This is my second Ranger. Between the two I've owned I've driven a combined 400,000 miles over 20 years on the 2.3/2.5 engine with manual transmission. The first was bought new with the XLT Lariat package. The second is an XL bought with 65,000 miles in it.
This truck isn't a sports car. It isn't a luxury car. If you want these why are you buying a truck at all? It's a truck and it looks and runs like one. As it should. But it corners as well as my Spitfire and feels nearly as sporty with the excellent 4 speed/overdrive gearbox and peppy engine. And it's comfortable and pleasant in the cab though not a luxury car.
The interior is basic. It is well laid out and attractively designed enough, even in the XL base model configuration. In both my trucks the gauges are complete and well laid out. The seats are comfortable whether on longer drives or getting groceries. The interior is durable and well made. But yes, the extended cab would be nice for briefcases, groceries, dogs and so on. And this is not a family car or people carrier.
Know what it does better than any of the 17 or so vehicles I've owned before and during my 22 years of Ranger ownership? It starts, drives and stops with reasonable fuel economy every time. It hauls tools and material for my work and tows my tent trailer and small boat without problems. It costs little to maintain, being common and American. And repairs are extremely rare and pretty reasonable.
I'm terrible at maintanance. Over 400,000 miles I've changed oil at most a dozen times. Rotating tires or chassis lubes? Never. But both trucks combined cost something like $1000 in non maintanance repair at my mechanic's over 20 years. With my ridiculous neglect the truck simply just keeps going. Basically the bulletproof reliability of my Ranger enables me to afford the maintanance of British and Italian sports cars, to which the term 'reliable' will never be applied.
For me the manual transmission and peppy motor are just fun to drive as well. The handling and braking are good or a bit better than that. The ride is sporty. But they do bump steer when not loaded, and they are relatively noisy compared to a mid range passenger car or sport utility.
Resale? In my area, suburban Puget Sound, I could sell the truck I bought 7 years ago for pretty much what I paid for it. After 7 years of hard use.
These trucks are among the best things Ford ever made, itself a high compliment.
I own a 2WD 2001 Ranger Edge with the 3.0L V6 and an automatic transmission with only 80,000 miles on it. So far in the year I've had it, I've had to replace the oil pan gasket (the 3L commonly has oil pan gasket problems, mine was pushed out from the pan/block seal at both ends of the engine), fuel pump (died), blower motor (died), blower resister pack (melted), dash lights (a few behind the speedo and tach died), and starter. And I've still got to replace the seal around the third brake light (leaks like a sieve), and the PATS system (not aftermarket, it's Ford's antitheft system - it often decides the factory keys are not right and locks the truck down in theft mode) Do not buy this truck
Ran good for the first 40,000 then $2300.00 transmission repair due to electronics. Lifters rattle under small hills. Oil pressure guage broken. I have towing package but only towed a small boat three times. Glad it wasn't more -- a lot more would be broken. I WAS a FORD nut. No more.
This truck in my view handles very well. The five speed manual is very good on gas mileage. Seating is very comfortable for a long legged fellow like me. Towing is a bit sluggish on larger hills though.
I have the 3.0L V6. I get decent gas mileage, averaging between 19 and 20 MPG. It truly is a pretty truck when it is driven through town, and gets a lot of attention. Ride height and ground clearance is great, but ride is extremely rough. Great 5-speed manual transmission, and the only problems I have had after 84,000 miles was an emissions problem (EGR flow problems). Other than that, this has been a great truck to drive, and very enjoyable.