I bought this truck new in 1998 and put 150,000 miles on it over the first 5 years. Overall the truck has been quite reliable. The two problem areas have been the interior light staying on and multiple issues with the air conditioning. Other than that the vehicle has never left me stranded. In fact, I have a 4 cylinder/5 speed stick and have never even replaced any part of the drivetrain in cluding the clutch. The truck currently has over 175,000 miles and continues to run like new.
It appears that the problem I have experienced with the interior light is widespread, perhaps Ford should rectify this.
If you want a reasonably decent small truck for hauling stuff around, the Ranger is a good choice. If you want a passenger car, buy one of those instead of a truck. BTW, the 3 liter engine is plenty powerful enough.
Off road package, gas mileage, long bed, 3.0 makes plenty of power.
Gas mileage could be better, it would be nice if a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood would lie flat in the bed.
The 2.5L motor provides great gas mileage and a decent amount of power when you need it. If you keep your right foot out of the firewall you can easily achieve 25+ mpg on the highway. However if you plan on using all 120hp plan on getting less than 17 in the city. But the handling of the truck is good for a truck; you can sling the rear around if needed, or stick the front for some decent corning out of a truck.
My favorite features are the comfortable interior and I am 6ft tall. Also I am a fan of the driver feedback I get out out of the truck. I am a fairly accomplished driver and the amount of feel you get out of the wheel and body roll allow a knowledgable driver to wheel the Ranger like they stole it
I would, as any race inspired driver would, love a more powerful 4 cylinder engine. A slightly stiffer suspension might make the truck handle better. A smoother shifting tranny or one than took abuse better would also be preffered. Don't get me wrong my Ranger sees more than its fair share of abuse.
I have owed this truck for 8 years now. I have not had any major issues with the truck. My only issues with the truck are that the interior light will sometimes say on after the driver door is closed and the brakes are a little weak. Other than that, the truck has been great. I would recommend the truck to any of my friends.