2020 Ford Ranger FX4 review: Gets the job done

Ford’s midsize Ranger is perfectly fine, no more, no less.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

I want to love the Ford Ranger, really. But I just can’t. That’s not to say Dearborn’s mid-sized pickup is bad. In a way, this truck looks a bit underpowered. It is not at all a EcoSporturgent work at the level, but an extra year or so of product development work could have turned what is a good vehicle into a truly great one.

Like it

  • Fast and easy Infotainment Sync 3
  • Torque-rich turbo engine
  • Throne front seats

I do not like

  • Lunatic transmission
  • Stiff but sloppy ride
  • Soft brake pedal

Fortunately for Ford, the Ranger is a midpack offering in a rather unexceptional (albeit popular) segment of products. The Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon the twins are nice, but they are getting old and are far from great. At this point in his life, the ancient, albeit soon, will be redesigned Nissan Frontier it’s basically a covered wagon that appears to have a sleek new powertrain; and the Toyota Tacoma, while durable and very popular, I never liked it, feeling both uncomfortable and uncouth. With the exception of Honda which defies convention Ridgeline and perhaps the Jeep Gladiator (which can be incredibly expensive), I’m not a huge fan of any midsize truck offered today.

Somewhere in the middle of this maelstrom of mediocrity is this Ranger. Given Ford’s long history of pickup excellence, you’d expect this product to be a big hit, but somehow it falls short.

This truck is offered with an extended cab body and a 6 foot bed, or in a larger double cab configuration with a 5 foot cargo bed. Three trim levels are available: low XL, mid-range XLT and top-of-the-range Lariat. Rear or all-wheel drive can be achieved with any combination of bodywork and trim.

My tester is an XLT double cab model with four-wheel drive and the FX4 package. This rough $ 1,295 option group gives you monotube shocks, off-road tires and a lockable rear differential, plus some additional skid plates. Finished with a $ 395 Rapid Red Metallic paint job, it’s a nice looking somewhat generic-looking truck.

When properly equipped, the Ranger’s maximum towing rating is 7,500lbs across the board, while its payload capacity exceeds 1,860lbs. These scores are better than most rivals offer – the Jeep Gladiator and diesel versions of the Colorado and Canyon can tow a little more, up to 7,700 pounds in the case of those GM twins, but none of the major rivals of Ford can get over drag it.

Ability is one of the Ranger’s strengths, but this is undermined by some unusual choices. For example, push button start is only available on Lariat models. Other trims come with an old-fashioned key that plugs into the ignition and turns. The available SecuriCode keyboard, a Blue Oval staple for decades, feels like a complete afterthought, attached to the driver’s side door. Even basic things like the old cruise control and electrically adjustable side mirrors are optional on the XL model.

Inside, the cabin of this truck is functional, built with good quality hard plastics. The internal storage space is, however, somewhat limited. There is a small basket under the center armrest, another slot in front of the gearbox and a tray on top of the dashboard. A mechanical handbrake eats up space on the center console that could have been used for something else; ditto for a row of buttons that control things like tow / haul mode and traction control. A rotating dial that runs the four-wheel drive system and an unusually lanky gear selector occupy even more valuable real estate in this area.

My truck’s front bucket seats are covered in sturdy fabric and are supportive in all the right places with just a hint of softness for long-range comfort. The cockpit body has a decent-sized rear seat, with a good amount of legroom, albeit not great. Improving versatility, the bottom cushion also lifts, revealing a couple of storage compartments and opening the rear seat to hold larger loads if needed

The Ranger seats are comfortable and its technology is friendly.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Paired with an 8-inch touchscreen, Ford’s Sync infotainment system 3 it is standard on XLT and Lariat models. It responds quickly to inputs and is very easy to use. This and that of FCA Uconnect system are two of my favorite multimedia offerings available today due to their simplicity and speed.

Of course, Sync 3 includes things like Apple CarPlay And Android Auto. Navigation can also be obtained as part of a $ 995 tech package that bundles other features like adaptive cruise control and a forward sensing system, useful for parking because it lets you know how close you are to obstacles in front of the truck. Fortunately, this infotainment offering also includes redundant on-screen climate controls, much easier to use than this truck’s physical climate control switches, which are too low, flat, and evenly colored to operate without causing distractions.

Keeping everyone’s mobile devices fully active, my Ranger XLT-trim has two USB ports in the front and another pair that serves rear seat passengers. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not available.

Ford CoPilot-360 is also standard on the XLT and Lariat trim levels, but is offered as an option on the entry-level model for an additional $ 625 in addition to the $ 1,135 101A package. This suite of driving aids includes lane keeping assistance, automatic high beams, and even blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic warning that covers both the truck and any trailer you may be towing.

Ranger looks cute from almost every angle, especially in the sturdy FX4 trim.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Most of that technology works well, as does the Ranger’s available adaptive cruise control. It is easy to accelerate and decelerate, keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

The 2.3 liter Ranger EcoBoost the four-cylinder engine is smoother than rival trucks’ V6s and much more responsive. With the exception of its large mechanically driven cooling fan, which makes quite a ruckus at startup, it’s also fairly quiet. The fuel-saving stop / start system is seamless, restarting the engine without jolts or jolts, often before the foot is fully off the brake pedal. It works so well that I don’t want to disable it.

One thing I love is the torque curve of this powertrain, which is exactly like most Americans: thick in the middle. Ford’s force-fueled four-pot is strongest from 2,500 rpm to around five thousand dollars, exactly where you want loads of grunt in a truck. The record performances are confirmed by the numbers. This engine delivers 270 horsepower, which is, in some cases, quite a bit less than the V6-powered competitors they wield – for example, the Frontier has 40 more ponies – but the Ranger offers significantly more torque, 310 lb-ft. in total . In reality, only the diesel versions of the Colorado and Canyon feature more twist.

Underneath all those pipes and plastic is a turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The other half of the Ranger powerplant is a 10-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, in this application he can be very moody. Sometimes the gear changes are perfectly smooth, other times they are lumpier than a sack of potatoes. In fact, for about the first 40 miles I drove this truck, the quality of the transmission shift was terrible. He winced, heaved and was incredibly incoherent at any moment. After that distance, things quieted down considerably and the transmission performance became livable, if not quite perfect. I wonder if anyone disconnected the battery or if the truck had a software update and was relearning its adaptive shifting strategy, where the shifting adjusts its performance after learning how to drive a certain person.

In mixed driving and without much effort, I average 21.9 miles per gallon in my Ranger test, a figure that is over this truck’s combined fuel economy rating of 22 mpg like splashing on ice cream. In city driving it is rated at 20mpg and on the highway you should expect 24mpg.

The Ranger powertrain is definitely a mixed bag, but the rest of its road manners aren’t. At least with the FX4 upgrades, this truck is a driving disappointment. Somehow, the ride is both too soft and hard at the same time. Expansion joints and small road imperfections feel crisp, conveyed in high fidelity, however, paradoxically, the larger inputs cause the body to move almost nautically.

Ford’s latest Ranger pickup is solid, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The brake pedal is ridiculously soft, with what feels like 6 inches of travel before the pads start locking onto the rotors. It’s a bit like stepping on a wet sponge. Of course, this doesn’t inspire confidence, especially if you’re towing near or on the edge.

As for the steering, it’s reasonably fast and has quite a bit of weight, but it’s bigger in some situations F-150 drives like a smaller vehicle. It could be argued that Ford’s full-size truck is the Ranger’s strongest competitor.

The F-150 it is a larger, more comfortable and capable rig that can be just as efficient and not necessarily much more expensive. My Ranger review unit costs around $ 42,805, a sum that only includes $ 7,000 in options and $ 1,195 in destination fees. You can take a double cabin, four wheel drive F-150 with an optional EcoBoost V6 for about that much, which makes the Ranger a tough sell. As it stands, this is a good midsize truck, but, unfortunately, it falls short of the size.