The Ford Ranger has a reputation for being a tough but versatile truck. The Ranger offers athletic hauling and towing and has an engine that’s efficient and powerful, which is what most truck fans are looking for. The Ford Ranger handles well, gets great gas mileage, and has a cozy interior. There are enough features to make truck fans happy, including one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems in its class.
Sounds good, right? There are, however, some weaknesses that the Ford Ranger has that you’ll want to know about before you consider buying one.
The 2020 Ford Ranger
One of the best-selling midsize pickup trucks on the market today, the Ford Ranger is loaded with features, and there are three trim levels to choose from.
The base truck is the Ford Ranger XL, which offers a nice balance of value and performance. It’s lighter than the other two trims, which makes for better ride quality and good acceleration. It may not have all the bells and whistles the other two offer, but it’s faster and smoother. Unlike some of its peers, it offers automated emergency braking and forward collision warning as standard.
The XL model comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 10-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode. The XL has a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, and with the right configuration has a payload capacity of up to 2,080 pounds. The truck comes with rear-wheel drive as standard, but four-wheel drive is an option.
The XLT and Lariat configurations don’t offer other drivetrain options, but they do offer lots of other great technology and safety features. There are also a lot of great upgrades and appearance packages available with the upper trim levels. For 2020, they also added an FX2 Off-Road Package.
Common problems with the Ford Ranger
Keeping in mind that the Ford Ranger was absent from North America after the 2011 releases until the 2019 models. Common complaints from reviewers and consumers on the new models include a stiff ride and lackluster materials used in the interior, which to some appear dated.
If you’re in a market for an older Ranger, here are some issues that you need to know about.
The 2002 Ford Ranger models, according to Car Complaints, have seven recalls and 486 complaints that are centered around transmission problems and the sporadic flashing of the overdrive light. One 2002 Ford Ranger owner in North Carolina developed major transmission issues at 120,000 miles and recommended skipping the fix by just having the transmission completely rebuilt. Another owner in Kentucky experienced shifting issues to the point that it impedes their progress in either drive or reverse.
The 2004 Ford Ranger models have a total of eight recalls and 462 complaints according to Car Complaints. The issues with this model largely have to do with engine troubles and misfires. One owner of a 2004 Ford Ranger in California experienced engine stalling and misfires. The problems continued after taking the truck to two separate dealerships. The third dealership fixed the issue, but it was a major repair that required them to pull out the engine. Another Nevada owner had similar experiences that started at 30,000 miles.
There are also problems with the 2007 Ford Rangers. There are three recalls and 308 complaints centered around transmission and shifting issues along with steering problems. One owner of this model in New Hampshire ended up with a lengthy, difficult experience that resulted in rebuilding the transmission and having to buy another truck in the meantime.
If you’re considering a used Ranger
While the 2019 and 2020 models seem pretty capable so far, there are reports of transmissions issues rising again. Keep an eye out if you’re considering an older model and do your homework. The Ford Ranger is a quality truck, but some older models have issues that may result in expensive repairs and a vehicle unavailable to you while it’s being fixed.
You may want to steer clear of the 2002, 2004, and 2007 models. With other models, research them carefully by paying attention to NHTSA recalls, consumer complaints, and objective reviews from authoritative resources.