2021 Ford Ranger

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
September 22, 2020

Buying tip

There’s not much incentive to step up to a Lariat over an XLT. The interior materials don’t get appreciably better with the increased cost.

features & specs

LARIAT 2WD SuperCab 6' Box
LARIAT 2WD SuperCrew 5' Box
LARIAT 4WD SuperCab 6' Box
MPG
21 city / 26 hwy
MPG
21 city / 26 hwy
MPG
20 city / 24 hwy
MSRP
$32,910
MSRP
$35,085
MSRP
$36,610

The 2021 Ford Ranger ventures further off the pavement this year with oversized off-road packages for the mid-size truck.

What kind of truck is the 2021 Ford Ranger? What does it compare to?

Mid-size pickups like the 2021 Ford Ranger are Swiss Army vehicles—minus the bottle opener and toothpick. They’re right-sized for city streets but offer an open bed and quickly fill our social calendars with friends needing help to move. The Ranger competes against the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, and Nissan Frontier.

Is the 2021 Ford Ranger a good truck?

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Our 5.2 TCC Rating is only slightly better than average for a new car. The Ranger’s base version skips a few convenience features, and safety scores drag it down. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Ford Ranger?

A Tremor off-road package filtered down from the Super Duty into the 2021 Ranger for even more off-road prowess, but Ford kept this year’s truck relatively untouched. Hardly a seismic shift. (See what we did there?)

The Ranger is still powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-4 that makes 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque shipped through a 10-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, although four-wheel drive is equipped on many trucks. The combination can tow up to 7,500 pounds when properly equipped, and tackle just about any terrain we’ve thrown at it.

Ford sells the Ranger in extended- and crew-cab versions with a 6-foot or 5-foot bed at the back, respectively. Crew-cab versions are more popular, and for good reasons—it’s the most comfortable for more than two and the most practical.

How much does the 2021 Ford Ranger cost?

The Ranger is available in XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels starting at about $25,000, but don’t stay there for long. The XLT we recommend with a crew cab and four-wheel drive creeps perilously close to $40,000, and a top Lariat with everything including the Tremor package can crest $45,000.

Ford hits a low price in the XL by offering just a few creature comforts; the 4.2-inch infotainment screen is puny, the seats aren’t exceptionally comfortable, and the interior materials aren’t up to par with the class. At least automatic emergency braking is included.

Where is the Ford Ranger made?

All Ford Ranger pickups are made in Wayne, Michigan.

6

2021 Ford Ranger

Styling

The Ranger scouts all the right shapes for a small pickup.

Is the Ford Ranger a good-looking car?

An open bed in the back always captures our imagination and admiration.

The Ranger’s a 6 for style based on its exterior; the inside is fine, but also plain.

Ford assimilated the Ranger into its pickup lineup with a wide grille and big “RANGER” moniker branded into the nose, but the rest of the truck walks alone.

The Ranger skips the slab sides of the F-150 and Super Duty trucks with just a few simple curves. The Ranger visually rises toward the tail end, where the others flatline like a Kansas horizon. There are small flourishes to gather: stamps in the hood, a few creases around the wheel arches, and a brand in the back.

Inside, Ford plays it safer—and straighter. The cabin is straightforward, like a truck should be, but it all feels a half-step behind the rest of their interiors. The same goes for the Lariat models, which don’t look up to its considerable price.

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5

2021 Ford Ranger

Performance

Turbo-4 power and a 10-speed are just fine in the Ranger; the ride is another story.

Pearl-clutching pickup purists take a breath: the 2021 Ranger’s turbo-4 and 10-speed are up to tackling traditional truck stuff. Unfortunately, the ride reminds us of too much truck stuff, too. It’s a 5 for performance on our scale.

Is the Ford Ranger 4WD?

Sure is. Every Ranger is available with a part-time four-wheel-drive system not meant for dry pavement. In addition to four-wheel drive, the FX4 package adds an electronically controlled rear differential that can split torque across the rear axle for better traction. (The FX2 package adds the same for rear-drive pickups).

How fast is the Ford Ranger?

The 2.3-liter turbo-4 spins out 270 hp and 310 lb-ft, which is pushed down the driveline to a 10-speed automatic that powers the rear or all four wheels. Speed isn’t the Ranger’s priority, but the combination accelerates up to 60 mph in about seven seconds.

When properly equipped, the Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds and lug 1,860 pounds in the bed.

Like many full-sizers, the Ranger rides on a ladder frame with an independent suspension in front and solid rear axle in the back. The ride is bouncier than it needs to be, and on tall tires, the Ranger’s nosedive is pronounced while braking.

It’s capable off-road though, and Ford offers several factory-installed packages—or dealer-installed packages—to complement the Ranger’s hardware. The news this year is a Ranger Tremor off-road package that adds a lift, Fox shocks, and chunky tires. We haven’t yet driven this version but will report back once we do.

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2021 Ford Ranger

Comfort & Quality

Crew cabs are ready for up to four, but the Ranger falls in material quality.

Mid-size pickups, including the Ford Ranger, are asked to do a lot. They’re workaday pickups, commuter cars, and adventure machines.

The Ranger fits all the bills and more—although there may be better vehicles for individual tasks.

We give the Ranger a 6 for comfort based on its open bed in the back. The most common Rangers will be four-door crew cabs that are spacious for four, provided no one is in the 80th percentile or higher for height, weight, or both. An extended-cab model is available, but those are best left for one or two people only in the front seats—regular rear-seat riders should probably have fur and tails.

We’d call “shotgun” or take the keys anyway. The front seats in XLT and Lariat models are height-adjustable for tall torsos, and outward vision is better from the front.

The rear seats in crew-cab models offer enough leg room for small- to medium-size adults—just barely. Four-door crew cab models provide 34.5 inches of leg room, about as much as a small sedan. Extended-cab models offer only 30.4 inches of rear-seat leg room, about as much as Spirit airlines.

Crew cab trucks get a 5-foot bed, and extended-cab models get a 6-foot bed.

Inside, the truck gets sub-par materials that don’t feel up to snuff for the price. The Ranger Lariat works hard to convince us otherwise, but we wished Ford spent more time inside.

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4

2021 Ford Ranger

Safety

The Ranger has mixed crash-test scores.

How safe is the Ford Ranger?

Crash-test scores haven’t been entirely kind to the Ranger. Federal testers gave it a four-star overall score and rated its rollover safety at three stars, which is low. The IIHS wasn’t as pessimistic and gave the Ranger mostly top “Good” scores on all its crash tests but noted that small overlap crash protection was only “Average” on the passenger side. The good news? All Rangers include automatic emergency braking. It’s a 4 for safety.

The IIHS rated the standard automatic emergency braking system as “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes at 12 mph and 25 mph.

Outward vision in the Ranger is OK, but blind-spot monitors included on XLT and Lariat models help.

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2021 Ford Ranger

Features

The Ranger XL is ready for work, but the rest of the lineup is ready to play.

The Ford Ranger skimps on base models, but a bevy of options floats its feature score up to 6.

Which Ford Ranger should I buy?

The 2021 Ranger is available in XL, XLT, and Lariat trims, with a handful of packages peppered between them. The Ranger XL is your pool guy’s next work truck for about $25,000 to start, and it gets a 4.2-inch display for audio, Bluetooth, one USB port, steel wheels, and automatic emergency braking.

We recommend the XLT, which gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, two USB ports, keyless start, dual-zone climate control, and 17-inch alloy wheels. More options are available on the XLT, including the new off-road Tremor package and other appearance options. The XLT costs more than $30,000, but a four-door crew cab model with four-wheel drive that we’d recommend runs the tab up to nearly $40,000.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Ford Ranger?

The Ranger Lariat tips the scales at more than $45,000 with all options added. Those models offer navigation, premium audio, and leather upholstery as standard. Opting for a Tremor off-road package pushes the price up further from there. For that much, a full-size pickup is easily in range—and not a bad one at that.

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2021 Ford Ranger

Fuel Economy

The Ranger isn’t much more fuel-efficient than full-size trucks.

Is the Ford Ranger good on gas?

For a truck, the Ranger gets good gas mileage. For a car? Not so much.

The Ranger’s turbo-4 and 10-speed combo netted EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 24 highway, 22 combined with four-wheel drive. Dropping down to rear-wheel drive improves those ratings to 21/26/23 mpg. That's a 4 on our scale.

That’s among the tops in its class, which includes the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline, which rate slightly lower at 20-22 mpg combined.

Full-sizers like the F-150, Silverado, and Ram 1500 aren’t far behind either. V-6 versions of all three hover in the low 20s for combined fuel economy, according to the EPA.

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$24,820
MSRP based on XL 2WD SuperCab 6' Box
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5.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 4
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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