Full 2011 Ford Ranger Review
What's New for 2011
There are no significant changes for the 2011 Ford Ranger.
We've all heard the fondly spoken cliché about something being "an oldie but a goodie." But sometimes an oldie is, well, just old, with little "good" to recommend it. A prime example would be the 2011 Ford Ranger.
Ford's compact pickup truck has gone more than a decade without a major redesign, which makes this truck positively geriatric when it comes to the automotive world and even dated by truck standards. While there have been updates to this fourth-generation model ? the 2010 Ranger (finally) got electronic stability control and side-impact airbags, for instance -- the Ranger doesn't measure up to the competition in several important areas.
The biggest drawback is the 2011 Ford Ranger's dated design. Because of a comparatively small size and lack of a four-door crew cab model with forward-facing rear seats, the Ranger is hard to recommend to anyone but business owners. Such buyers might appreciate the Ranger's low price and relatively decent fuel economy, but they'll still be disappointed by a lack of features. For example, the Ranger is one of only a handful of Ford vehicles that still lack the company's new technological features like the Sync hands-free system or the contractor-friendly Work Solutions.
While we're waiting for Ford to introduce the next-generation Ranger, we suggest shoppers looking for a compact pickup check out the larger and more refined Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. Commercial users may also want to consider the new Ford Transit Connect van, which offers better fuel economy than V6-powered Ranger models and significantly better cargo capacity.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 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 (though a 7-foot bed is optional for fleet buyers on the XL regular cab model).
The XL is sparsely equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, a trailer hitch, a 60/40 front bench seat, vinyl (cloth on the SuperCab) upholstery, air-conditioning and an AM/FM stereo. The XLT gets 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. The Ranger Sport receives upgraded wheels (16-inch alloys on 4x4 models), a full-size spare tire, heavy-duty gas shocks (SuperCab), skid plates (SuperCab 4x4 models only), sidestep bars, bucket seats and a center console.
The optional Payload Package #2 (V6 SuperCabs only) adds increased rear spring rates and heavy-duty shocks. A bedliner, rear tinted glass and a rear sliding window are also optional on the XLT and Sport.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Ford Ranger comes standard with a 2.3-liter inline-4 that produces 143 horsepower 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 22 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual and 19/24/21 with the automatic.
The available 4.0-liter V6 (an option on XLT and standard on Sport) 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 available separately. Fuel economy ranges from 15/21/17 with rear drive and the manual to 14/18/15 on the 4X4 with the automatic.
The 2011 Ford Ranger comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and stability control. Side curtain airbags are not available.
In government crash testing, the Ranger earned a top five-star rating for driver protection in frontal impacts and four stars for front passenger protection. Side-impact protection for the front passengers also got five stars.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash tests, the Ranger earned an "Acceptable" rating (the second highest on a scale of four) and a top "Good" rating for side impacts on SuperCab models equipped with side-impact airbags. The IIHS also noted that the SuperCab's inward-facing rear jump seats are "not recommended for safe transport."
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ranger's interior hasn't had a significant makeover in more than a decade. What it lacks in style it makes up for with straightforward ergonomics, including simple user-friendly controls. The front seats are comfortable enough for most folks, though taller drivers will feel a little cramped.
SuperCab models can be had with a pair of rear-seat access doors and small, inward-facing rear jump seats. While these fold-down perches will accommodate a couple of young children or even a flexible adult for short jaunts, they're no place to put anyone whose comfort or safety you care about.
The 2011 Ford Ranger offers acceptable acceleration with the 4.0-liter V6 under the hood, though its giddy-up pales in comparison to its competitors. Opt for the 143-hp four-cylinder engine and you'll get relatively good fuel economy but relatively pokey performance.
Ride and handling seem good enough until you drive the Ranger back to back with more up-to-date models from Dodge, GM, Nissan and Toyota, at which point the truck's choppy ride and subpar handling and braking become readily apparent.