2008 Ford Ranger Performance
The 2008 Ford Ranger trails its class with its mediocre road performance. Though it offers three engine choices, none of them receive the majority's praise, and many are disappointed that no V8 engine is offered.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the Ranger "falls behind the class leaders in horsepower and towing." Automobile Magazine has an especially critical take on performance, commenting, "The manual transmission is clunky, the engine choices are rough, and steering is over-boosted and dull."
Acceleration and Power
Under the hood, the Ranger provides three engine choices: a 2.3-liter 143-horsepower I4, a 3.0-liter 148-horsepower V6, or a top-of-the-line 4.0-liter 207-horsepower V6. The base-level I4 comes standard on the 2WD model and the mid-level V6 comes standard on 4WD models. The FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II models come only with the highest-level V6.
Kelley Blue Book finds the base engine "fine for those who use their truck to get around town and pull light-duty chores." Motor Trend continues the thought, noting it's "plenty to keep the Ranger moving with traffic, reaching 60 mph in less than 10 sec." The says it's "reasonably strong for its size." But for anyone interested in off-roading or towing, reviewers recommend moving up to one of the two V6s.
Kelley Blue Book points out that the mid-level V6 "offers only five more horses than the 2.3-liter," but adds, "you'll find it provides a significant boost in torque" -- a must for towing. Regardless, between the two V6 engines, the reviewer recommends the next level up -- the 4.0-liter, "which will add about $700 to the price of most V6 trims." Consumer Guide says the 3.0-liter is "adequate," but again prefers the higher-level 4.0-liter "for its extra power, especially at low speeds."
However, despite recommending the V6, most reviewers have more criticism than praise for the engine. Automobile Magazine finds the 207-horsepower 4.0-liter is competitive with similar compact trucks, but still complains it's "too rough and unrefined to be taken seriously. Besides, Dodge, Nissan, and Toyota offer 260, 255, and 245 hp, respectively." Four Wheeler was also left disappointed, noting the engine is "out of its league when compared to the bigger and more powerful V-8s in the test" -- a downside pointed out by several reviewers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also has complaints, calling the V6 "strong enough," but noting "the truck seems lethargic just pulling away from a stop sign. Tromp the gas pedal and it'll jump to life, but normal acceleration is nothing to get excited about."
Reviewers have little to say about the Ranger's fuel economy, which varies by engine. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates two-wheel-drive models to net 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway with the 2.3-liter base engine and manual transmission. Four-wheel-drive models net 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on highways with the 3.0-liter engine and manual transmission. For the four-wheel-drive FX4 model, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: "Gas mileage wasn't stellar. I got 16.1 miles per gallon in about a 50/50 mix of driving and with a couple of loads in that lined bed." However, IntelliChoice has a much more positive fuel outlook, listing the 2WD Ranger as a Best in Class winner for Lowest Fuel Costs.
Standard with each engine is five-speed manual overdrive transmission; a five-speed automatic with overdrive is optional. Motor Trend is pleased with the manual, commenting, "The five-speed has well-spaced ratios, a longish throw shifter that never misses, and an easily modulated light clutch." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel feels the optional automatic "shifted well, but didn't do anything to give the truck more oomph off the line."
Handling and Braking
Reviewers generally feel the Ranger rides adequately for a truck, though it's bumpy over ragged pavement. Consumer Guide finds the short/long arm independent front suspension and two-stage multi-leaf springs in the rear make for some "jiggle on rough roads," but still "absorb big bumps pretty well." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a similar opinion, noting, "There's a fair amount of truck bounce with Ranger, those off-road shocks not helping much on our crumbling city streets." But again, the reviewer finds that "on large bumps, such as railroad tracks or off-road, the shocks smooth what should be major events to minor jostles."
Reviewers' opinions on the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering are similarly mixed. Consumer Guide finds the truck "[s]table in corners with moderate body lean, nicely weighted steering, good directional stability. But as usual with pickups, bumpy corners can cause rear-end hop without a substantial load in the bed." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds steering "heavy, as in a larger pickup, but easy to control, and the compact pickup handles well with not much body lean in turns. It's easy to park too, so it's a simple vehicle to take to the grocery or mall."
Brakes are front disc/rear drum and all models come standard with four-wheel ABS. Reviewers are generally quiet regarding braking power, though those that do comment have good things to say. Motor Trend says the Ranger "outstopped the other pickups with no drama" and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel simply calls the brakes "good."
The Ranger comes standard in two-wheel-drive, but four-wheel-drive (4WD) configurations are available on any trim. A knob on the dash turns the 4WD on and off. Reviewers especially like the two off-road packages, the FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II. Edmunds says the FX4 package "really showed an advantage as compared to the regular 4WD, with greater suspension articulation, stiffer shocks for a good rebound rate and the aforementioned higher steering rate."
Four Wheeler calls the Level II, which adds special all-terrain tires and an extra skid plate, "definitely the trail king of the group. Its Bilstein shocks did an excellent job of sucking up the bumps, whether at speed or crawling along in low range. And its spring rates seemed spot-on." The reviewer also appreciates the Ranger's small stature, "which helped out on the trail, making the Ranger FX4 Level II nimble and easy to maneuver."
For hauling, the Regular Cab Ranger offers a choice of either a 6- or 7-foot bed. The Super Cab comes with a 6-foot bed and a longer wheelbase to increase cabin room. The Ranger can haul a maximum of 1,260 pounds.
When properly equipped, the 2.3-liter with manual transmission can tow up to 1,580 pounds. Automobile Magazine finds the 4.0-liter engine's towing capacity "respectable compared with those of the five-cylinder Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon." But even with the highest-level engine, the reviewer notes the Ranger "pales in comparison to the capacities offered by the other segment players."
2WD Regular Cab and Super Cab
Both Regular Cab and Super Cab models in two-wheel-drive come standard with a 2.3-liter double overhead camshaft I4 engine that puts out 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. A 3.0-liter, 148-horsepower V6 or 4.0-liter, 207-horsepower V6 is optional. All engines come standard with a five-speed manual transmission with overdrive. A five-speed automatic with overdrive is optional.
4WD Regular Cab
The four-wheel-drive Regular Cab comes standard with the mid-level engine, a 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 148 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. A 4.0-liter V6 is optional. A five-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard; a five-speed automatic with overdrive is optional.
4WD Super Cab
The four-wheel-drive Super Cab comes standard with one single engine choice -- the highest-level 4.0-liter single overhead camshaft V6, which puts out 207 horsepower and 238 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard; a five-speed automatic with overdrive is optional.