When I first had a week with a Ford Ranger, I was pretty excited. Ford reintroduced the Ranger in 2019 after an eight-year hiatus and I got to spend a week with one. I wasn’t a truck guy, but I reminisced about having almost bought a truck back in my early adulthood.
The Ranger is a very nice midsized pickup brought to market by the leader in such things, Ford. That week with the new Ranger was a good one and I gave it high marks.
But it was missing one small thing.
To me a pickup truck should be something that isn’t afraid to get a little dirty, or maybe a lot dirty depending. A pickup truck after all is a vehicle that does things; more than just transport people from point A to point B. At the end of the day a pickup should be able to leave the safety of the pavement every once in a while.
The 2019 Ranger I had seemed as though it could; that maybe a little bit of off roading wouldn’t be an issue.
Fast forward two years and there is another Ranger sitting in my driveway this week. Ford has made only minor changes overall, but for 2021 added the thing I felt was missing. And to me at least, it’s earth shaking, literally and figuratively.
Just like 2019, the Ranger still comes in XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels, rear- and four-wheel drive, extended-cab and full-crew body styles (SuperCab and SuperCrew, in Ford-speak). All have a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and a 10-speed transmission.
Rear-wheel drive is standard; and the standard Ranger has 8.4 inches of ground clearance while four-wheel-drive versions have 8.9 inches. Both setups offer electronically locking rear differentials, while the front diff remains open in 4x4s. A Terrain Management system has settings for grass, gravel, and snow; another for mud and ruts; and a sand setting. The system adjusts ABS, stability, and traction-control settings as well as throttle and transmission mapping. With the optional tow package, the Ranger is rated to tow up to 7500 pounds or haul 1860 pounds in its bed.
I again had the SuperCrew which is the biggest so there was plenty of room and again my tester for the week was the top-of-the-line Lariat which had LED headlights and taillights, an LED cargo lamp, power-adjustable and heated front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch center touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 interface, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
There was one big difference between the 2019 model and the 2021; new for this year is the Tremor Off-Road package. The suspension is anchored by a set of Fox 2.0 monotube shocks with external reservoirs for better cooling and a specially tuned set of front coil springs and rear leaf springs. The Tremor rides on a set of 17-inch black wheels that are wrapped in 32-inch-tall Continental General Grabber all-terrain tires. The Tremor has 9.7 inches of ground clearance. In all the package adds an extra 6.5 inches of suspension travel up front and an extra 8.1 inches of wiggle room at the rear relative to its base model.
Outside there are styling cues including a blacked-out version of the Ranger Lariat’s grille with some red accenting and Tremor decals on the rear three-quarter panels (Tremor is also stitched on to the seats). Also inside there are six auxiliary switches in the cabin that can be hooked up to accessories like exterior lights, an air compressor, or a winch.
Could all this put the Ranger on par with say a Jeep Gladiator? Probably not. But a loaded Gladiator runs near $60,000 MSRP, while the loaded Ranger with the $4,290 Tremor package maxes out at just over $47,000.
Bottom line: The Ranger was pretty good to start with. Now, with the addition of this off-road package it’s even better. If I needed a nice midsized pickup that wasn’t afraid to go off road on occasion the Ranger with the Tremor package would be the way to go.
There’s talk that Ford will introduce a high powered, even more off-road capable, Raptor edition in the US in 2023.
I can’t wait to see which Ranger will end up in my driveway two years from now.
The 2021 Ford Ranger Lariat Tremor
MSRP (as tested): $47,955
Engine: 2.3-liter I-4 EcoBoost 270-hp @ 5,500 rpm, 310 lbs.-ft. torque @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 21 city, 26 hwy, 23 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 24 mpg
Curb weight 4,660 lbs.
Towing capacity 7,500 lbs.
Pickup bed depth 20.9″
Payload 1,770 lbs.
Exterior body width 85.8″
Exterior length 210.8″
Ground clearance (min) 8.4″
Exterior height 71.1″
Front headroom 39.8
Front legroom, maximum 43.1
Front shoulder room 56.7
Front hip room 55.8
Rear headroom 38.3
Rear legroom 34.5
Rear shoulder room 56.3
Rear hip room 53.5
Passenger volume (cu. ft.) 97.6
Basic warranty (months/miles) 36/36,000
Corrosion perforation warranty (months/miles) 60/ unlimited
Powertrain warranty (months/miles) 60/60,000
Roadside assistance warranty (months/miles) 60/60,000
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