The infamous Ford F-150 is an incredibly capable truck, arguably more capable than most people need. That’s where little brother Ranger steps in. It presents a smaller, more maneuverable platform for those space-conscious individuals who still want a truck.
Out of Spec Score: 72/100
The Ranger takes obvious cues from the F-150, but makes things just a bit smaller. I should note that this specific score is specific to the Ranger Tremor. The standard Ranger is fine, but the Tremor really adds just a bit in terms of ruggedness and overall proportions look excellent. The standard Ranger looks just a bit awkward to me, maybe too tall for its width and length. But the Tremor has the larger tires with what appear to be a more aggressive offset on the wheels. I know trucks are practical at heart, but it’s definitely a good look to add the off-road character to the overall ambiance. It’s an excellent shell, aggressive, exciting, and that Rapid Red is stunning with all the black accents. 8 out of 10 in the styling department.
The interior is simple, almost to a fault, but it also matches the Tremor package ethos. It’s rugged, full of tough plastics and also nice ebony leather seats. It was hard to score the interior. In an age where materials are such a focus and large screens overrun the cabin, the Ranger gets back to basics. I respect it, I really do, but seeing Ford’s larger displays in their other vehicles made me miss it. But on the other hand, this is possibly the only interior I’ve seen this year without a single piece of piano gloss black. And that’s proof of the rugged intentions.
I think what caught me off guard was the LARIAT badging, being a top of the line Ranger, but then having a mixed bag in the interior. The seats were incredible, but most touch-points were the tough matte black plastic. But again, that’s arguably the point of the Tremor package. It’s almost as though Lariat and Tremor are somewhat in conflict, but I do like the combination nonetheless. 6 out of 10, at least it’s easy to clean.
This surprised me. Sure, it was no Raptor like its fiery uncle, but the turbo 4 cylinder certainly held its own, more than I expected. I kept expecting to be let down when I hit the accelerator, but it kept pulling me wherever I needed to go. If there was a larger power plant, I would opt for it, especially in towing scenarios. But the 2.3L EcoBoost is adequate and pairs to the sturdy 10-speed automatic transmission. Power figures will show 270 hp with 310 lb-ft of torque, certainly adequate for most scenarios. There is an option to have Ford Performance up the factory tune to give 320 hp for less than $1,000 but as-is, I was fairly happy. 7 out of 10 in performance, a bit higher than I would have expected when I heard about the power plant.
To a point, it’s hard to find a truck with a low practicality score. The bed of the Ranger is a very usable 5 feet in length, plus the super crew cab provides decent seating for 5. There is a good amount of in-cab storage as well, and it would have been a higher practicality score if it weren’t for the fuel economy. Essentially, the Tremor package takes a hit. The added weight, A/T tires, and slightly worse aerodynamics from it’s stance brings the original mid-20s down to 19 city, 19 highway. Still, for a truck, it’s acceptable. But I can’t go as far as to call it practical. 7 out of 10, all things considered, and most likely enough practicality for most people.
Again, the Tremor package denotes a rugged and off-road appearance and approach to “trucking”. That being said, it’s a very comfortable truck in which to partake in those lifestyle hobbies. The aforementioned rugged interior materials are indeed functional, but the seats and steering wheel, AKA the most important touch-points, feel premium and comfortable. Even the passenger seat has full electronic controls. The rear seats are also well-executed, though notably not quite as much room as the larger F-150 rear cabin. Ride comfort was also excellent, giving appropriately smooth dynamics on the highway, despite the off-road ready suspension components. 8 out of 10 for comfort.
Though it’s a decent score, comparing it to the F-150 or other upper level Ford products, it feels a bit disappointing. The screen is a respectable 8”, but pales in comparison with the 13” featuring SYNC 4.0 in the F-150 Lariat. The driver’s gauges are also leaning toward basic and functional rather than customizable and technologically focused. They seem comparable to most Ford interiors from 5-10 years ago. You will find CarPlay as standard, but not wirelessly. A frustrating component of the technology interface was the necessity of the climate control screen. The climate control buttons don’t actually have dedicated buttons to move air flow from head to feet or both, so you have to close CarPlay, locate the climate control screen and make the adjustments, then close out of that and enter CarPlay again. The technology is not bad fundamentally, but there are a few annoyances that would be hard to live with. There is a great sound system option, however, by Bang & Olufsen. It’s potentially a saving grace, but it’s hard for me to give more than an overall 6 out of 10 in tech.
Connected Services 8/10
Ford has been fairly prominent in offerings for connected services, and the Ranger gets a fair amount. Again, you unfortunately won’t find the newest SYNC 4, but it does come with SYNC 3 and all the included goodies. This includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and connection with the FordPass app on your phone. This gives the ability to remotely lock/unlock and start/stop the engine. The Ranger does not feature wireless CarPlay, but it’s hard to beat the reliable connection via cable. Ford also has their partnership with Amazon Alexa, giving plenty of handsfree opportunity for conversation or even accomplishing tasks. You’ll also find 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, for a fee of course. A respectable 8 out of 10 in connected services.
Active Safety 7/10
Ford gives the Ranger the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies, which includes BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic alert for both truck and trailer. There is also lane-keep assist, pre-collision assist, and automatic emergency braking and auto high-beam headlamps. The adaptive cruise control also works fairly well, though not quite as good as some other smaller, more nimble vehicles. I found myself keeping the lane-keep assist off, only using the radar cruise control to control speed. A decent 7 out of 10 for Active Safety.
There are cheaper trucks in the market, but the average truck price has now surpassed $50K, and this holds its own as being relatively above-average for the value proposition. I felt nearly as happy as I would in a much more expensive F-150, and with a price of $48,000, I felt this was a decent value. It certainly looks the part, aside from some of the extensive plastic in the interior. But fundamentally, the Ranger Tremor provides more than enough for most people. Though if you’re expecting an interior to wow you, you might walk. 7 out of 10.
Editors Influence 8/10
I have an obvious love for tech and forward-thinking innovations, but I also highly value the simplicity. Perhaps a sedan would disappoint me more, but a truck leaning into the rugged nature, not giving you more than you arguably need, leaves me smiling. I grew to appreciate the sturdy plastic components in the interior, recognizing their value in ease-of-cleaning, and it seemed sturdy. Though there were some creaks and noises here and there, so I can’t speak to the build quality or true fit and finish long-term. Despite the lower technology score, I think this would be a vehicle I would love on the weekends, in the mountains, and if I ignore the tech altogether, I’ll have an absolute riot of a good time. It’s a solid 8 out of 10, I enjoy it.