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The Ultimate Truck Guide

Wes Siler Reviews His 2019 Ford Ranger

Car journalist turned dog-camping guy Wes Siler takes a look at the new-for-2019 Ford Ranger. Living in Montana, Wes drives off-road virtually every day, and he's turned to the Ranger to fulfill his need for a hard-use adventure vehicle. Compared to the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, the Ranger offers a much more modern engine and transmission, delivering both better performance and better fuel economy, along with lower gearing that enhances its off-road ability. While it lacks the ultimate rock-crawling capability (and doesn't feature as low a crawl ratio) of the Jeep Gladiator, the Ranger's superior powertrain and independent front suspension make it a much more comfortable place to spend time—an important consideration both for daily driving and long-distance travel. Wes equipped this Ranger with the $1,295 FX4 package, which, unlike its rivals, boosts off-road capability across all trim levels. That means the performance you see here is even available at a sub-$30,000 price. Special thanks to Go Fast Campers for use of their shop. 

Video Transcript

WES SILER: So this is all new 2019 Ford Ranger, and I think this is the best pickup truck on sale in America right now for people who do stuff outdoors. I'm going to show you why. 

[MUSIC PLAYING] 

So the mid-sized truck market has kind of lagged for a while. It's been full of products that have been not that impressive, pretty cheap. But mid-sized trucks have also always made really good adventure vehicles for those of us that use our trucks to support other outdoor activities. 

They're just a good size, being a little smaller than the full sizes. They fit offroad a little better, a little better fuel economy. But everybody's just not done a great job yet. And I think Ford with this truck, with this Ranger, has done that good job for the first time. 

This is the 2019 Ford Ranger. So I've had this truck as it sits here less than a week. But I have a lot of experience with this platform. Because a couple of years ago, I took it across the most difficult desert crossing in Australia in the same truck. 

This has been on sale in Australia and in Asia and parts of Africa since 2011. And it's a proven platform that we know can go off road, that we know can last, that we know can hold up to long term abuse. 

Just got back from taking this truck off road for the first time. And honestly even coming into this with pretty high expectations and some experience in the platform, I'm really impressed with what Ford North America has done with the changes they've done bringing it to this country. 

It's incredibly smooth off road. The ride is exceptionally good. The engine is really powerful. This thing really accelerates in a surprisingly strong way for having such a small motor. It's a 2.3 liter turbo-charged four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet. That's more torque than any other truck in the class. 

More importantly, it makes that torque really down low. So when you go off road, you're working at very low speeds. And you want a motor that really pulls at very low RPMs so you're not thrashing up high. You just want something that just makes uphills easy and downhill, in a sense, controlled, and just is always there to provide that torque that you need to move. 

With the turbocharger, you gain a couple extra benefits. One, you don't lose power at high elevations, and two, it really gives Ford the ability to customize the power delivery to be appropriate for what a truck needs to do. Because it's connected to a 10 speed automatic transmission that in my opinion is the best transmission in the world right now of any type. 

It has more speeds. So this has a lower crawl ratio than any of the competition. It also gets better fuel economy because it has higher gearing in the top gear, which is again, 10th. 

LYRICS: Just trying to be as light, light as the breeze. 

WES SILER: So the FX4 package gives you a lot of offroad specific features, stronger shocks, skid plates, all terrain tires. What it also gives you that's really cool is Ford's train management system. And that alters settings like stability control, traction control, and throttle response to suit different conditions that you can select. 

What it also does that most people don't understand is that it constantly tweaks individual brake calipers at all four corners to replicate the function of locking differentials. So it's matching wheel speeds, not allowing one wheel which has no traction to spin up and take all your power. 

And that works a lot better than a traditional mechanical locking differential, because it comes on and off instantaneously on the fly. You don't have to rock the car or anything to activate them. It never affects your steering. It's never hard to activate. So it's just always there helping you maximize available traction without your input. And that's a really incredible benefit. It makes driving off road a really controlled, safe experience. 

So in addition to being a really good, really solid platform for adventures, the Ranger is also just a really good everyday vehicle. And this is currently my daily driver. So I go to the grocery store. I can park it in the tight parking lot. I can parallel park it on the street in front of the movie theater. 

You know, I can put my dogs in the back. I can put people in the nice four-seat cab. And you just get a truck that just feels like a really nice place to spend time. And so for me, for adventure travel, I'm going to drive this truck to Alaska and Baja in the next year. It's a nice place to cover those road miles.