Now in its third year back in the U.S. market, the Ford Ranger pick-up remains a great value. It’s for anyone who wants a rugged and dependable truck for an affordable price. The Ranger, a mid-size pick-up, comes in two body styles with two bed lengths. Its trim levels range from the base model XL to the luxurious Lariat edition. All Rangers are powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that is equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Both rear- and four-wheel drive models are available. For a little extra, you can also opt for the Ranger’s FX4 off-road package. It features a specially tuned suspension, thicker tires, and a locking rear differential. Let’s break down the rest of the 2021 Ford Ranger to help you determine whether it’s the right truck for you.
In terms of the outside of the Ranger, not a lot has changed with the 2021 model. The black appearance package, which adds blacked out 18-inch wheels and a black grille, now also includes black Ford oval badges and new black bedside decals. Four new exterior colors have also been added: Cactus Gray, Carbonized Gray, Cyber Orange, and Velocity Blue. Beyond the black package and new exterior colors, not much has changed at all. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the Ranger’s previous design, so this is hardly a deal breaker. However, a full redesign likely won’t happen until year five of the Ranger’s reappearance.
Engine and Performance
Under the hood, the 2021 Ranger sports a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. It generates 270 horsepower and 310-pound feet of torque. While not excessive, that’s enough muscle to make the Ranger XLT a fast and mobile truck. The lighter Ranger XL model has been singled out and praised by critics for its speed and agility. Every trimline of the 2021 Ranger comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It provides smooth and responsive shifting.
Rear-wheel drive models offer 8.4 inches of ground clearance, while four-wheel-drive versions have clearance of 8.9 inches. The 2021 Ranger can also come equipped with an optional Terrain Management System. It will improve the engine responsiveness and transmission gearing to optimize the truck’s performance on different types of terrain – from mud to gravel to snow. Four selectable drive modes are also possible — normal, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, and sand.
Trimlines and Prices
As for trimlines, the 2021 Ford Ranger comes in three versions – the base model XL, the mid-level XLT, and the top-of-the-line Lariat edition. Anyone wanting both value and performance should be happy with the XL version, which can be had with an optional extended cab. The XL Supercab has all the power and quality of the other trims, but isn’t as heavy. Although it’s the base model, the XL still comes standard with forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking. Those advanced safety features are only available on the competing Chevrolet Colorado’s and the GMC Canyon’s highest trim levels. Optional upgrades to the 2021 Ranger include four-wheel drive, the FX4 off-road suspension, a bed liner, heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and a larger eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
Prices per trim are as follows. Check out Ford’s website for even more details about how the trims differ.
- XL: $26,015
- XLT: $30,065
- Lariat: $34,105
It’s also worth noting the 2021 Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds when equipped with the optional tow package. As for payload, the Ranger is good for up to 1,860 pounds.
The newest Ranger is available in the aforementioned extended cab (SuperCab) or a crew cab (SuperCrew) model. The roomier SuperCrew seats up to five people and comes with four doors. Meanwhile the SuperCab provides seating for four occupants and has two smaller half-doors. As in some other Ford products, the Ranger’s cabin continues to include mostly plastic. However, there are a few touches of nicer trim that make the truck feel more upscale. Both the SuperCab and SuperCrew cabins have been called comfortable, and their controls user-friendly by reviewers.
When it comes to technology, the 2021 Ranger comes standard with a few infotainment and connectivity features. Highlights include a four-speaker AM/FM audio system, a single USB port, and a WiFi hotspot that can connect up to ten devices. The XLT and Lariat models come outfitted with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio. An integrated GPS navigation system and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system are both available for a few extra dollars. The infotainment system runs on Ford’s Sync3 system.
In crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2021 Ford Ranger earned four out of a possible five stars. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Again, many of these safety features are only available in the highest trimlines of competing trucks.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Ranger mostly “good” ratings in their crashworthiness tests. They also called the Ranger’s front vehicle crash prevention “superior” and its vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash protection “advanced.” Overall, the 2021 Ranger does a lot to keep its occupants safe — without asking for extra dollars.
As with all Ford vehicles, the Ranger comes with competitive warranty coverage. However, unlike the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, or GMC Canyon, the Ranger isn’t available with complimentary scheduled maintenance. Its warranty coverage includes a limited warranty that covers three years or 36,000 miles. The powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the 2021 Ranger with rear-wheel drive will earn up to 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG when driven on a highway. The all-wheel-drive version has estimates as high as 20 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on a highway. These numbers are pretty respectable for a mid-size pick up truck with a touch a power. If you wanted a more powerful truck, you’d be looking into six- or eight-cylinder models, which the Ranger is not. But you’ll be sacrificing a big chunk of your gas mileage too.
- Decent engine and horsepower.
- Well-equipped in the base model trimline.
- Competitive warranty coverage.
- No scheduled maintenance available.
- Interior remains filled with plastic knobs and lacks style.
- No significant changes to the exterior except for some new color choices.
The Last Word
The 2021 Ranger isn’t the biggest, strongest, or most durable pick-up truck on the market. However, it’s a great choice for anyone who wants a mid-size truck that is both affordable and fun to drive. While it won’t appeal to everyone, the latest version of the Ranger is ideal for those who mostly drive in the city but like to head off-road on the weekends. With lots of standard safety features and a cabin that can seat up to five people comfortably, the 2021 Ford Ranger is a steal at just over $25,000 for the well-equipped base model XL trimline. Even the more expensive versions offer a heap of value for any truck lover.