Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A yellow 2019 Ford Ranger is shown from the side driving on an open road after leaving a CPO Ford dealer.

Thinking About an F-150? Here’s Why a Ranger Might Be the Better Choice

When you think of Ford trucks, odds are you imagine an F-150. Maybe even a Super Duty or a Raptor. However, outside of America, these powerful machines are all but unheard of. Instead, it is the humble Ford Ranger that carries the torch for the blue oval. In fact, just as the F-150 is the best-selling pickup in America, the Ranger is currently the best-selling pickup in Europe. So before you head out to a CPO Ford dealer for an F-150, consider giving the Ranger a test drive as well. You might just be surprised by how much this midsize model has to offer, and for a significantly lower price as well.

While the full-size truck has a special place in the heart of American drivers, the modern midsize truck is an incredibly capable machine – especially when it is built by Ford and powered by an EcoBoost turbocharged engine. In fact, the Ranger models you will find under Ford’s Blue Advantage CPO program all come standard with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine that provides more torque and nearly as much horsepower as the standard V-6 in the latest F-150s. This allows the Ranger to tow up to 7,500 pounds and haul up to 1,860 pounds, putting it within a stone’s throw of many half-ton trucks (especially the more affordable models) when it comes to capability.

Four Years of the Ford Ranger

The first Ford Ranger arrived on the scene back in 1983 to replace the Ford Courier. However, after a successful run that lasted nearly 30 years, Ford discontinued the Ranger for the American market in 2011, but the Ranger story was far from over. While the blue oval believed American drivers were not interested in smaller trucks, a new Ranger was designed and released in overseas markets. Eventually, Ford realized its mistake and brought the Ranger back to America for the 2019 model year, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of a midsize pickup. This relatively recent return of the Ranger has the happy side effect that every model year is eligible for Ford’s CPO program, offering you further savings while still enjoying a truck with a factory warranty.

Over the past four years on the market, the Ranger has evolved, adding new features and capabilities, but every recent model year shares the same basic specs and features. Combined with the single engine option offered, this makes shopping for a Ranger particularly easy, even for newer truck owners. The only real choices you have to make are whether you want an extended cab or a crew cab and whether you need four-wheel drive. Most buyers will likely be best served by a crew cab and 4×4, but opting for the extended cab does give you a six-foot bed instead of a 5-foot bed – a handy feature if you often find yourself hauling lumber or other long objects.

The sole engine option in the modern Ranger is a good one – a 2.3L EcoBoost that provides 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque (a best-in-class figure that compares favorably to many full-size trucks). Ford’s EcoBoost turbocharger technology provides many benefits compared to a traditional V-6 engine option, including an almost diesel-like powerband that gives you maximum torque at just 3,000 rpm. However, one of the most popular benefits is its excellent fuel economy – at 23 MPG combined, the Ranger has both best-in-class efficiency as well as best-in-class torque. Being able to keep a little more money in your wallet after filling up is a great reason to consider this midsize model over the more common F-150.

A black 2019 Ford F-150 is shown from the front driving on an open road.

Can the Ranger Keep Up?

Of course, you probably expected going into this that the Ranger would be more affordable and more efficient than the F-150. The question is, are you sacrificing the capability you need by going with a midsize truck? It depends. If you are planning on pulling large campers or loading down the bed with loads of gravel, then the Ranger probably isn’t your cup of tea. Of course, if you need a truck for such strenuous activities, you should probably skip over the F-150 as well and start looking at a Super Duty model. However, if you want to handle light-duty tasks around town or haul a load of supplies when you are working on your house or lawn, then the Ranger is a worthy competitor to Ford’s full-size model.

Let’s take a look at how two popular configurations for these trucks stack up.

2019 Ford Ranger SuperCrew 4×4

  • Engine: 2.3L EcoBoost
  • Max Towing: 7,500 pounds
  • Max Payload: 1,860 pounds
  • Bed Length: 61 inches
  • Bed Volume: 43.3 cubic feet
  • Head Room: 39.8 inches / 38.3 inches
  • Leg Room: 43.1 inches / 34.5 inches

2019 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4×4

  • Engine: 2.7L EcoBoost
  • Max Towing: 7,600 pounds
  • Max Payload: 1,690 pounds
  • Bed Length: 67 inches
  • Bed Volume: 52.8 cubic feet
  • Head Room: 40.8 inches / 40.4 inches
  • Leg Room: 43.9 inches / 43.6 inches

Looking through that list, you might be surprised to discover that the F-150 offers a bare 100 pounds more towing and actually offers 170 pounds less payload. The Ranger is a truck that punches far above its weight, offering a stunning level of capability for its cost. In fact, the single largest advantage of the F-150 is that it is simply bigger – it offers a larger bed and a more spacious cabin than the Ranger. However, the differences are still not so huge that the Ranger can’t put up a good fight. It should also be remembered that the size of the F-150 isn’t always a good thing – if you have a smaller driveway or garage, or are looking for a truck to tackle narrow city streets or backwoods trails, that larger size can be just as much a handicap as an advantage.

Now, the F-150 can certainly be optioned to provide far more capability with the available 3.5L EcoBoost and 5.0L V8 engine options. Even the 2.7L EcoBoost can provide a bit more towing and payload if you manage to track down a CPO truck that was optioned with the 3.73 rear axle and the Max Payload Package. However, to get that extra capability, you will be paying a lot more. Plus, you will have to know what you are shopping for and put in the effort to track down a used truck with all the right options. That’s part of the appeal of the Ranger – it simply doesn’t have the huge array of possible configurations available for the F-150, and you don’t have to be a serious trucker to know what you are getting.

A yellow 2019 Ford Ranger is shown parked in the mountains.

Midsize Trucks Are an Underlooked Option

While going with the flow and picking up an F-150 is the obvious option when shopping for a truck, the midsize Ranger deserves a second look. While it doesn’t offer the same level of capability as a fully-optioned F-150, the truth is that it can hold its own with the more affordable entry-level F-150 configurations and does so at a much lower price. Even when shopping for CPO models, full-size trucks are expensive, and looking at a midsize model can save you thousands of dollars without giving up much when it comes to capability. Owning a Ranger is also much more manageable than taking care of a full-size truck, and your wallet will certainly thank you when it comes time to visit the gas pump and fill up. So dare to go against the flow, and take a chance to see why the Ranger has been such a hit in markets around the world.