When it comes to compact pickup trucks, engines are pretty ho-hum. They're underpowered four-cylinder engines or perfectly average V6s. Our long-term 2019 Ford Ranger's turbo engine is different. It can actually elicit some enjoyment.
That turbocharger hanging off the exhaust side of the engine is really what makes a difference. It provides a competitive 270 horsepower, but also, and more important, the most torque of any gas-powered engine in its class at 310 pound-feet. And between the fast-spooling turbo and the fact the torque comes on in the middle of the powerband, you don't have to wait long or work hard to extract that power and torque. It has effortless, enthusiastic power.
Somewhat surprisingly, the engine sounds good, too. Tromp on the throttle and you're rewarded with a deep throaty gargle and a hint of turbo whistle. It's a refreshing change from nasal V6s and thrashing naturally aspirated inline-fours of other trucks.
As much as I love this engine, I do have one main complaint: The transmission it's coupled to could use some improvement. It's smooth, but it's slow to change gears, and it sometimes hunts. The "sport" shift setting seems to reduce the amount of hunting and multiple gear changes, but of course it also holds revs longer than is desirable in normal driving. There's no convenient way to do your own shifting, either, as you have to rely on the silly little toggle switch on the shift lever for changing gears. Basically, some reprogramming and shift paddles would fix my issues with it.
Even with my transmission gripes, the power and soundtrack make this my favorite compact truck powertrain on the market right now. And it's good enough that I think it would make a great base for a fast Ranger, too; either a U.S.-spec Raptor or my dream of a Ranger ST street truck. The fact that the engine is based on the turbo engine in the Mustang certainly opens it up to more power and easy modding. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the stock engine of our long-termer.