Ford Ranger has been America's best-selling compact pickup for 17 years running. While the entry-level pickups from other manufacturers have moved up in size, roominess, features and refinement, the Ranger remains the only real compact pickup. Bottom line: It's getting long in the tooth but it's still a good truck. It's now sold largely on its low price, with cash rebates to sweeten the deal. Retail prices for basic work trucks start below $15,000.
Recent upgrades have improved this truck. The suspension was overhauled for 2004 with improved bushings, springs, shocks and tires all designed to improve the ride quality, and the brakes were improved for 2003. Last year saw some interior and exterior revisions as well. The result is a solid compact pickup.
A Ranger equipped with the German 4.0-liter overhead-cam V6 leaps off the line and runs quickly to speed. An optional five-speed automatic available complements each available engine with close ratios for better throttle response when accelerating, towing a trailer or driving off road.
For 2005, some new packages are available. The Ranger line is diverse and offers a wide range of options. Edge, Tremor, and FX4 models are available, with upgraded audio and wheel packages. There are Regular Cab and SuperCab extended-cab bodies, but no crew cab.
The 2005 Ranger is available in XL, XLT, Edge, and FX4 and FX4 Level II trim levels, in Regular Cab and two- and four-door SuperCab configurations. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive area available. Styleside and Flareside versions are available. A 7-foot box option is available on XLT Regular Cab Styleside models. Five-speed manual and five-speed automatic ($1,000) transmissions are available.
Three engines are available: The 2.3-liter four-cylinder is a modern dual overhead-cam design with four valves per cylinder rated at 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The optional 3.0-liter V6 is a traditional overhead-valve engine rated 154 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Ford offers this engine with flexible fuel capability, meaning it can operate on ethanol, gasoline or any combination of the two fuels in the same tank. This engine is standard on all 4x2 SuperCab models equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Topping the chart is a modern 4.0-liter V6 with single overhead-cams developing 207 horsepower and 238 pound-feet of torque.
The price-leading Ranger XL starts at just $14,365 with the 2.3-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, 2WD Regular Cab, 15-inch steel wheels. The XL is available with 2WD and 4WD, in Regular Cab and SuperCab.
XLT adds chrome trim, interior amenities (including a CD player, tilt wheel, full carpeting), and useful truck accessories (rear step bumper, sliding rear window, mud flaps). XLT 4WD models get step bars and fog lights, 16-inch aluminum wheels.
Edge models feature upgraded shock tuning and larger wheels and tires. Edge comes in 4x2 and 4x4 editions, but either way it rides at the 4x4 height. The Edge comes with either a 6-disc in-dash CD player or an MP3 player, depending on the model. The Tremor package includes an upgraded Pioneer AM/FM/MP3/6CD system with a 510-watt amp, 10-inch bass subwoofer and four large speakers. A high-output alternator keeps the current flowing and white-faced gauges add interior style. The Tremor package also includes five-spoke 16-inch wheels.
The FX4 package is for serious off-roading. The FX4, based on a four-door SuperCab XLT, comes with heavy-duty shocks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, and a limited-slip rear differential. The FX4 Level II package gets Bilstein shocks tuned for improved handling on and off road. The package includes a Torsen limited-slip axle, eight-hole Alcoa forged aluminum wheels and 31x10.5-inch B.F. Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires. It comes with stainless steel front tow hooks, black wheel lip moldings, and skid plates that cover the front suspension and differential, transfer case, and fuel tank. Two-tone, thick bolstered bucket seats and ebony interior trim lend a distinctive look, while deep-groove floor mats help protect the carpeting from slush and mud.