2001 Ford Ranger Review

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Bob Storck Bob Storck Editor
July 24, 2000

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. — A long time ago the Nevadans discovered that only a few could get rich from the ore in the ground, but lots could make money from the resulting boom. Maybe those saloons, provisioning shops and mule wranglers were not rolling in instant money, but the customers kept coming back and back.

In these automotive boom days, a lot of products are aimed at getting the quick buck and high profits. But customers are often fickle, jumping from car to truck to whatever, depending on what is hot at the time. The steady market is gained by starting at the bottom of the cycle, by building a good reputation and creating repeat buyers.

That’s where Ranger comes in. The 2001 Ford Ranger is designed to offer customers more choices within the entry-level pickup market, and it capitalizes on years of strong Ranger sales and the big halo produced by Ford’s other hot-selling truck entries.

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Physically, it’s easy to see how the new Ranger refers to older versions and to the newer, larger Ford trucks. It’s picked up design elements from the top selling F-Series pickups in this redesign, the first major one since 1998. Just like in the big trucks, the different Ranger models have individual grille treatments, but with a strong family resemblance. The gently curved cabin and bumper treatments are distinctly Ford.

With the subtle muscular cues provided by the raised hood, the promise of power is not an empty one. That hood covers three engine choices: a new 4.0 liter SOHC V-6 shared with the Explorer, with 29 percent more horses than the previous model; a workhorse 3.0-liter OHV V-6 with 150 hp, and the old standby in-line four engine, a 2.5-liter powerplant with 119 horses. Later this winter, an all-new in-line four engine from Ford’s Mazda subsidiary will arrive, and next year holds the possibility for an all-new in-line five.

A cornucopia of choice

With three trim levels, three cab/wheelbase choices, a choice of the traditional Styleside or a more distinct Flareside box, rear- or four-wheel-drive, and several payload capabilities, it’s easy to see why Ranger has captured almost a third of the small pickup market. Ford will let you select many of those items from a broad option sheet — more varied than that of the competition.

Preview: 2001 Ford Ranger interior

Preview: 2001 Ford Ranger interior

The Ranger’s softer, more sophisticated look didn’t come from Sears – it came from Ford’s own Explorer.

Young buyers often "customize" their trucks by buying a base model and adding accessories. With the new version of the Ranger, it’s a little easier to pick and choose the right truck from the outset, instead of modifying it later. Most of the features of the former Splash model (which was aimed directly at aftermarket buyers) are available in the new Edge model, including a raised suspension for that tough off-road look, even in the 4x2 versions.

The Edge version complements the base XL and the popular XLT versions, and comes with a monochromatic exterior, available in red, white, blue, black or chrome yellow.
It’s equipped with air conditioning, a four-speaker CD system with Dolby, AM/FM stereo and 60 watts of power, custom wheels and tires, tow hooks, fog lamps and a mesh-type grille. It also comes with the 3.0-liter V-6 engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission.

Many youngsters’ idea of automotive power comes through the speakers rather than the exhaust, and for them Ranger offers the Tremor. Its 560-watt sound system was designed to exacting standards of young program management team member Anthony Davis, who enters his own customized Contour SVT in International Auto Sound Challenge Association competitions. If you have to ask, this option is not for you. Talk nice to your dealer, and he may include earplugs for the less youthful family members.

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Tremor’s designed-in subwoofer enclosure fits in the rear floor area and has been tuned to deliver tonal accuracy and imaging over a wide audio spectrum, from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Storage bins replace the normal jump seats. It includes an in-dash Pioneer CD, cassette and AM/FM stereo with selectable audio profiles and an upgradeable Double-DIN head unit and 13-band graphic display.

For the more comfort minded, the 2001 Ranger also has a quieter cabin, thanks to insulation improvements made to isolate noise vibration and harshness. (If we’re lucky it keeps sound in as well.)

Preview: 2001 Ford Ranger Edge

Preview: 2001 Ford Ranger Edge

The Edge offers a lot of outdoorsy features – including an extendable, butch-looking bed – for the truly nutso home-improvement crowd.

The Ranger's suspension has been revised to provide a refined ride and more sure-footed handling. Stopping also is improved through the use of a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). This latter change to the braking system optimizes braking performance with the vehicle loaded or empty.

Standard features on all Rangers include driver and passenger air bags, power steering, anti-lock brakes, a floor console, four tie-down hooks in bed, mud flaps and speed-sensitive wipers. Moving up to the XLT gives you chrome or silver wheels and a whole host of convenience features. The off-road package gives you five spoke, 16-inch aluminum wheels, P245/75R-16 outline white letter all-terrain tires, skid plates and a 4x4 Off-Road decal package.

There are some wonderful features to help make the business of pickups easier. A lockable tailgate is available, and the handle has been designed for easy grasp and pull operation. All Styleside beds come with box edge rail protection, and a flip-over Bed Extender is available for only $195. Another new feature is a hard tonneau on the six-foot Styleside that folds in the middle with a lockable space up forward and struts to keep the cover open when loading.

Ranger will continue to be offered as an Electric Vehicle (EV) to customers in California. The EV Ranger will feature carryover styling and be equipped with advanced nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

2001 Ford Ranger

Base Price: $11,840

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