2019+ Ford Ranger | Way Better Than Expected If I had to distill my impressions of the new Ford Ranger pickup truck into a concise phrase it would have to be, it defies expectations. The latest iteration of Ford’s Iconic Ranger has been available for about a year now, and in that time I have seen review after review pan it. Most complain about the ride and styling. My only guess for reasoning behind those reviewer’s claims is they aren’t really truck guys. Let's crawl underneath and see what's going on under the skin. Not the best weather to shoot photos in, but the rain does make this paint color look great. In my humble opinion, as someone who has not been without at least one Ford Truck in his fleet for the last twenty years, our 2019 Ranger test truck is the best riding and handling non-specialty truck Ford currently builds. Ride quality is certainly subjective so your mileage may vary, but I came away very impressed. I like a truck to ride like a truck; firm but not kidney-bruisingly-harsh. The Ranger suspension engineers nailed that. Not only that, the Ranger also feels surprisingly connected to the pavement. When you combine all that with a properly stiff fully-boxed frame and what you’re left with is a truck that feels much more planted and capable than its relatively small size would lead you to be. Got a little fancy with the review video this time around. Ford's new LED headlights are great. I love that the lights on the Ranger aren't lager than it's wheels, like we've been seeing Ford trucks for the last 10 years. Further, the new Ranger appears to be quite solidly constructed. I haven’t put it on the scales, but it seems to be fairly heavily built. Ford saw fit to give the Ranger some work truck street cred with its Dana rear axle, 4-wheel-disc brakes, and 6-lug wheels. The panel gaps are tight and the interior is remarkably squeak free. Unwanted NVH is really kept to a minimum. There are some oddities and quirks left over some the Ranger’s off-shore origins. One such example would be the undersized control buttons. They are simply smaller than I am accustomed to in a Ford truck and can be a bit difficult to accurately target without taking your eyes off the road (nevermind trying it changes a setting with a gloved hand). I'm not super impressed by the Ranger's climate controls. It's 2020. Ford can, and should, do better that using this 'parts-bin' cluster in a truck this expensive. The buttons aren’t my only complaint about the interior. I’m sad to say that our test Ranger had the absolute worst seats I have ever experienced in a Ford. They are rock hard and left me feeling fatigued after only an hour in them. I’m not sure how they are so bad. I own a Fiesta ST with the optional Recaros, and those are super firm. I have driven 36 hours straight in the ST (now that’s a story) and felt more spry after that than I did after 8 hours in the Ranger. The sad thing is that the seats look really great and the heaters worked fantastically. Perhaps the cloth versions in lower trim level models are more comfortable, but for now I can’t recommend the beautiful leather seats in the Lariat if you’re planning on taking longer trips. Not the best tires on road, but they are competent in the dirt. A couple other minor complaints would be that the interior is quite ‘plasticy’ for a truck with a $45,000 MSRP. The stitched vinyl dash looks really nice, and there’s a bit of soft touch material around the arm rests on the door panels. Other than that, there’s lots of hard plastic everywhere. Fuel mileage wasn’t so great on the highway (watch our video review for more on that). In fact, I’ve gotten better mileage from a 2.7L EcoBoost F-150. In fact, that’s the exact truck I would consider the biggest competition for the Ranger (especially when you factor in price). It's great that Ford is integrating these air intake scoops into their newer vehicles. Gone are the days of picking up 20HP by ripping out silencers and snorkels from the factory intake tract. However, the Ranger is far more maneuverable than any full-size truck. It is hands-down better in town than an F-150. IMO, that is one of the major selling points for the Ranger. It makes a much easier to live with daily driver than a larger truck, especially if it has all the payload and towing capacity you would need. Another highlight is the drivetrain. While many are not fans of the 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost engine (the only engine currently available in the Ranger) I can tell you with certainty that it is a potent little powerplant. In stock form it’s a strong the 2.3L moves the truck along well. With just a tune and a few minor bolt-ons you can surprise quite a few people with sub-6 second 0-60 MPH times. The always fantastic 10R80 transmission plays a large role in that performance as well. Not a bad looking transfer case, but I miss the manually shifted one that was available on the original FX4 Ranger in 2002. (I owned one.) My biggest takeaway from our time with the Ranger is hope for the future. The Ranger is surprisingly better than you’ve been told, and it is going to be the basis for the soon to be released 2021 Bronco. I can only imagine how much better it will be. And beyond that, if Ford really wanted to blow my socks off they would release the Ranger Raptor upon the US. That truck with a 3.0L TT EcoBoost from the Explorer ST would be flat out nasty. I would consider that just about the best DD for my uses, but I doubt we’ll ever see such a machine from Ford. A hotted up Bronco is much more likely. However, for the time being the current Ranger is a very nice small truck. If you’re in the market for a truck in this segment I highly suggest you give one a test drive. You may just be surprised how much you like the new Ranger too. No more Ford 8.8. The new Ranger comes with a Dana axle out back. I love having disc brakes on all four corners of the Ranger. They work very well.