I am very pleased overall with my 2004 Ranger. While it isn't the most comfortable vehicle I have ever owned, it is one of the most dependable by far. Maintenance/repair costs have been much lower than previous vehicles and at 150,000+ miles it is still going strong. I hope FORD decides to bring back the Ranger in an affordable package with a crew cab option. The back seat in the Supercab is pretty much worthless unless for some light storage. But, overall this is a great little truck!
I bought this Ranger (my 4th or 5th, can't remember) 5+ years ago (2011) with 82K miles on it. I paid $7000 for it at that time. It had been owned by a maintenance fanatic and was absolutely as-new. Every service had been performed on schedule. It now has 113K miles on it and the maintenance has been kept up in the same manner. I've had no problems with it at all. The 4.0 engine has had full-synthetic oil since the first change. My only non-routine-maintenance costs so far have a set of spark plugs and coils (an engine miss triggered a code telling me an ignition coil had misfired), and a new battery soon after I bought the truck. It's five years old now so will probably not last much longer.
This truck has all the toys: power windows, locks, automatic transmission, A/C, cruise-control, the Pioneer sound system etc., and everything has always worked as it should. The Ruby Red metallic finish still looks new even though the truck has been parked outside for the last 5 years.
Driving impressions: I love driving this little hauler! It has a heavy duty lumber rack, the first thing I do to any truck. I regularly haul 500 pounds of beams and other long items on the rack and another 500 pounds in the bed, and the truck never complains. It gets 20 mpg all around driving (very little city) and 22-3 on long trips. Nice and quiet, handles well, the ride is great considering the hauling capability. I have a heavy-duty lumber rack on the truck and it often gets some amazing loads on it, which it handles fine.
When I bought the truck, it had gone about 5000 miles on a set of new tires. Now, 30,000 miles later, they still look good, like at about 50%, with no uneven wear. This speaks well for the trucks suspension design.
Low-speed acceleration is impressive. Highway acceleration, not so much. It surprised me that on a regular trip I do which includes many miles of 50-65 mph mildly curving highway up and down mountain ranges, the truck has a hard time keeping up with traffic. Then I finally figured out to lock it out of overdrive! That way the performance is fine, although certainly not impressive.
Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints about this truck. Oh yeah, one little one. The seat cushions are really hard, but I fixed that with a foam chair pad. The backrests are great for me.
That 4.0 SOC engine gets 18-19 mpg in mixed highway/town driving and 20-22 highway. For a truck, I'm happy with that. I do use premium gas, however, and the mileage is enough better to offset the cost of the gas, plus it performs noticeably better all around. The transmission is terrific. Shifts solidly but smoothly and always right when it should.
On a Ranger Forum I subscribe to, there are complaints about timing chain issues on high-mile engines, and getting to the rear timing chain (yes, the right one is at the back of the engine) means removing the engine, as in expensive. I'm hoping that my oil-change diligence and that I keep the RPMs to a reasonable level will make this a non-issue.
Bottom line: I can't think of a truck I could buy for this money that I'd rather have.
UPDATE (2/14/2018) My Little Red Truck now has 119,000 miles on it and I need to update the one complaint I had in my original review. Acceleration at highway speeds. It's not the truck's fault; it's about my reluctance to floor it and wind up the RPM's! I love the gearing in this thing, and the high overdrive ratio is what keeps the revs down to a liesurely 2000 RPM at 60 mph. But the price for this relaxed engine speed is that at that speed, the engine is way out of it's maximum power range. It's all about getting that good fuel mileage. So then now I need to pass some slow-moving truck pulling up a long grade at highway speeds, I now just go for it. As soon as it shifts out of overdrive it passes anything with no issues other than my worrying about excess engine speed. Since even while passing at highway speeds I still don't ever need to exceed 4000 RPM, and even that is only for a few seconds, I guess I'm doing no harm.
UPDATE (8/16/2018) Edmunds asked for an update, so here it is: 132,000 miles now, lots of miles back and forth from CA to our new home in Oregon. Still getting 22 mpg average on those trips, no repairs, no problems, and this amazing little truck seems to run better the more miles it racks up. 1/2 qt. down on oil between 5000 mile changes. Tires now have nearly 60K miles on them, still about 20% left and nice, even tread wear.
I bought a used 84k mile standard cab, 6 ft bed "Edge" model and I am pleasantly surprised. I worked at Ford back in the 80s and vividly recall the transmission trouble Rangers had back then. I saw this one on the lot, liked the stepside look, Googled reviews on it (most were right here) and liked what I read. Bought it for $6k and feel like I got a great deal. UWS makes a bed toolbox for these (TBS-54-SPLA-BLK) that was designed for the older "Splash" stepside models.
The stepside bed styling. Overall small size of the truck that allows great maneuverability.
Mine came with crank windows, no power door locks, and no cruise control. I've already ordered an after market power door lock/keyless entry kit for a mere $57 which I'll install myself. Glass steams up abit when truck is not warmed up but always clears up after a couple minutes of running.