The Ford Ranger is a quarter ton truck that was introduced in 1983 to compete with the popular Japanese light trucks. It is Ford's smallest and least expensive pickup truck. In 1994 it was adopted by Mazda and is sold as their B-Series.
The truck is available in both rear wheel and four wheel drive, standard or automatic. It is available in both standard and long wheelbases. It comes in 4 trim levels, custom is the base model, with XL, XLS, and XLT being fancier.
It has undergone two major design changes since its inception, in 1993 and 1998. In 1993 the truck moved to a sleeker design. It was given more rounded edges and a renovation inside. In 1998 it got a new suspension, power steering, new (more comfortable) seats, and became available with a four door option. 4-wheel ABS was added, too. Current models come with all sorts of nifty features like remote keyless entry, really nice stereos, and cruise control.
Engine horsepower has been upgraded almost every year, the original trucks came with a 2.3 liter engine capable of only 80 horsepower. After several generations they are now available with 4.0 liter 207 horsepower engines (the same used in the Explorer).
Our family owned a 1992 two wheel drive Ranger for six years and we've recently tested one (to replace our current SUV).
The truck is remarkably fast and very light. It was quite capable for such a light vehicle and could easily haul around our (quite heavy) snowmobile. It got us out of pretty much anything we got it into (and we got it into some pretty serious off-road conditions).
Comfort is great for the driver and the front seat passenger, but even with the extended cab the back is terrible. Trying to haul more than two people is not fun.
A few points that come to mind:
- The battery would occasionally die in our truck for no apparent reason, requiring a jumpstart.
- The steering system has undergone major improvements, and the newer (post 1998) models are much better.
- The back is so light that ballast is necessary in the winter to prevent the back end from sliding around.
- It can be a bit noisy at high speed (which is understandable, considering that it has the aerodynamic qualities of a brick).
- The standard transmission is very forgiving, the clutch has a huge bite zone. This makes it great to learn on.
- With the proper mounting hardware, it will easily carry three canoes into the middle of the woods.
This is a great truck. I will very likely buy one after I'm through university.