Buyers of Fords compact pickup like to drive distinctive trucks. With that in mind, Ford has some new option groups for its 2003 Ranger. A Tremor 4x2 SuperCab audio package with a 485-watt Pioneer sound system is still offered. Ford calls its new FX4/Level II option, featuring Bilstein shocks and Alcoa forged-aluminum wheels, the True Off-Road Enthusiast Package.
Early in 2003, the Ranger line will add a Wheels and Tunes package that includes a CD/Mach MP3 player and cat-eye aluminum wheels for the XLT 4x2 SuperCab. On a more practical note, larger front rotors and calipers for 2003 improve the Rangers braking.
The sporty Edge option group conveys the assertive look of a four-wheel-drive (4WD) Ranger but with a lower price. Aimed at young buyers, Edge pickups have a monochromatic exterior, a raised power dome hood, bed-rail covers and a mesh grille, plus the ride height of a 4x4.
Ford holds a controlling interest in Mazda, which markets the B-Series Trucks that are closely related to the Ranger.
The Ranger comes in three sizes, with a choice of two cabs and bed lengths. Regular-cab pickups are available with a 6- or 7-foot cargo bed, while the SuperCab (extended-cab) version is fitted exclusively with a 6-foot bed. The short-bed pickups are available with a smooth-sided cargo bed or with flared rear fenders in Flareside form.
The Rangers styling is inherited from the companys larger F-Series. The power-dome hood leads into a painted platinum honeycomb grille on most models; the XL version has platinum-colored grille bars, while the XLT displays chrome bars. The Edge and 4x4 XLT trucks have large, recessed fog lamps. Two rear-hinged rear doors, which are optional on SuperCab models, can be opened only after the front doors are open.
Regular-Cab models ride a 111.6- or 117.6-inch wheelbase and measure approximately 188 inches long overall; however, the long-wheelbase Styleside version stretches to 199.5 inches long overall. SuperCab Rangers have a 126-inch wheel span and are about 202 inches long overall. An optional tubular cargo-bed extension adds 2 feet of length to the 6-foot bed. A hard, two-piece tonneau cover is optional.
Regular-cab Rangers seat two occupants on a split bench or optional bucket seats. SuperCab models add a pair of rear jump seats. Like all jump seats in compact pickups, the Rangers rear seats are too small to hold adults comfortably.
Under the Hood
Two-wheel-drive (2WD) Rangers are equipped with a 143-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. A 154-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is standard in 4WD and SuperCab models and optional for other 2WD Rangers. Topping the list of engine choices is a 207-hp, 4.0-liter single-overhead-cam V-6. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, and a five-speed-automatic transmission is optional. A dashboard switch can engage 4WD while the vehicle is moving. The 3.0-liter V-6 is available for flex-fuel operation.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Child-safety seat anchors and tethers are new for 2003.
This compact pickup is pleasant to drive, friendly in personality and capable in every significant respect. The Ranger rides and handles on par with its domestic competitors from General Motors and Dodge. It is attractive, well designed, solidly built and reasonably comfortable inside.