Trucks & SUVs

The Ford Ranger Proved to Be the Fastest Midsize Truck

Although not as powerful as their full-size counterparts, the midsize truck segment has become quite popular. For now, only six are available, but we would love to see more in the future. The Jeep Gladiator, a newcomer for 2020, is a fantastic off-roader with an impressive towing capacity. The Ford Ranger was revamped for 2019, and the Nissan Frontier will also receive a complete redesign next year.

In addition to their ample towing power, these vehicles are often quite speedy by truck standards. Which one is the fastest? Fast Lane Truck recently put a Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator, and Ford Ranger to a speed test. Thanks to one key component, the Ford Ranger dominated this race.

Comparing the Jeep Gladiator and Honda Ridgeline

Under their hoods, these two trucks have nearly identical engines in terms of power. The Honda Ridgeline totes a 3.5-liter V6 capable of 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. It comes with standard front-wheel drive, with the option to upgrade to all-wheel drive.

The new Jeep Gladiator has a 3.6-liter V6 with an output of 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission, but a Rubicon trim with the optional eight-speed automatic was used for this test. It’s only available with four-wheel drive. Both vehicles come with an off-road traction management system, but the Ridgeline isn’t as built for rock-crawling as the Gladiator.

When put to the test, the Gladiator was quicker to launch from the starting line. However, once the Ridgeline’s transmission kicked into gear, it was easily able to pass Jeep’s contender. The Ridgeline cleared the test with a time of 8.2 seconds, whereas the Gladiator crossed the finish line at 10.2 seconds.

The Ford Ranger has a completely different drivetrain

Instead of a V6, the Ford Ranger has a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s a little underpowered at 270 hp, but it’s also turbocharged and has 310 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Ford Ranger has standard rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is also available.

Unlike its competition, it does not come standard with a traction management control system. However, its base trim is also much cheaper at around $24,000. Without any special equipment, both the Ridgeline and Gladiator cost around $33,000 each.

The Honda Ridgeline vs. the Ford Ranger

A Ford Ranger is seen during the Vienna Car Show press preview at Messe Wien, as part of Vienna Holiday Fair
The Ford Ranger | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

Since the Jeep Gladiator secured last place, the Ranger only had to race against the Ridgeline. This time, the Ridgeline had a speedy acceleration from the starting line. However, it couldn’t beat the Ranger’s turbocharged engine. Ford’s midsize truck crossed the finish line in just 7.6 seconds.

With the speed test out of the way, the Fast Lane Truck crew wanted to determine each truck’s fuel economy next. The EPA estimates that the Ranger and Ridgeline are the best with a combined rating of 22 mpg and 21 mpg, respectively. The Jeep Gladiator sits a few points below at a combined 19 mpg.

Since real-world mileage numbers can differ, the trucks were taken out for mostly highway driving. As expected, the Jeep Gladiator was the worst on gas at 20.6 mpg. Since the Ridgeline has an economy driving mode, it ended up scoring at the best at 27.5 mpg.

The Ford Ranger ranked close behind the Ridgeline at 26.7 mpg. However, without the Ridgeline’s economy mode, there’s a possibility the Ranger would have won this test as well. Overall, the Ford Ranger is an excellent midsize offering, and its turbocharged engine is a huge plus.