To start this review, I'm not sure why Edmunds doesn't have an option for the single cab XLT 2.3L Automatic, because that's what I drive.
Anyways, I bought this truck brand new in 2004 from Town and Country Ford in Madison, TN. Aside from a transmission recall before I hit 1,000 miles and an Oxygen sensor going back, this truck hasn't given me ANY issues since I've bought it whatsoever in the past 8 years.
The truck doesn't drive smooth like a Cadillac but it's a truck and it's not meant to. The 2.3L Duratec engine (found in Rangers from 02-11) are literally bulletproof and will last 200-300-400,000 miles easy with regular maintenance. Ford screwed up discontinuing this truck.
Easy to work on, Parts are easy to find as there are hundreds of thousands of them on the road. Gas mileage is great for a truck and the Ranger can handle just about anything you throw at it. (Just don't try to tow a house or something with it.)
I wish Ford would have made an American crew cab for the Ranger, updated the look, and put a v8 in it.
I selected my 4 cylinder stickshift Ranger to serve as a daily driver, as a vehicle to drive on my 100 mile daily, 5 days per week school commute, and to be able to hold its own at Home Depot, Lowe's and Menard's. The handling, ride, and highway gas mileage is almost unbelievable! I've often seen 30+ MPG, and one week it actually delivered 35 MPG. The seats are surprisingly supportive and quite comfy for a small truck. I cross-shopped Chevy, GMC, and Toyota, but the Ranger beat them all for interior comfort, durability, fuel efficiency, reliability, appearance, and especially, price.
The Flareside bed looks sporty, the manual transmission and the Duratec 4 cylinder deliver phenomenal performance and gas mileage, and the standard cloth 60/40 bench seat is surprisingly comfortable. With my added hard tonneau cover on the bed, it looks like a sporty little coupé.
A little more room, maybe 3 or 4 inches, behind the seats in the standard cab would be nice; I'd like to be able to recline the seat a bit more and store a toolbox, but I still want to be able to reach back over my shoulder and open or close the sliding back window, so the SuperCab won't suffice.
This is my second Ranger in 6 years.
From day two the truck had an
electrical short in the wiper motor
that made it impossible to turn the
wipers off once activated. The
dealership replaced the wiper motor
w/in a few hours and now everything
works perfectly. The 2.3L engine is
more than powerful enough w/the manual
transmission for daily driving. If you
plan on using the truck to tow, I
suggest the 3.0L or 4.0L.
Power windows, locks, and mirrors.
Remote keyless entry and cruise control.
More open storage space for small items
like cell phones & chargers. A full
center console that goes from the dash
and up between the driver and passenger
seats would be great.
I recently purchased a 2004 Ford ranger
XLT 2.3 16v with a 5 speed manual. The
truck drives fine but the only thing
lacking again is horse power. The
vehicle has 143 horse power but feels
as though it has 115 horse power.