The name's the same — but a lot has changed since Ford last sold a Ranger in the United States.
For openers, the new Ranger is a midsize truck; the old Ranger (last sold in the U.S. in 2011) was a much smaller truck, a compact-sized truck.
Power and capability have been increased, too.
The new Ranger comes standard with a 270 horsepower turbocharged engine and can pull as much as 7,500 pounds, which makes it more powerful (and capable) than some full-size trucks used to be and almost all of its same-sized rivals are.
On the downside, you can't get it with less than four doors, even if you only want two. And even though it's much larger than the old Ranger, it doesn't come with a bigger bed.
As almost always, pros and cons.
What It Is
The new Ranger is a midsize truck, similar in general layout to others in this class like the Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado (and its GMC twin, the Canyon).
Like them — like all the currently available midsize pickups — there's no regular cab/long bed version available, which limits what you can put in the bed to no more than what a compact-sized truck can.
But because the Ranger has much more standard engine than its compact-sized forbear, as well as its current rivals, it can pull thousands of pounds more behind its bed.
Prices start at $24,300 for a base trim two-wheel-drive XL Supercab (two full-size front doors, two smaller rear doors) with a six-foot bed and run to $38,385 for a loaded 4WD Lariat Crew cab (four full-size doors) and five-foot bed.
The Ranger is new ... to the United States.
Ford has been selling it — just about — everywhere else for several years.
Strong standard engine means strong standard towing capacity.
Midsize cab is much roomier than the previous compact-sized cab.
The bed is much more accessible than current full-size truck beds.
What's Not So Good
No engine or transmission options.
Crew cab comes only with short (five foot) bed.
Almost as long as full-size trucks once were.
Under the Hood
Trucks usually give you a range of drivetrain options to choose from. Ford decided to make it easy for you by equipping every Ranger with the same drivetrain — a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to 270 horsepower and paired with a standard 10-speed automatic transmission.
It's the strongest standard engine in the class, which explains why the Ranger has just about the highest maximum tow rating in the class. Only one other midsize truck can pull more, the Colorado/Canyon, but only when equipped with their optionally available turbo-diesel engine. And only by 200 pounds (7,700 pounds maximum).
Regardless of trim, you can go 2WD or 4WD, the latter with a two-speed transfer case and 4WD Low range gearing.
Ground clearance ranges from the base 2WD XL's 8.4 inches to 8.9 inches for 4WD-equipped models.
On the Road
This Ranger can get to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, a feat the old Ranger with its standard no-turbo 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine could only have matched with a JATO rocket strapped to its roof.
It's also much quicker as it comes -= in standard XL trim — than its lesser-engined (as they come) rivals.
This never lacking for power is a good thing, especially since there's no fuel economy penalty to be paid. The new 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder gets better mileage than the old Ranger's optional (and less strong) 4.0-liter V-6, which posted a consumptive 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway versus the new Ranger's 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway — with 4WD.
The 2WD version of the new Ranger can pull down an even more impressive 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
At the Curb
This is a big truck.
It's 210.8 inches long overall, regardless of cab/bed configuration. The old Ranger (regular cab) was just 189 inches long overall — so not much longer overall than a typical midsize car.
The new Ranger is just as long, almost literally on the nose, as a 1990 Ford F-150, a full-size truck (back in 1990).
It was 210 inches long for the regular cab version, which you can't get in a Ranger anymore. Or any other midsize truck. Which is why this truck — and all the other trucks in the class — only comes with a short (and shorter) bed.
If you go with the Crew cab and four full-size doors, you have to accept the 5.1-foot shorter bed, which is the only way this one comes. That means that while it can carry more people and pull a lot more than the old Ranger, it can't carry as much in its bed.
It's the chief downside of these upsized trucks.
Ford offers its Co-pilot 360 suite of safety features, which includes lane-keep assist, automated emergency braking and a blind-spot monitor.
However, there is no heavy-duty/off-road equipment package similar to the ones available with the other trucks in this class.
The Bottom Line
If bigger is better — except in the bed — than the new Ranger fits the bill!
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.