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In today’s world of expensive pickup trucks, it makes sense that buying used is something more and more buyers are considering. One popular used truck is the Ford Ranger, which has long been Ford’s mid-size pickup. But, with multiple generations and a vast range of model years, how do you know which used Ranger is actually worth buying? Like nearly every vehicle, there have been some big hits and big misses with this model. 

A brief history of the Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger first went into production back in 1982. A variety of configurations were available, including six-cylinder engines, part-time four-wheel drive, and different trim levels. It was smaller than the F-Series trucks of the day, but it still offered legitimate capability. Ideal for those who want a pickup without the large size. 

The first-gen Ranger was produced until 1993 when it was replaced by the second-gen. For the second generation, Ford made a variety of improvements. One of these includes the popular “Splash” trim level. This package came with a step-side bed which proved popular among those interested in a compact truck. 

Finally, in 1998, the Ranger entered its third generation. This version of Ford’s mid-size truck may be its most iconic. Production lasted until Ford discontinued the Ranger in the States in 2011. You could get it with the legendary Vulcan V6 engine as well as a manual transmission. Plus, Ford introduced an off-road package known as the FX4. 

Which used Ford Ranger is best?

While opting for a fourth-gen Ford Ranger will get you modern features, there is something about the 2011 Ranger that makes it worthy of consideration. It brings to the table old-school charm, which feels like something that is missing from today’s trucks. It is entirely focused on utility and practicality, helping it fulfill a variety of roles. 

A group of 2011 Ford Ranger trucks sit on a dealership lot.
2011 Ford Ranger | David Paul Morris via Getty Images

According to Vehicle History, you can find a 2011 Ford Ranger for under $20,000. And that makes it a pretty affordable option if you are in need of a mid-size truck. This Ranger might not have things like Apple CarPlay, but its interior is simple and free of things you don’t need. 

In terms of which 2011 Ranger you should buy, one with the V6 engine is likely best. Although it does not have the best fuel economy, the 4.0-liter V6 engine is known to be fairly reliable. You can get it with 4WD and even a manual transmission if you prefer. 

Is it worth it to buy a used Ranger?

The 2024 Ranger will mark the latest generation of the Blue Oval’s mid-size truck. And while it is sure to be a solid pickup, buying new is not for everyone. That is where a used Ranger comes in. 

2011 Ford Ranger mid-size trucks sit on a dealership lot. Are they the best Ford Ranger?
Ford Ranger | David Paul Morris via Getty Images

The Evolution Of The Ford Ranger Over the Years

Generally speaking, over the years, this pickup has been a decent truck. If you can find a 2011 model in good condition, it is probably a vehicle that is worthy of consideration. But, with all used vehicles, it is best to check things like service history to ensure that you are getting a mid-size pickup that is roadworthy.