I am on my second Ranger now. 2003 Ford Ranger Edge 4.0L V6 manual. my old one was a 2003 Ford Ranger XLT Automatic with a 3.0L V6. Neither of them have ever have any problems.
I would recommend a Ranger to anyone unsure of what small size pick up they should get. Alot of room in the cab, a good bit of room in the bed.
Engine and Tranny on these trucks will last forever. I know some to get over 600K miles.
I will always drive my Ranger anywhere and trust it to go wherever I want it to. Completely worth the money. Maintain these trucks and drive them for many many years to come, without ever taking them to the shop.
The outside design on the trucks is just fun to look at. 6 disk CD changer makes it easy to change CD's without every looking off the road. You can load a decent amount in the bed of the truck, and it won't even strain going up steep hills or mountains.
The inside design hasen't changed at all from 1996 to 2005. In 2006 to 2011, the only thing changed was the steering wheel and speedometer. If they ever start making them in the US again, I hope that changes. Still a good design overall.