Tested: 2023 Ford Ranger XLT

Ford has virtually owned the North American pickup truck market for half a century.

In a rare departure from setting or at least staying with pickup trends, it failed to recognize the mid-size segment as it grew during the last half of the 2010 – 2020 period.

 

Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota welcomed Ford’s decision to discontinue its immensely popular Ranger pickup after the 2012 model year.

They were quite happy to pick up the slack create by the departure of the best-seller in the class. Relenting to pressure from this competition, Ford reached out to its global product partners. In 2019, it resurrected the Ranger nameplate and attached it to a pickup developed in Australia on the global T6 platform and sold in many markets outside North America.

 

2023 Ford Ranger XLT
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

The North American version of that new smaller pickup was much larger than the previous Ranger.

It shared most of its components with the global version but the frame, designed for U.S. crash tests and payload requirements, was all-new. A second generation of that T6-base was introduced for 2022.

Ford introduced the smaller Maverick pickup last year, based on the front-drive platform used for the Ford Escape crossover and the new Bronco Sport.

The 2023 Ranger that we tested is the last of that generation, a completely new version is coming for the 2024 model year.

 

 

The 2023 Ranger rolls off the Michigan assembly line in extended (SuperCab) and crew cab (SuperCrew) configurations.

All models sold in Canada come with a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. There are four trim levels with base prices spanning the $36,300 – $46,800 range.

The test unit was the four-door SuperCrew version with five-passenger capacity and a five-foot cargo bed. It was rated for up to 1,560 pounds in the bed or a useful 7,500 pounds hitched behind.

The ride is a little brittle over uneven surfaces, likely due to the stiffer suspension of the optional Offroad FX4 package included in the tester.

 

2023 Ford Ranger XLT
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

The 2023 Ford Ranger is quick off-the-line, getting a leg up on the competition

The silky-smooth and healthy output of that turbocharged engine – 270-horsepower and 310-lb.ft. of torque on regular fuel – give the relatively light Ranger a leg up on the competition performance-wise.

Fuel economy is nothing to write home about, but it was quick off-the-line and handled hills and passing with complete ease.

 

2023 Ford Ranger XLT
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

Dated design inside so we are looking forward to the 2024 version

Otherwise, the 2023 Ranger is getting a little long in the tooth, especially inside. The design is dated, there is little provision for storing small items and an unusual amount of hard plastic surfaces.

The front seats are supportive and easy to access through wide-opening doors. Access to the rear seats is relatively easy but the seat backs are pretty upright. Visibility to the rear is reduced by the tall sides of the bed.

Anticipating the arrival of a new 2024 model, there have been no changes for the 2023 version.

Full-size pickups may dominate the market. But mid-sizers like the Ranger are a better choice for many, thanks to its smaller size, its ability to carry five people and a reasonable load or trailer weight.

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2023 Ford Ranger SuperCrew 4X4 XLT

 

PRICE

Base: $40,840

As tested: $52,105 including freight

 

INFOTAINMENT

Satellite radio

 

SAFETY

Blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, lane keeping system, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Power mirrors, tilt & telescope steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control

 

OPTIONS

XLT Series equipment group 302A, 110-volt power outlet, remote start system, sliding rear window with electric defrost, $3,385; technology package (adaptive cruise control, Sirius XM, SYNC 3, navigation, forward sensing package) $1,000; FX4 off-road package, (off-road tuned suspension, trail control system, skid plates, electronic locking differential), $1,400; Black Appearance package (18-in black wheel, spray-in bedliner, retractable running boards), $2,495; splash guards, mud flaps front and rear, $150; trailer tow package, $600; keyless keypad, $125

 

MECHANICAL

Turbocharged 2.3 litre four-cylinder, 270-horsepower, 310-lb.ft. of torque, regular fuel; 10-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive, NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway):12.3/9.7

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 5,073-mm; wheelbase, 3,221-mm, width, 1,410-mm; weight, 1,975-kg

 

COMPETITION

Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma

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