- Turbocharged engine options all around.
- It has the most tech in its class,
- The U.S. finally gets our Raptor.
2024 Ford Ranger First Look: The One We’ve Been Waiting For
Redesigned and Raptorized
We've always respected the peppy turbocharged engine of the current-generation Ford Ranger, but this midsize pickup lacks interior refinement and the ride quality can be a bit floaty. All that is about to change, however, as Ford readies the fifth generation of this popular pickup with a powerful optional engine, exceptional tech features and a Raptor variant for dirt-slinging, chaos-causing fun.
The Ranger sits in a small but competitive market, long dominated by the aging but soon-to-be-redesigned Toyota Tacoma. The new Chevrolet Colorado also looks to be a strong rival, as does its corporate cousin, the GMC Canyon. Folks who want something a bit bigger have the Jeep Gladiator to consider while the lonely Nissan Frontier brings up the rear.
What's under the Ranger's hood?
The standard Ranger will be available in XL, XLT and Lariat trims. The four-door SuperCrew body style is the only choice you'll get, along with a 5-foot bed. Two-wheel drive is standard but you can add a rear locking differential. Four-wheel drive is optional along with a rear locking differential.
We haven't had the chance to drive the 2024 Ranger, but all signs point to an improved experience. The wheelbase and track both gain about 2 inches for improved stability and the shocks have been moved outside of the frame rails, which Ford says will provide greater ride quality and control.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque carries over, but Ford is now offering an available 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. This powerplant is featured in the Ford F-150 and Bronco, but here it's tuned to provide 315 hp and 400 lb-ft. Both engines will be mated to Ford’s excellent 10-speed automatic transmission.
What about the Ranger Raptor?
The long-awaited Ranger Raptor is a welcome challenger to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Like its big brother — the F-150 Raptor — this Ranger version gets more power and a whole slew of off-road goodies.
Only available in four-wheel drive, the Ranger Raptor gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 405 ponies and 430 lb-ft of torque just waiting to dance through the desert. The 10-speed automatic is here, this time with the added benefit of paddle shifters for a manual shifting experience. Drive modes include Normal, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery, Off Road, Rock Crawl and Baja. Ford says the turbo keeps spinning for 3 seconds after the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal in Baja mode. In theory, this should mean the turbo will still be spooled up and ready for action upon corner exit. We can't wait to try this out for ourselves.
No lift for the Raptor
It is disappointing that the Raptor doesn't get an additional lift over the standard four-wheel-drive Ranger. However, its 33-inch BFGoodrich KO3 all-terrain tires add a bit of ground clearance, so the truck is sitting 10.7 inches off terra firma. The chassis has been upgraded to include reinforced front frame rails and suspension mounting points to withstand a desert beatdown, and all the important bits underneath are protected by skid plates.
Stability is increased by a 3.5-inch-wider track and a Watts linkage and trailing arm setup in the rear. The rear leaf springs are axed in favor of a coilover setup, and there are Fox 2.5-inch live valve shocks with internal bypasses at all four corners. Heck, there are even piggyback reservoirs on the rear for better cooling of the Teflon-infused shock oil.
Wheel travel is up to over 10 inches in the front, over 11 inches in the rear and most of the geometry looks pretty good too. The Ranger Raptor has a departure angle of 26.4 degrees and a breakover angle of 24.2 degrees. However, its approach angle of 33 degrees is the worst in the segment, falling behind the ZR2 by a good 5 degrees and behind the Jeep Gladiator Mojave by over 11 degrees. Yeah, this thing needs a lift.
Making up for that approach angle are standard front and rear locking differentials, a boon to those who want to take their Raptor into the rocks. Also on tap is an active exhaust mode with Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja noises. To prove your brand loyalty, you can even download the Baja exhaust note to your phone.
However, you'll take a hit when it comes to towing and payload thanks to the off-road tuned springs in the rear. The Ranger Raptor can tow 5,510 pounds and haul 1,411 pounds in the bed. The good news is that the Raptor gets all the same towing tech as in the standard Ranger.
The Raptor's cabin gets the same gauge cluster and infotainment screen options as the standard Ranger, and the design is mostly the same save for some keen orange accents. The seats, however, are much more supportive and hug your rear and shoulders to keep you planted while bombing through the whoops.
How's the Ranger's interior?
Depending on trim, the interior of Ford's new truck ranges from utilitarian to serviceable. There aren't many luxury touches here, folks. There are some soft-touch surfaces, and the seats seem to be very comfortable on the Lariat trim, but fine leather and interesting textures are not part of the game. However, we love that the air-conditioning controls are physical dials and that the traditional shifter feels sturdy in our hand.
The outside of the Ranger doesn't deviate too much from the previous generation, save for the front end. Here you'll find design cues from the larger F-150, including C-shaped headlights and taillights, as well as specific front fascias for each trim. We like the new fender flares and optional body-color wheel arches as well.
How's the Ranger's tech?
Ford elevates the Ranger to the top of the midsize truck class in terms of technology. In addition to all the cool trailer tech, the new Ranger also gets Active Park Assist 2.0 to help maneuver into both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. Forward collision warning is present, as is evasive steering assistance, traffic sign recognition, post-collision braking and adaptive cruise control.
Off-road tech includes a terrain management system with drive modes for sand, snow and the like. There is also the Trail Control system that works a bit like a slow-speed cruise control for navigating off-pavement excursions. Drivers will also be happy with the new forward-facing camera for a better view of the path ahead.
Inside the Ranger's cabin, you'll find a standard 8-inch digital gauge cluster with an option to upgrade to a 12.4-inch instrument panel. The 10.1-inch center touchscreen is plenty big, but you can also select a 12-inch screen; the latter is loaded with Ford's updated Sync 4A infotainment system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but there aren't an abundance of USB ports (just four total — two USB-As and two USB-Cs). However, wireless charging is available, and the rear seat is treated to a standard household outlet.
How are the Ranger's towing and hauling?
The Ranger's usefulness gets a boost with a new lie-flat rear seat for hauling large items that need to stay secure. However, you'll lose passenger space as there is no 60/40 split to the rear seatback. There is also room to store smaller items under the rear seat, moving them out of sight of thieving eyes.
Towing capability remains the same at 7,500 pounds, but Ford has added some technology to make hauling your toys easier. You can program the size of up to 10 trailers into the system so the blind-spot warning system will cover the length of your trailer. There is also a new integrated trailer brake controller and the nifty Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature that takes the complicated steering out of the equation when reversing a trailer. The driver simply turns a knob on the dash in the direction the trailer should go. Also available is Trailer Reverse Guidance — a 360-degree camera that shows you everything you might run into when backing up.
The new Ranger can haul up to 1,805 pounds in the bed, and the wheelhouses have been pushed outward to just over 4 feet. There is a much-appreciated side step available to easily reach cargo in the bed, as well as in-bed lighting to help locate items.
What does the Ranger cost?
If you're wondering how much all this Ranger goodness will cost, we've got you covered. The standard 2024 Ranger will start at $34,160 including destination, much more than the Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. Expect availability late this summer with the 2.7-liter engine debuting later in the fall.
The Ranger Raptor will start at $56,960, nearly $10,000 more than its main rival the Chevy Colorado ZR2. Look for the Raptor in dealerships late this summer.
The Ford Ranger was long overdue for a revamp and we can't wait to try out the new 2.7-liter engine. We are a bit disappointed by the Raptor's ground clearance and approach angle, but the aftermarket can likely solve those problems.