2019 Ranger is here and will take no prisoners in quest to be segment leader – Ford
With the long-awaited arrival of the all-new 2019 Ford Ranger, the mid-size truck competition is setting up to explode in 2019. Tacoma – the long running segment leader – had better take notice because Ranger is gunning for them.
Designed from the ground up for North America, the new 2019 Ford Ranger offers just three models and a handful of well-crafted packages and available options for the discriminating mid-size buyer. Easy to configure to purpose, buyers can craft a refined daily driver (that does outback) or a bold adventure vehicle (that also does city) – whichever best compliments their lifestyle.
In any case, the buyer is getting solid engineering, lots of technology and best-in-class performance in key areas like towing 7,500 pounds all models and, depending on the model, payload up to 1,860 pounds and fuel economy up to 26 mpg highway.
Over the last several months, there was lots of conversation about the new Ranger. Would it be more of a Lariat level family daily driver or more like a Raptor adventure vehicle?
Based on our first look, we think there is plenty of both in whichever model a buyer selects.
2019 Ford Ranger XLT CrewCab 4×2
Ford had a couple of dozen of the new Rangers for media to choose from at the launch drive out of La Jolla, CA last week. All trims XL, XLT and Lariat along with both SuperCab and CrewCab in both 4×4 and 4×2 configurations were available.
We chose the Ranger XLT CrewCab 4×2 as it will likely be most selected by consumers buying a new Ranger.
Our selected XLT CrewCab 4×2 was in an eye-popping Hot Pepper Metallic Tinted Clearcoat with a Sport Appearance Package adding Magnetic toned 17-inch premium wheels, grille, front and rear bumpers, and wheel lip moldings.
Inside, we found Medium Stone premium cloth seating stylishly executed front and rear. The center console had lots of storage with good connectivity. The bucket front seats were 8-way power and heated. Cabin spaces were roomy and the seating comfortable. All controls were nicely placed for easy access with all information screens easy to read and manage.
Of particular note was the nice selection and integration of premium-look materials and textures in complementing gray and metal matte tones throughout the cabin.
Powertrain and Mechanical
The 2.3L EcoBoost engine features Auto Stop/Start and delivers 270 horsepower with 310 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a 10-speed SelectShift Automatic Transmission.
We found the Ranger’s power to be well balanced and responsive with that combination. Climbing over 4,000 feet on the 75-mile run to the ranch, we encountered city, highway, and expressway plus lots of twisting switch back canyon and ridge roads in the last 50 miles.
Overall, the powertrain performed very well with plenty of power that we expect should handle payload and towing easily.
Road manners for Ranger were very good. It’s frame and suspension, braking and steering were all well synched making it easy and comfortable to both drive and ride.
Technology and Infotainment
Our Ranger XLT came with Ford Sync3 that included an 8-inch LCD Center Stack Touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom, voice activated Touchscreen Navigation, SiriusXM functionality, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and two Smart Charge USB ports. Also included were a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot that connects up to 10 devices, remote start, keyless entry and remote tailgate lock.
Driver assist and safety technology included Adaptive Cruise Control, Ford’s CO-Pilot360 with Auto-High Beam Headlamps, BLIS Blind Spot information with CrossTraffic Alert and Trailer Tow Monitoring, Lane Keeping System with Lane Keeping Aid and Driver Alert, Pre-Collision Assist with Emergency Braking including Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support. Other features included Forward and Reverse Sensing, Rear View Camera and 110V AC Power Outlet.
Testing Ranger Off-Road
At the ranch, we switched to a Ranger 4×4 to do the off-road testing. The course Ford carved was long and included nearly all of the elements that typical Ranger owners might encounter in adventuring runs into the outback. The only element missing was serious rock crawling, but we think – based on the toolset of the XLT 4×4 that we switched to – the new Ranger should handle them pretty easily.
All Rangers have the basics for off-road to start. They include a high-strength frame with steel front and rear bumpers, 8.4-inch ground clearance, short overhangs front and rear and Dana Trac-Lok differentials.
The FX4 package adds an Electronic Locking Differential, Front Tow Hooks, Off-Road Tuned Suspension, Front Steel Bash Plate, Skid Plates for fuel tank, transfer case and front differential plus 265/65 R17 A/T OWL tires.
Included also are Ford’s Terrain Management System, Trail Control technology and an Off-Road Management Screen in the driver information cluster.
The shift-on-the-fly Terrain Management System (similar to Raptor) has four distinct drive modes. They are: Normal, Grass, Gravel and Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand. Making several runs over the course – that included sand, loose dirt, ruts, small rocks and a whopping mudhole – we found the various modes handled the terrain challenges nicely.
Ford’s new Trail Control technology replaces Hill-Descent and Crawl Control features found on competitors. Initiating the technology and setting a desired speed to maintain (up to 20 mph) on the Terrain Management Screen – the technology takes over acceleration and braking for the driver allowing them to focus on the terrain and steering.
Charging around the course – that also included moguls and high bank terrain – we found the off-road systems package delivered traction without hesitation to individual wheels – enabling swift and confident handling of terrain changes.
The 2019 Ford Ranger is MSRP priced from (including destination) $25,395 to $39,480.
Our Ranger XLT Crew Cab 4×2 as tested MSRP was $30,115.
Including several packages and options including Sport Appearance, Technology and Towing plus spray-in bedliner and more, the delivered price was $36,190 – right in the sweet spot for the average mid-size buyer.
Ranger XLT CrewCab 4×4 FX4
A Ranger XLT CrewCab 4×2 is a very capable truck both around town and into the outback. But if you are that more serious off-roader in the mid-size truck market, you will likely want a Ranger XLT CrewCab 4×4 with the FX4 Off-Road Package like the one we off-road tested.
The updated delivered price of a Ranger similar to our road-tested 2019 Ford Ranger CrewCab XLT 4×2 – instead in 4×4 with FX4 Package – would have been $41,400 – a whole lot of truck for a discriminating buyer.
Ford has an impressive list of accessory partners lined up to accent the adventure focus of the 2019 Ranger.
They include the likes of Yakima, Thule, Bushwacker, Gatorback, Rigid, Covercraft, Warn and more including Ford. Accessories range from racks of all types that accommodate every kind of recreational equipment; plus tents, tonneau covers, storage boxes, cargo baskets, lighting, splash guards, fender flares and more.
We keep hearing that question. Yes, Ford builds a Ranger Raptor in South Africa for offshore markets, but don’t expect one here anytime soon.
As with most global nameplates, an offshore Ranger does not meet the North American regulatory requirements and is not keyed to US consumer tastes. Simply, it was easier (and less expensive) for Ford to tailor a Ranger to North America and build it in Wayne, Michigan.
Bottom line, a new North American Ranger CrewCab 4×4 equipped with the FX Package – will deliver enough Raptor-like performance to please most drivers on or off-road.
One Request of Ford
We would though, ask Ford to add their Raptor forward facing camera system either to the FX Package or as a stand-alone option. In more extreme off-roading – rock crawling for sure – the ability to view the terrain just in front real time would measurably enhance the experience and improve safety.
For more coverage of the Ford Ranger –