The Best Ford Ranger Model Years You Should Buy

The Ford Ranger pickup truck has been in production on and off since 1983. That’s almost 40 years of Rangers, over four different generations of the model. The new generation is just around the corner, starting with the 2023 model year. As it gets closer, we’ll look at which older model years are best to buy used and which ones you should avoid at all costs.

The current Ford Ranger generation is mostly unproblematic

The 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor Lariat light pickup truck in red parked atop a hill of uneven terrain and rocks
2021 Ford Ranger Tremor Lariat | The Ford Motor Company

Starting in 2019, the current generation of Ford Ranger models are good pickup trucks. Though they are a little bit underwhelming, they’re still good options. The model years from 2019 to 2021 are good used vehicle options at a reasonable price.

Not much has changed since production began year over year, which is why ratings mostly remain the same. It also means that whichever model year you can find cheapest is going to be the best option. As for what’s terrible, the main complaint from most trusted reviewers is the dated interior. The performance, safety, and reliability all rank near the top for the most part, so if a simple interior doesn’t bother you, check out the current-gen Ford Ranger.

Older models have a great reputation

Ronald and Nancy Reagan stand next to their 1995 Ford Ranger
Ronald and Nancy, with their new Ford Ranger pick up, in their Californian Ranch “Rancho del Cielo”. | Jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma via Getty Images

The Ford Ranger began production in 1983, and even back then, the pickup truck had an excellent reputation. Proper maintenance is necessary for buying any used vehicle, but old model years have received very few complaints. If you’re able to find a high-quality and well-cared-for model from the ’80s or ’90s up until 1999, buy it. Though they might not be the most well-equipped or fuel-efficient compared to today, they aren’t unreliable either.

Always be careful buying any vehicle over 20 years old, and find the model year that’s right for you. First and second-generation models are known for their capability and reliability, which is why we recommend them. After all, there’s a reason customers have allowed Ford to produce this pickup truck for so long.

The best used Ford Ranger model year

The 2021 Ford Ranger off-roading
2021 Ford Ranger | Ford

It seems obvious, but the best used Ford Ranger is the most recent. The 2021 Ranger took what was good about the 2019 and 2020 models and built on them. With the upcoming release of the 2022 Ranger and the 2023 reveal, the 2021 model year will take a slight dip in price. Over the next few years, the 2020 Ranger will be a great used pickup truck option.

It has better safety ratings than its two predecessors and doesn’t cost much more in the current used vehicle market. New for the 2021 model year is new exterior colors, a black appearance package, and the Tremor off-road package. Each of these packages enhances the Ranger to give it capability not found in previous models.

Which Ford Ranger model years to avoid

Throughout its lifetime, the Ranger hasn’t had many terrible model years. There are a few that require avoidance. First and foremost, the 1999 Ford Ranger, which is known for having major engine, wheel, brakes, and electrical problems, according to the NHTSA. This model year was unreliable back then, and it’s most likely worse now than ever before.

After 1999, the Ranger became a lot better. The early 2000’s through to 2008 model years had many problems, though not nearly as many as the millennium-ending model. The most recent problematic Ranger is the 2008 model year, which has plenty of issues of its own. The majority of which consist of seatbelt and airbag issues, which have been reported 289 times by the NHTSA. We’d recommend avoiding the 2008 Ranger altogether if you’re shopping for used models.

Overall, the Ford Ranger is a competent pickup truck that has been primarily reliable over the years. It’s built itself an excellent reputation as a solid option for those interested in a smaller truck. The newest models are the best-used options, and consequently, the most expensive. Though only a few model years require avoidance, we’d recommend sticking with the current generation since the Ford Ranger skipped so many years between generations.

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