Ford continues to give compact-pickup buyers plenty of choices. Rangers are available with a four-cylinder or a choice of two V-6s, and with either a manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. Options range from skid plates and Bilstein shock absorbers to earth-shattering audio systems. Mazda markets a related B-Series.
Two configurations were added for 2005: regular-cab XLT models with a 7-foot cargo box and the Ranger Edge, which could be equipped with a Tremor MP3 audio and wheel package. Aimed at young buyers, the sporty Edge edition conveyed the assertive look and ride height of a four-wheel-drive Ranger at a lower price.
The Edge has been renamed Ranger Sport for 2006. Design changes for all models this year include revised bumper colors, a horizontal grille insert, fender flares, clear-lens parking lamps, new taillamps and fog lamps, and a 9-inch Ford oval on the grille and tailgate. Two-tone paint goes on FX4/Off-Road and Level II models. FX4/Off-Road pickups are now available in two- or four-door SuperCab form.
Trim levels include XL, STX, XLT, Sport, FX4 and FX4 Level II. Ford's four-cylinder engine is now standard in XL and XLT two-door SuperCab 4x2 models. New color choices for 2006 include Screaming Yellow, Torch Red and Redfire. Options now include two 15-inch forged aluminum wheels and body-colored side moldings.
Rangers come 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. SuperCab (extended-cab) versions are fitted exclusively with a 6-foot bed.
A power dome hood is installed. Two rear-hinged rear doors, which are optional on SuperCab models, can be opened only after the front doors are open. XL models have black bumpers and a black bar-style grille, while the XLT gets chrome bumpers and a chrome grille surround. Sport pickups have a honeycomb grille and body-colored bumpers.
Regular-cab models ride a 111.5- or 117.5-inch wheelbase and measure 189.0 or 198.4 inches long overall. SuperCab Rangers have a 125.7-inch wheelbase and are 203.6 inches long overall. An optional tubular cargo-bed extension can add 2 feet to the 6-foot bed's length. Skid plates and step bars are standard on FX4 Rangers.
Regular-cab Rangers seat two or three occupants on bucket seats or a 60/40-split bench, respectively. SuperCab models can be equipped with a pair of rear jump seats. Like all jump seats in compact pickups, the Ranger's rear seats are too small to hold adults comfortably. Leather-trimmed seating surfaces and sport bucket seats are available.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available: a 143-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder; a 148-hp, 3.0-liter V-6; and a 207-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 that delivers 238 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional. Rear- and four-wheel-drive models are offered, and a dashboard switch can engage four-wheel drive while the vehicle is moving.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.
Rangers are pleasant to drive and capable in every significant respect. They ride and handle on par with domestic competitors from Dodge and General Motors. Each model is attractive, well designed, solidly built and reasonably comfortable inside.