment leader in several categories. Ford didn’t fuss with it for 2020, and we’re just fine with that, despite a few nits we have to pick. We would like to see a longer bed available with the larger SuperCrew cab and a touchscreen in all trim levels. Otherwise, we think it’s a top-notch truck in search of its audience.

What’s New for 2020?

Other than a few new exterior colors, the Ranger returns for 2020 unchanged. See the 2020 Ford Ranger models for sale near you

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
  • No standard touchscreen
  • No driver seat height adjustment without power seats

How Much?

$25,605-$35,870

Fuel Economy

Unique for the segment, the Ranger is offered with only one engine and one transmission choice: a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, and 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 at 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 the 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 the cab and the drivetrain.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 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. All prices include the $1,195 factory destination charge.

Standard equipment on the XL ($25,605 SuperCab; $28,005 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 a blind spot monitoring system with rear-cross traffic alert and trailer tow monitoring.

The XLT ($29,655 SuperCab; $31,830 SuperCrew) includes the above optional equipment plus 17-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, an upgraded exterior trim, rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, an 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, which 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 ($33,695 SuperCab; $35,870 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 the XLT and the Lariat) that includes integrated navigation and adaptive cruise control.

Optional on every trim level is the FX4 Off-Road package, which 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 or 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.

Safety

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 trims 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.

In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Ranger SuperCrew received the best score of ‘Good’ in all but the small-overlap front passenger side crash test, for which it received a score of ‘Acceptable.’ In government crash tests, the SuperCrew got four out of five possible stars overall, receiving the top score of five stars only in the side crash test. In all other crash tests, it received four stars.

Behind the Wheel

If you’re expecting the 2020 Ford 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 feels somewhat lumbering by comparison, and even the fairly sporty Toyota Tacoma would feel a little less lively if the two were 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 smooth for the segment. Road noise is also notably lower than in the Tacoma. Really, only the unibody, crossover-like Honda Ridgeline might outdo the Ranger in terms of civility.

The same can be said for the interior. The material 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 its 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 which, unsurprisingly, 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 the near-zero legroom, the backrest feels like it’s mounted at an 80-degree angle. The SuperCrew is the obvious choice for people with actual back seat needs, and we found it especially spacious and comfortable for the segment.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Ridgeline If you don’t need the Ranger’s stronger towing, hauling and off-roading capabilities (and many truck owners do not), the crossoverlike 2020 Ridgeline is the only pickup that surpasses the Ranger’s comfort, space and civilized driving experience.

2020 Toyota Tacoma If you’re OK with a more rugged driving experience, the 2020 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?

2020 Chevrolet Colorado The 2020 Colorado aces the Ranger in two main areas: It’s available with a Crew Cab/long bed body combo, and its ZR2 off-road models offer hardcore capabilities the Ranger can’t touch. Otherwise, we think the Ranger has the upper hand.

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 can pick up a used or certified pre-owned F-150 for the price of a new Ranger.

Autotrader’s Advice

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 SYNC 3 touchscreen interface, which both greatly improve interior functionality. Find a Ford Ranger for sale

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