Traded my 2001 Ranger regular cab in for a 2010 Mustang GT. Once the novelty wore off, I missed my old Ranger so much that I traded the Mustang for a new Ranger. Nothin' fancy - easy to understand/operate controls, great big windows for tremendous visibility, very stable and comfortable ride, nice turn radius for parking lot ops, and 25 MPG with only 800 miles on this new truck. Although the 4 cylinder engine won't let you win any drag races, it's certainly enough power to get around town and accelerate to highway speeds safely. Great 5 speed manual transmission and clutch. Perfectly sized truck; easy to get into and out of. Perfect bed height for loading/unloading cargo.
Bought the truck 6 months ago; XLT 2x4 Extra Cab with the Duratec 2.3L I4, 5 speed Manual trans, & 4.10 rearend gears. So far the truck has been fantastic and surpassed expectations! The Ranger has not changed in years which is a good thing because it still has a great feel when you drive it. Its smooth on the highway, has a convenient interior, and the trucks size allows it to be parked nearly anywhere. Will it win a drag race? NO... but it has all the power it needs. I am happy to start my Ranger every morning... the 5 speed manual is fun to drive and has all the pep it needs with the 2.3. My first ranger was an 02' and was the best vehicle I have ever owned, thus I bought another!!!!!
Ranger gets a bad rap because the design doesn't change much from year to year. My previous vehicle was a one owner 1999 ranger (me) with 367,000 miles on it. Used synthetic oil the life of the vehicle and never had to replace even a valve cover gasket. The Ranger is a fun vehicle and extremely reliable. Go ahead and spend more money, but you will be overpaying.
2011 will be the last year for Ranger. Thats why I bought my 4.0 V6, 5 speed. This will make the 8th one starting in 1984. Every model I have owned has been better then the last, and they were all good work trucks. I have read the reviews and wonder if the writers have ever had to work, using a truck ,every day for years on end. Why do you think Ford has sold every Ranger that they can make? Simple, they work. If you take reasonable care, they will last for years with out major problems. For the price you will not find a better truck. Ford has over 28 years making this truck, I think they got it right.
The one words that I think that best describe this vehicle are quality and reliability. Before I bought my '05 Ranger I had a '99 Dakota and was severely disappointed by the quality within one year of owning the vehicle it already had electrical problems and needed new ball joints. With my Ranger I've never had any problems with it and it still runs strong with a 120,000 miles on it. I think people get stuck on the fact that the interior design is that comfortable and doesn't change that much from year to year. But at the end of the day the Ranger will run strong, work hard, and is of the upmost quality and will be with you for a very long time and will outlast most trucks.