What's New for 2010
The Ford Ranger gains standard stability control and side airbags for 2010, the first time these features have been offered. A Class III trailer hitch and air-conditioning are also now standard. The 7-foot bed is now only available for fleet buyers.
"First the earth cooled. Then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died. Shortly thereafter, the Ford Ranger was introduced." OK, so the last bit wasn't part of the "Airplane II" recall of "everything that's happened up until now," but Ford's compact pickup truck has been on the market so long without a major redesign that it certainly seems prehistoric. Although it has been continuously updated over the years, its small size, unimpressive engine selection and general lack of refinement are telltale signs of its Jurassic underpinnings.
For the 2010 Ford Ranger, there are minor updates once again, but with mixed results. On the upside, stability control and side airbags are finally added to the features list and are thankfully made standard. However, the 7-foot bed option is no longer available to regular, non-fleet buyers and the FX4 Off-Road Package has been discontinued. These were two of the Ranger's few appealing attributes, and items we pointed out as possible reasons for buying one. Now that they're gone, we're left scratching our heads.
The Ranger may have some appeal to small businesses that just need an inexpensive truck that's reasonably good on gas. But as an everyday vehicle, this compact Ford pickup lags far behind its competition. Its engines are weak, and even though Ford routinely touts the four-cylinder's best-in-class fuel economy, that 143-horsepower engine delivers the sort of languid acceleration best calculated with a sun dial.
Another issue is size. Today's batch of small trucks are actually quite big, especially when it comes to interior space. The Ranger is the only truck in its class (other than its Mazda B Series twin) not to offer a crew cab body style. Should you ever need to carry more people than the front seats can carry (a three-person bench or buckets), the Ranger SuperCab only provides inward-facing jump seats that are a quaint reminder of days gone by. The Ranger's cabin design is also a veritable time capsule from the 1990s.
So unless you're the owner of a small business, there's little reason to consider the 2010 Ford Ranger. All competitors are more appealing, with the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier deserving extra attention. Luckily, though, an all-new Ford Ranger will be introduced in a year or two. The Jurassic period is about to end.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Ranger is a compact pickup truck available in regular-cab and extended-cab (SuperCab) body styles. Both are available in XL, XLT and Sport trim levels. A 6-foot bed is standard on all cab styles and trims, but a 7-foot bed is optional for fleet buyers on the XL regular cab model.
The XL regular cab is sparsely equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, a trailer hitch, a 60/40 front bench seat, vinyl upholstery, air-conditioning and an AM/FM stereo. The XL SuperCab adds skid plates and cloth upholstery. The XLT adds foglamps, upgraded exterior trim, cloth upholstery (regular cab), full power accessories, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and an upgraded stereo with CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The XLT 4X4 includes 15-inch alloy wheels, heavy-duty shock absorbers and tow hooks. Ranger Sports receive upgraded wheels, a full-size spare tire, heavy-duty gas shocks (SuperCab), skid plates, sidestep bars, bucket seats and a center console.
The Payload Package #2 is available on V6 SuperCabs and adds increased rear spring rates and heavy-duty shocks. Rear tinted glass and a rear sliding window are together optional on the XLT and Sport. Remote engine start and Ford's keyless entry keypad are stand-alone options on the XLT and Sport.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Ford Ranger comes standard with a 2.3-liter inline-4 that produces 143 hp and 154 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. This engine is only available with rear-wheel drive. EPA estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with the manual and 19/24/21 with the automatic.
The optional 4.0-liter V6 yields 207 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed manual are standard, with four-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic optional separately. Fuel economy ranges from 15/21/17 with rear drive and the manual to 14/18/15 on the 4X4 with the auto.
The 2010 Ford Ranger comes standard with four-wheel antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), front side airbags and stability control. Side curtain airbags are not available.
In government crash testing, the Ranger earned four out of five stars for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, the Ranger earned an "Acceptable" rating (the second highest on a scale of four). The Ranger has not been side crash tested with its new side airbags, though the IIHS noted that the inward-facing jump seats are "not recommended for safe transport."
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ranger's interior was last overhauled during the Clinton administration -- and the first term at that. At least the Ranger's ergonomics are quite straightforward, with easy-to-use controls. Front seat comfort is acceptable unless you're of tall stature. SuperCabs can be equipped with an extra pair of access doors and small, inward-facing rear jump seats. As you'd expect, these seats are suitable only for children on short trips (or for people you don't like).
When equipped with the 4.0-liter V6, the 2010 Ford Ranger offers decent acceleration, but competitors are more potent. The base four-cylinder returns good fuel economy for a truck, but at 143 hp, achieves only three more horses than a Ford Focus. Ride and handling characteristics on pavement are tolerable, but when the Ford is driven back to back with newer offerings from Dodge, GM, Nissan and Toyota, the Ranger's age and lack of refinement show.