What Are The 5 Best Years For The Ford Ranger?

In the world of compact pickup trucks, few names resonate as much as the Ford Ranger. With a lineage spanning over three decades, the Ranger has become a symbol of resilience, utility, and unwavering reliability. But among the myriad model years and configurations, which year of the Ford Ranger emerges as the best?

Identifying this isn’t merely a matter of personal preference, but a deeper look into factors like performance, durability, comfort, and technology. Let’s dive into the evolution of the Ford Ranger, understand its highs and lows, and ultimately discover which year’s model stands unrivaled atop the Ranger Pantheon.


What Are The 5 Best Years For The Ford Ranger?

1.     1983 Ford Ranger

As the first iteration of this iconic line, the 1983 Ford Ranger set the foundation for compact trucks in the automotive industry. Powered by a choice of a 2.0-liter or a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, this model was focused on fuel efficiency, making it popular among buyers seeking to balance utility with economy.

Its spacious cabin was a welcome feature, setting it apart from some competitors of the time. The Ranger’s reliability was another significant selling point, with many ’83 Rangers still running well into the 21st century.

This model year was particularly notable for the introduction of the Ranger nameplate, its design philosophy, and utility-focused features, which would guide the evolution of the line for decades to come.

1983 Ford Ranger model.

2.     1993 Ford Ranger

The start of the Ranger’s second generation, the 1993 model was marked by a design overhaul that included more aerodynamic features and an updated interior. One major introduction was the powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine option, a step up from the previous generation’s powertrain offerings.

This model also saw the debut of the “Splash” variant, a sportier take on the Ranger with a flareside bed and unique graphics. The ’93 Ranger managed to balance improved power and performance with maintained fuel efficiency, offering a well-rounded pickup option for buyers of the time.

3.     2001 Ford Ranger

This year marked another significant milestone for the Ranger series. The 2001 model boasted significant improvements in technology and safety features, including optional side door intrusion beams and a SecuriLock anti-theft system.

More importantly, this year introduced the Edge variant, which came with a 4.0-liter SOHC V6, providing a substantial boost in power. The 2001 Ranger also featured an improved suspension system, adding comfort to its already impressive utility and performance.

4.     2011 Ford Ranger

The 2011 model year stands out as the last year of production for the Ranger in North America before its 2019 comeback. This model featured a simple, straightforward design with a focus on utility and reliability, traits cherished by Ranger enthusiasts.

With two engine options, a 2.3-liter four-cylinder and a 4.0-liter V6, and availability in both 2WD and 4WD, this year’s Ranger provided versatile options to fit different buyers’ needs. Despite its impending hiatus, the 2011 Ranger represented the enduring appeal of compact, reliable pickups.

2011 Ford Ranger engine.

5.     2019 Ford Ranger

After an eight-year hiatus in North America, the Ford Ranger made a strong comeback with the 2019 model. Significantly updated, it featured a single but powerful engine choice: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The new Ranger embraced modern automotive technology with advanced driver assistance features, a refined interior, and improved fuel efficiency. With its combination of traditional Ranger utility and contemporary comfort and technology, the 2019 model signaled a promising future for this iconic line.

What Are The 5 Worst Years For The Ford Ranger?

1.     1986 Ford Ranger

Despite its vintage charm, the 1986 Ranger fell short in a few key areas. A recall due to a defect in the fuel system, specifically the fuel line, was a significant drawback. This defect could potentially cause leakage and even fire, which was a safety concern.

Additionally, customers reported issues with the engine performance and suspension, which often led to uncomfortable rides and unsatisfactory power delivery.

2.     1998 Ford Ranger

The 1998 model of the Ranger suffered from several issues that tarnished its reputation among consumers. This model was prone to problems with the transmission, including premature failure.

Many owners also reported problems with the vehicle’s suspension and chassis components, which could lead to a rough ride and expensive repairs. Moreover, there were frequent complaints about poor fuel efficiency, making it less economical for daily use.

3.     2004 Ford Ranger

The 2004 Ford Ranger had notable issues in terms of reliability and safety. One significant problem involved the vehicle’s automatic transmission, which tended to fail prematurely, leading to costly repairs.

Moreover, there were issues with the frame, specifically the front cross member’s corrosion, leading to potential safety risks. This model was also involved in the massive Takata airbag recall, which affected its overall safety ratings.

2004 Ford Ranger exterior.

4.     2008 Ford Ranger

While a solid performer in many respects, the 2008 Ranger had several deficiencies. Owners often reported problems with the engine, such as misfiring and unexpected stalling, leading to inconvenient breakdowns.

The model also suffered from certain transmission issues, including difficulty in shifting and occasional transmission failure. Additionally, many customers complained about the truck’s dated interior design and lack of modern amenities.

5.     2012 Ford Ranger (International Model)

Although the Ranger was discontinued in North America after 2011, it continued to be sold internationally. The 2012 model, however, had some flaws. It was known for problems with its 3.2-liter five-cylinder diesel engine, including instances of coolant loss, which could potentially lead to engine overheating or even failure.

Also, the model was subject to recalls related to the transmission’s output shaft speed sensor and the rear seatback. This year’s model was also criticized for its less refined ride quality compared to some of its competitors.

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Years with the most complaints, according to various user reports and databases such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), generally include 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004. These years frequently saw issues related to transmissions, engines, and certain aspects of the vehicle’s body and chassis.

Common Problems Of A Ford Ranger

1.     Transmission Failure

Some Ford Rangers, particularly models from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, have been reported to experience premature transmission failure. Issues ranged from difficulty shifting gears to total transmission breakdown, often requiring expensive repair or replacement.

2.     Engine Misfire

Some owners have reported engine misfiring, especially in models from the early 2000s. This issue often leads to rough idling, and reduced power, and can sometimes cause the engine to stall, which can be potentially dangerous if it happens while driving.

Man repairing car engine.

3.     Timing Chain Rattle

This is a common issue with certain Ford Ranger models equipped with the 4.0-liter SOHC V6 engine. The timing chain tensioners can wear out and cause a rattling noise, and in severe cases, may lead to significant engine damage.

4.     Rusty Frame

Certain older models of the Ford Ranger, especially those from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, have been reported to experience excessive rust on the frame. This can compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle and may require costly repairs.

5.     Fuel Pump Failure

Some owners of early to mid-2000s Ford Ranger models have reported issues with the fuel pump. Symptoms often include difficulty starting the vehicle, poor fuel economy, and stalling while driving.

6.     Blown Head Gasket

This issue, while not extremely common, is a serious one when it does occur. It typically leads to overheating, poor performance, and potentially severe engine damage. Some late ’90s to early 2000s models have been reported to encounter this problem.

7.     Airbag Issues

Ford Ranger models from the early to mid-2000s were part of the large-scale Takata airbag recall due to potentially defective inflators. These could rupture and cause injury in the event of an accident where the airbags deploy.

Accident with airbags deployment and a smashed windshield.

8.     Clutch Problems

Some Ford Ranger models, particularly those from the late ’90s and early 2000s with manual transmissions, have been reported to experience clutch problems. These can include a stiff clutch pedal, difficulty shifting, or premature clutch failure.

9.     Coolant Leakage

This issue is primarily seen in the 2012 Ford Ranger international model with the 3.2-liter five-cylinder diesel engine. Coolant loss could potentially lead to engine overheating or even failure if not promptly addressed.

10.     Power Window Failures

Power window failures have been reported in some Ford Ranger models. This often involves the window regulator and can lead to a window being stuck in one position, either open or closed.

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Ford Ranger?

1.     Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is a popular alternative to the Ford Ranger. Known for its solid reliability, outstanding off-road prowess, and strong resale value, the Tacoma has long been a favorite among midsize truck buyers. It offers two engine choices: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a more powerful 3.5-liter V6.

With available features like a multi-terrain select system and crawl control, the Tacoma is designed to tackle a variety of off-road conditions. While Tacoma’s interior may feel dated compared to some competitors, it’s functional and built to last.

2023 Toyota Tacoma driving off-road.

2.     Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevy Colorado offers a good balance of power, comfort, and utility. It stands out in the segment with its three engine options, including an efficient four-cylinder, a powerful V6, and a torque-rich turbodiesel – offering some of the best towing capacities in the class.

The Colorado also features a comfortable and quiet cabin, with a user-friendly infotainment system. Plus, for off-roading enthusiasts, the Colorado ZR2 model offers impressive capabilities.

3.     Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline deviates from conventional truck design with its unibody construction, providing a smoother ride than many competitors. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a good balance of power and fuel efficiency.

The Ridgeline features a versatile bed with a unique in-bed trunk and a dual-action tailgate, enhancing its utility. Inside, the Ridgeline boasts one of the most comfortable and upscale cabins in the class, with plenty of passenger space and an array of standard tech features.

4.     Nissan Frontier

The Nissan Frontier, especially its newly redesigned model, is a capable alternative. Known for its durability and off-road capabilities, the Frontier offers a powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine. While its interior isn’t as upscale as some competitors, it’s functional and straightforward.

The PRO-4X trim, with its off-road suspension, locking rear differential, and underbody skid plates, makes the Frontier a solid choice for off-road enthusiasts.

5.     GMC Canyon

The GMC Canyon, a mechanical twin to the Chevrolet Colorado, is a capable and versatile midsize truck. It offers the same range of efficient and powerful engines as Colorado but sets itself apart with a slightly more upscale interior.

The Canyon’s cabin is quiet and comfortable, and the truck offers several advanced safety features. The Canyon’s Denali trim, with its luxury features and refined interior, can give some full-size trucks a run for their money.

2023 GMC Canyon steering wheel detail.

6.     Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator stands out in the midsize truck segment with its impressive off-road abilities, drawing from its Wrangler roots. It offers a strong 3.6-liter V6 engine and a torquey 3.0-liter diesel V6.

With features like solid front and rear axles, a disconnectable front sway bar, and optional locking differentials, the Gladiator is a beast off-road. Plus, it’s the only convertible pickup truck on the market, adding to its unique appeal.

7.     Ford F-150

For those who need more power and capability than the Ranger can provide, the Ford F-150 is a viable option. As America’s best-selling vehicle, the F-150 offers a range of potent engine options, a high-quality interior, and best-in-class towing and payload capacities.

Its high-tech features, such as the Pro Trailer Backup Assist and an intuitive infotainment system, add to its appeal. While larger and more expensive than the Ranger, the F-150 delivers significantly more capability.

8.     Ram 1500

If interior quality and ride comfort are priorities, the Ram 1500 is worth considering. While it’s a full-size truck, its coil-spring rear suspension delivers arguably the smoothest ride in the class.

The Ram 1500 offers a range of strong engines, including a fuel-efficient diesel, and its high-quality, well-designed interior is one of the best in the segment. Plus, it offers innovative features like a multifunction tailgate and a large, vertically oriented infotainment screen.

What Model Ford Ranger Is Best?

As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, many enthusiasts and experts consider the 2019 and newer Ford Ranger models as some of the best. These models marked the return of the Ranger in North America after an eight-year hiatus. They come with a powerful and efficient 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The interior is modern and well-equipped, and these models also offer advanced driver-assistance features, showing a significant upgrade from older Ranger models. However, the “best” model may vary depending on individual needs and preferences, such as off-road capabilities, towing, or fuel efficiency.

Is The 2.2 Ranger Any Good?

The 2.2L TDCi diesel engine, available in some international markets, is a popular choice for Ford Ranger owners due to its blend of performance and fuel efficiency. The engine provides decent power and torque for most driving situations, and it’s generally considered reliable.

However, as with any vehicle, the overall quality and performance can depend significantly on how well the truck has been maintained.

What Is The Best Ford Ranger For Off-Roading?

For off-roading purposes, the Ford Ranger Raptor (available in some international markets) and the Ford Ranger FX4 (available in the U.S.) are excellent choices. Both models come with enhancements like off-road-tuned suspension, all-terrain tires, and skid plates to protect the underbody.

The Ranger Raptor, in particular, offers a more robust off-road package, with a twin-turbo diesel engine (in markets outside the U.S.), beefier suspension, and a terrain management system. The Raptor model wasn’t available in the U.S. market. Always check the latest information from Ford or local dealerships for the most accurate details.

The Ford Ranger, especially models equipped with the FX4 Off-Road package or the Raptor trim (available in some markets), is popular among off-road enthusiasts due to its rugged build, durable suspension, and advanced terrain management system.

These features allow the truck to handle various challenging off-road conditions, from rocky trails to muddy paths. The 4×4 drivetrain, off-road-tuned suspension, all-terrain tires, and skid plates protect the truck’s underbody, enhancing its off-road capabilities.

What Kind Of Engine Does The Ford Ranger Have?

The 2019 and newer Ford Ranger models for the North American market come with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

This engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, offering a good blend of power, efficiency, and towing capability.

Is The Ford Ranger A Good Choice For Towing?

Yes, the Ford Ranger offers impressive towing capabilities for a midsize pickup truck. Equipped with the tow package, the 2019 and newer models can tow up to 7,500 pounds, making it suitable for towing small to midsize trailers, boats, or campers.

What Is The Fuel Efficiency Of The Ford Ranger?

The 2019 and newer Ford Ranger models with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine offer good fuel efficiency for a midsize pickup. According to EPA estimates, these models deliver around 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

What Is The Ranger Raptor And Where Is It Available?

The Ford Ranger Raptor is a high-performance variant of the Ranger, designed with superior off-road capabilities. It features a more powerful twin-turbo diesel engine (in markets outside the U.S.), a robust off-road suspension system, larger all-terrain tires, and an advanced terrain management system.

As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, the Ranger Raptor was not available in the U.S. market, but it was sold in several international markets including Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia.

How Comfortable Is The Ford Ranger For Daily Driving?

The Ford Ranger offers a relatively comfortable ride for a pickup truck, making it suitable for daily driving. The cabin is well-insulated from road noise, and the seats provide good support for long drives.

The truck’s handling is composed, and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine delivers smooth and responsive performance. However, like all trucks, the ride can be a bit bouncy when the bed is empty, especially over rough surfaces.

What Advanced Features Does The Ford Ranger Offer?

The Ford Ranger offers a variety of advanced features, especially in its 2019 and newer models. These include the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assistance technologies, which provides features like automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert.

The truck also offers a modern infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as options for navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system.

What Is The Ford Ranger’s Payload Capacity?

The Ford Ranger has a robust payload capacity. For the 2019 and newer models, the payload capacity ranges up to 1,860 pounds, which is one of the highest figures in the midsize pickup truck segment. This makes the Ranger a practical choice for hauling heavy cargo.

What Kind Of Safety Features Does The Ford Ranger Offer?

The Ford Ranger offers a host of safety features. Standard features on 2019 and newer models include a rearview camera and a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking. Available features include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

2019 Ford Ranger headlight close-up view.

Does The Ford Ranger Come With A Diesel Engine?

In the North American market, as of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, the Ford Ranger does not come with a diesel engine option. It is powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine. However, in some international markets, the Ranger is available with diesel engines, including a 2.2-liter TDCi and a more powerful 3.2-liter TDCi.

Is There A Four-Door Ford Ranger?

Yes, the Ford Ranger is available as a four-door SuperCrew cab model. This version provides seating for up to five people with a pair of full-size rear doors for easy access to the rear seats. The SuperCrew cab model comes with a 5-foot bed, while the smaller SuperCab model features a 6-foot bed.

What Are Some Common Maintenance Tasks For The Ford Ranger?

Regular maintenance tasks for the Ford Ranger include oil and filter changes, tire rotation, brake inspection, and checking and topping off all fluid levels.

Depending on the vehicle’s age and mileage, it may also need spark plug replacement, air filter replacement, coolant flush, or transmission service. Always refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

How Is The Resale Value Of The Ford Ranger?

Historically, the Ford Ranger has held its value relatively well, thanks to its reputation for durability and reliability. Factors such as the vehicle’s condition, mileage, and demand in the used car market will also affect its resale value.

Models with popular features or packages, like the FX4 Off-Road package, may also command a higher resale value.

How Does The Ford Ranger Compare To The Competition?

The Ford Ranger holds its own in the competitive midsize pickup truck segment. It offers a strong engine, good fuel efficiency, high payload and towing capacities, and an array of modern tech and safety features.

However, competitors like the Toyota Tacoma are known for their off-road prowess and strong resale value, while trucks like the Honda Ridgeline offer a more car-like ride and a high-quality interior.


The Ford Ranger remains a compelling choice in the midsize pickup segment, with its strong performance, robust capabilities, and an array of modern features.

Whether you’re seeking a reliable workhorse, an off-road adventurer, or a versatile daily driver, the Ford Ranger offers a range of options to meet different needs and preferences. Always remember to consider your specific requirements and budget when choosing a vehicle. Happy driving!

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!