Used 1996 Ford Ranger Extended Cab Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

For the 1996 Ford Ranger, an optional passenger-side airbag is now available, and it comes with a switch that will disable the system if a child seat is installed in the truck. Super Cab models get standard privacy glass, Splash models lose that putrid green tape stripe, and the Flareside box from the Splash is now available on two-wheel-drive, four-cylinder XL and XLT models.

Vehicle overview

Whether it's image or utility that attracts you to a compact truck, Ford stands ready to seduce you into its strong-selling Ranger. Trim levels range from the practical XL through the well-trimmed XLT and STX--all the way to the beguiling little Ranger Splash with its fiberglass Flareside bed, chrome wheels, and lowered suspension.

With the optional 4.0-liter V6 engine, in particular, acceleration is impressively brisk, whether from a standstill or when merging and passing. The base four cylinder engine can overtax the Ranger when carrying a heavy load. Automatic-transmission upshifts are crisp and barely noticed, with just a slight jolt under hard throttle, and downshifts deliver only slightly more harshness. Push-button four-wheel-drive, if installed, is a snap to use.

Well-controlled overall, with good steering feedback, Rangers handle easily, corner capably (within limits), maneuver neatly, and stay reasonably stable on curves. Occupants aren't likely to complain about the ride, either, though it can grow bouncy around town. Gas mileage isn't the greatest with the big engine and automatic, as expected.

Ranger sports an worldwide industry first for safety protection this year. An optional passenger side airbag is available, and it can be disabled with the flick of a switch in the event that a car seat is installed in the truck. Also new for 1996 is a 100,000-mile tune-up interval on the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and standard privacy glass on Supercab models. A fresh twist for XL and XLT two-wheel drive models equipped with the base engine is the Flareside box from the Ranger Splash; it can be ordered on regular and Supercab models. Trim changes include the deletion of the garish green tape stripe on Splash models, as well as the cargo cover on Supercab models. The XL Sport disappears from the lineup.

Seats are firm and supportive, urging you to lean back and enjoy a long haul. Rangers are all truck, with few pretensions toward any other identity, but can be loaded with gadgets like a luxury auto. Fun to drive, sharp looking and well-built, they deliver a solid compact-pickup experience.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.