2008 Ford Ranger

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

Buying tip

The 2008 Ford Ranger has been available for more than a decade, and deals are widespread. The off-road versions will command a price closer to sticker, but the more pedestrian versions are frequently discounted. The 207-horsepower V-6 is much easier to live with than the rough 3.0-liter V-6, and the SuperCab models will give you some useful storage behind the front seats. Ford is expected to replace the Ranger with an “F-100” pickup derived from the larger F-Series range for the 2011 model year.

features & specs

2WD 2-Door SuperCab 126" Sport
2WD 2-Door SuperCab 126" XL
2WD 2-Door SuperCab 126" XLT
16 city / 22 hwy
21 city / 26 hwy
21 city / 26 hwy

The 2008 Ford Ranger’s best, highest use is as an inexpensive work truck or off-road play toy. Anything else exposes the flaws in its seating, its fuel economy, its available features and in its performance.

The car and truck experts at TheCarConnection.com researched the Web for stories on the 2008 Ford Ranger to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s resident enthusiasts also drove the 2008 Ford Ranger and have added driving impressions and details to help you make the best decision for your new car.

The 2008 Ford Ranger has made a virtue out of being the oldest vehicle in its class. It's been refined since it was introduced on its current chassis in the early 1990s, and its powertrain has been updated, but it has not been completely redesigned.

The 2008 Ford Ranger is still available in four- and six-cylinder forms, in rear- or four-wheel drive. (It's also nearly identical to the Mazda B-Series.) Two-door Regular Cab and four-door SuperCab configurations are offered. The latter version has two small access doors for cargo stowage; no true four-door is on the list. The Ranger's basic profile has remained the same for more than a decade, but periodic updates give it a new front end, and it's actually aged better than some compact trucks. The Ranger's interior has better materials than many compact trucks.

Trim levels include the XL, XLT, Sport, and an FX4 Off-Road model, which gets standard Rancho shocks, a Class III trailer package, skid plates, sport bucket seats, and an available Torsen limited-slip differential. The Ford Ranger can be an entertaining off-road vehicle, if that's the purpose you have in mind. Its six-foot bed is useful for some weekend and professional uses, but the ubiquitous 4x8 sheet of plywood won't fit.
The Ranger’s front bench seats are comfortable for a few hours but sit low. The SuperCab versions have two fold-down seats that should be used in emergencies only. There’s no cargo-storage system inside, but a fold-down armrest and a decent-sized glovebox are found in the Ranger’s cabin.

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The 2008 Ford Ranger has a standard tire pressure monitoring system, and an iPod jack; options include the off-road package, a 510-watt audio system and Sirius satellite radio.

Anti-lock brakes and dual airbags are standard on all versions. No curtain or side airbags are offered, nor are stability and traction control, but the Ranger scores five and four stars for front and side impacts. Its rollover rating of three stars points out the limits of its taller, older design.


2008 Ford Ranger


The 2008 Ford Ranger has a dated style, inside and out.

The 2008 Ford Ranger has made a virtue out of being the oldest vehicle in its class. It's been refined since it was introduced on its current chassis in the early 1990s, and its powertrain has been updated, but it has not been completely redesigned—and reviewers from around the Web have hardly bothered to review it, much less comment on its style.

The 2008 Ford Ranger’s basic shape has been around since the 1990s. ConsumerGuide says the "basic design is more than a decade old and shows it," while MyRide opines that this "truck desperately needs an update." At Ford, 2008 gets the Ranger a slight update: Cars.com notes that "the Ranger's front bumper has been redesigned to cut through the air more efficiently," and "new larger fog lights improve visibility." Automedia says the look is “a tad tougher and bolder.” And in certain trim levels, the Ranger does a good job of faking tougher credentials. As Cars.com says, "The Ranger Sport conveys the assertive look and ride height of a four-wheel-drive Ranger at a lower price."

There are even fewer compliments for the 2008 Ford Ranger’s interior. Edmunds snipes: “The Ranger's interior was last overhauled during the Clinton administration -- and the first term at that. At least the Ranger's ergonomics are quite straightforward, with easy-to-use controls.” They conclude, "due to its aged design, it falls short in many other areas, making just about any other small or midsize pickup a better choice."

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2008 Ford Ranger


The 2008 Ford Ranger’s performance isn’t bad, but if you really need an economy car, buy a car instead.

With three different engine options, buyers can choose the power they need out of their 2008 Ford Ranger, but no engine—nor its handling—earns the Ranger strong notices.

With the Ranger, Ford offers three engines. The base engine makes 143 hp from a 2.3-liter four-cylinder; stronger versions use a 148-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 or a 207-hp, 4.0-liter V-6. Even with over 200 hp available, though, Car and Driver says that the "flexy chassis and tepid powerplants reduce fun-to-drive index to almost zero."

ConsumerGuide has a slightly different opinion, stating, "acceleration is adequate with the 3.0-liter V-6, but we prefer Rangers with the 4.0 for its extra power." They also believe that the ride quality is "decent for trucks," reporting that Rangers "jiggle on rough roads but absorb big bumps pretty well." It is also notable that ConsumerGuide believes 2008 Ford Rangers "handle competently, with good steering feel and directional stability." They aren't the only reviewers who feel this way. Cars.com lists "maneuverability" and "driving ease" as two of the predominant "likes" about the performance of this truck.

As with most trucks reviewed by TheCarConnection.com, there are also other options available on the Ford Ranger, including rear- or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive can be turned on even while the truck is moving, and operates by a simple switch on the Ford. Ranger pickups have up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity; ConsumerGuide calls them "proven workhorses."

TheCarConnection.com’s editors have driven many Rangers in the past, and have owned one as well. The 4.0-liter V-6 is the easiest version to live with, in terms of power and engine noise; conversely, there’s almost no reason to recommend the 3.0-liter V-6, since it’s not much more powerful than the four-cylinder and gets considerably worse fuel economy. In the Ranger, Ford’s workmanlike performance can be a virtue, and its steering is not bad, but those buyers looking for a cheap economy car would be better served with a real economy car—not a pickup priced like one.

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2008 Ford Ranger

Comfort & Quality

There’s not much room inside the 2008 Ford Ranger, but the truck itself is screwed together fairly well.

The interior of the 2008 Ford Ranger lacks the room and style that larger mid-size or small pickups offer, according to most reviewers.

In the Ranger, Ford has the only true compact truck left on the market, since the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier moved into a larger size class. The compact dimensions of the Ranger show through in reviews noted by TheCarConnection.com.

With the Ranger, Ford offers SuperCab models with two rear-hinged doors, and Regular Cab versions with very little space between the seats and the rear glass. Although ConsumerGuide says that the truck has "good headroom and legroom up front," they also state that "three adults are a tight squeeze." In addition to potential cramped riding up front, there is the issue of the backseat space. ConsumerGuide criticizes the rear seat in SuperCab Rangers as "skimpy, cramped, and thus best used for toddlers or cargo," and adds that "entry and exit borders on awkward." Edmunds concurs, claiming the truck's "inward facing jump seats are a quaint reminder of days gone by, but are terrible as a seating option."

Although there isn't a whole lot of room for many passengers in the Ranger, Ford’s compact pickup is actually a three-passenger truck, since most versions offer a front bench seat with a fold-down center armrest. Those plain seats are in truth, not bad: Edmunds finds the front seat to be "acceptable unless you're of tall stature."

It may not be roomy, but Cars.com listed "build quality" as one of its favorite things about the truck. ConsumerGuide even states, "all models we've tested have been solidly built." TheCarConnection.com also adds that in the Ranger, Ford installs better materials than are found in many compact trucks.

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2008 Ford Ranger


While the 2008 Ford Ranger doesn't have side or curtain airbags, it manages to perform reasonably well in crash tests.

The 2008 Ford Ranger lacks some essential safety gear but still provides acceptable crash test scores.

According to Edmunds, in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test ratings, the 2008 Ford Ranger "earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts." The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in contrast, gave the 2008 Ford Ranger “acceptable” and “poor” ratings for frontal and rear impacts, respectively, and a "marginal" rating for side impacts in its tougher assessments.

Anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2008 Ford Ranger, as are dual front airbags. However, the Ranger shows its advancing age in its lack of side and curtain airbags. These features take major structural changes to integrate—and since the Ranger has not been completely redesigned in a long time, TheCarConnection.com expects it may never receive these vital safety features.

The 2008 Ford Ranger does offer a tire pressure monitoring system.


2008 Ford Ranger


While the 2008 Ford Ranger is not a cutting-edge leader, it’s an affordable pickup with some good options.

Reviewers, for the most part, were impressed with the optional features offered on the 2008 Ford Ranger.

Trim levels include the XL, XLT, Sport, and an FX4 Off-Road model. All sport a six-foot bed that’s useful for some weekend and professional uses, but the ubiquitous 4x8 sheet of plywood won't fit.

Edmunds lists one of the main options as the bed size of the Ranger; Ford offers a six-foot bed “on all cab styles and trims, but a 7-foot bed is optional on the regular-cab XL and XLT." An additional option available is the 60/40 split bench seat in front or bucket seats. The standard material on the seats is cloth, but leather is available. Satellite radio is an option on all 2008 Ford Ranger pickups.

With the Off-Road edition, the 2008 Ford Ranger gets standard Rancho shocks, a Class III trailer package, skid plates and sport bucket seats, and an available Torsen limited-slip differential. In this Ranger, Ford has an entertaining off-road vehicle, if that's the purpose you have in mind.

The 2008 Ford Ranger is priced lower than most competitors. Starting at less than $17,000 for the 2008 Ford Ranger Sport regular cab, it is more affordable than most pickups. When compared to other trucks in the same class, it's no wonder Car and Driver calls it "attractively priced."

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