The midsize pickup truck has always been the obvious choice for buyers who like the reliable capabilities of a full-size pickup truck, want a bold aesthetic, but don’t really want that truck filling up their garage or driveway.
Pickup trucks are not the most practical choice of vehicle for many people, including some of the millions who own them. If you don’t use this bed for transportation or use, it can become wasted space. Fortunately, pickups are no longer just for work – they’re now a lifestyle symbol.
The Ranger adheres to the three-box pickup standard, though I appreciate the softer lines up front. My tester was an XLT SuperCrew with the Tremor package, which added beefy tires and increased ground clearance.
Available external packages can either add chrome or remove it for matching colored panels. The 2022 Ranger offers a new Splash Package with a black and orange accent on the exterior that is repeated on the interior details.
My tester featured the ($495) Toughbed with sprayer, which is a factory option for the 6-foot bed on extended-cab trucks or the 5-foot bed that goes into the crew cab. All trucks have rear doors that open easily.
Stepping up to the XLT adds a few extra features to the XL, including alloy wheels, color-coded exterior trim, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Ford has several packages that allow you to tailor the Ranger to your specific needs. The FX2 package, for example, adds some chunky off-road tires and a beefed-up suspension. The Sport package gives a Ranger more suited to rough driving, while the Tremor package aims to make the Ranger as off-road as possible. It adds a raised suspension with Fox shocks and 17-inch alloy wheels with off-road rubber.
The Ranger cabin offers a standard dashboard without any special features. Ahead are spacious seats covered with fabric. Look for some plastic finishes mixed with mostly soft-touch surfaces.
My XLT trim level had a power driver’s seat with manual adjustment for the passenger. The seats are well bolstered and provide a comfortable seating position with a great view of the road.
Base extended-cab models have small rear seats for occasional use, while a crew-cab-mounted bench seat can accommodate adults for longer trips. A small sliding rear window panel behind the rear seat is an option. My version of the SuperCrew offers nearly 98 cubic feet of cargo space.
An optional 8.0-inch touchscreen interfaced with Ford’s nice infotainment system. I found it quite intuitive to use, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The Ranger is powered by a single powerplant, a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, pretty decent numbers for a mid-size pickup truck. I found the 10-speed automatic to be quite responsive, making the most of the available power and providing crisp acceleration from any speed. It’s not a sports car, for sure, and the Ranger sits in the middle of the rankings with a 0-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds.
The optional four-wheel drive system is a partial installation that is not intended for use on dry pavement. A useful locking rear differential is a separate option on most trims, while adding the FX4 or Tremor off-road packages opens up more traction control modes.
Another big plus for the Ranger was its maximum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. Acceleration to 60 mph in just 7.4 seconds. I found it lacked a lot of driver feedback and tended to roll a bit in corners.
Even though it’s a small pickup, it gets just 20 mpg, which is still the best in the segment. On the other hand, the smaller dimensions contribute to a better driving experience and much easier maneuverability compared to any full-size pickup truck.
Ford Ranger 2022 offers the perfect balance between ride comfort and the ability to carry heavy cargo. The small size offers decent towing power, a well-equipped cabin and a base price of $25,500. My XLT tester with the Tremor package came in at $44,375, which still makes the Ford Ranger a tough model to argue against.
• John Stein is a freelance journalist from Chicago. He has over 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and vehicles.