After nearly an eight-year hiatus, Ford has brought the Ranger pickup back to the U.S. market, and I have some ideas about how to outfit the ideal version. My spec isn’t overloaded with options but still offers maximum towing capacity and the ability to properly venture off-road, while all models carry the same torquey, 2.3-liter turbo four hitched to a 10-speed automatic. The Ranger starts at $25,495 for the rear-drive SuperCab XL, but for me, four-wheel drive is a must even at its substantial premium, and I need four conventional doors, which shrinks the six-foot bed to five feet. I was tempted to stop here, as the XL’s black bumpers, 16-inch steel wheels, and lack of tinted rear glass make it look like a pickup you’d see on an episode of Nature on PBS, but I’d pull the trigger on the mid-level XLT, which starts at $29,135 and requires $4,000 to add 4×4 capability and $2,175 to upgrade to the SuperCrew body style. (The top-spec Lariat starts a hefty $4,270 above the XLT.) Here are the full details of my perfect Ranger:
Wheels: The XLT includes standard aluminum wheels. The 17-inch setup has a nice six-spoke design and thankfully they’re silver—not black or some other trendy color. And I’d buy a set of the Ranger XL’s 16-inch silver steel wheels from the Ford parts counter to dedicate to winter tires.
Seats: Premium cloth seats are standard on the XLT. I’d go with Ebony (black). The other option is Medium Stone, which is too light for my grubby lifestyle.
Trim: It only comes one way: silver.
301A Package ($995): This brings a load of stuff for less than $1000: an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, power folding and adjusting side mirrors, satellite radio, automatic climate control, and Sync 3 infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
FX4 Off-Road Package ($1295): This Includes an electronic-locking rear differential, an off-road suspension, front tow hooks, skid plates, a Terrain Management System, Trail Control, and— unfortunately—RWL (raised white letter) tires. (Ford’s online configurator doesn’t add these for the photos.) I’d replace these with proper blackwall all-terrain rubber as soon as I could; flipping the tires so the white letters are on the inside isn’t good enough for this guy. Lastly, the “FX4 Off-Road” decals on the side of the bed would need to go. The off-road suspension isn’t as smooth on tarmac as the standard setup, so if ride quality is important to you, maybe skip this package and add the stand-alone locking rear diff for $420 instead.
Trailer Tow Package ($495): Includes a Class IV trailer hitch and a 4-pin/7-pin connector. Towing capacity is bumped from 3500 to 7500 pounds.
Technology Package ($795): Unfortunately, adaptive cruise control is a must if you want integrated navigation. Both are part of this package. I’d much prefer a standalone navigation option. Or, better yet, Ford should include it with the 301A package and charge a touch extra.
Etc.: Remote start is only $195. I’d also add the $495 spray-in bedliner and $135 floor liners. And the $80 engine-block heater is nice because it gets cold in Michigan. I’d have to go the aftermarket route to get a warm backside and also live with fixed-height seats due to Ford’s packaging decisions. Same story with a sliding rear window.
What to Skip
I’d really want the heated, eight-way adjustable seats and sliding rear window, but both are only available via the 302A package—an $1805 premium over 301A. But going the 302A route means being forced into the Sport Appearance Package (metallic gray wheels, bumpers, and wheel well moldings, plus a black grille with gray trim). That’s a shame.
The $795 Chrome Appearance package and $1995 Black Appearance package are equally undesirable from a visual standpoint. I don’t need the $395 Bed Utility package, and it’s not compatible with the spray-in bedliner anyway. Running boards ($635) tend to just soil your pants—especially on a truck lower than a full-sizer—and the factory Ford mud flaps ($130) aren’t my style. Ford’s keyless-entry keypad is handy and only costs $95 but the tacked-on approach used for the Ranger looks cheap and oh-so-’80s. One of the three tonneau covers ($595–$1,695) may be a good idea, but I’d revisit that down the road, possibly via the aftermarket. And you’re able to add light-truck-spec (LT) Hankook all-terrain tires to the FX4 Off-Road bundle for $175, but they’re still ugly RWLs and likely upset the ride even more due to their heavier-duty nature and weighing eight pounds more per tire versus the FX4’s standard Hankook rubber.
Total Cost: $39,795 (Ranger base price: $25,495; Ranger XLT SuperCrew base price: $33,135)