2003 Ranger New Car Test Drive
The Ford Ranger remains the overwhelming first choice among buyers of compact pickups. Nearly a third of all compact pickups sold are Rangers. More than 5 million Rangers have been built since the first one rolled out in 1982.
For 2003, Ford has improved and refined the Ranger with better brakes, new interior fabrics, and more extensive sound insulation. New options and special option packages are available for serious off-road slogging or boulevard cruising.
Some of us still remember when pickup trucks primarily hauled lumber, sand, and fertilizer. They do that better than ever. But to succeed today, a pickup also has to haul attitude. Fortunately, Ford's compact Ranger can haul just about anything with ease. Whether you want an economical truck for your business, a family vehicle with more personality than a car, or a too-hip platform to help you share your tunes with the neighborhood, Ford can build a Ranger just for you.
Prices for basic work trucks start at just over $13,000. A wide range of options, including a powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission, a four-wheel-drive system, and a variety of trim levels and body styles should extend Ranger's appeal over a wide audience.
Ford Ranger comes in a wide range of configurations: three trim levels, three cab configurations, three wheelbase lengths, three engine, a choice of transmissions, and is available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Buyers can also choose six- or seven-foot beds, and flat Styleside or notched Flareside fender shapes. Ranger's base-level four-cylinder engine is supplemented by two optional V6s. Five-speed manual and five-speed automatic ($1000) transmissions are offered with all three engines.
The 2.3-liter inline-four breathes with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. For 2003, new valve timing and a new exhaust manifold have boosted its rated horsepower from 135 to 143. Torque is increased to 154 pounds-feet.
An optional 3.0-liter ohv V6 is rated 154 horsepower and 180 pounds-feet of torque. Ford offers this engine with flexible fuel capability, meaning it can operate on ethanol, gasoline or any combination of the two fuels in the same tank. This engine is standard on all 4x2 SuperCab models equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Topping the chart is a 4.0-liter V6 with single overhead-cams developing 207 horsepower and 238 foot-pounds of torque.
The price-leading Ranger is the XL Regular Cab Styleside ($13,010) with the 2.3-liter engine, manual transmission, and two-wheel-drive.
XLT trim adds chrome trim, interior amenities (including a CD player, tilt wheel, full carpeting), and useful truck accessories (rear step bumper, sliding rear window, mud flaps). XLT models with 4WD get step bars and fog lights, and upgrade from 15-inch steel wheels to 16-inch aluminum rims, wearing P245/75R16 outline-white letter (OWL) tires. A new Bright Appearance Package, offered only on XLT SuperCabs with the Styleside bed, adds chrome step bars, exhaust tips and bedrails with platinum-colored end caps.
Ranger's top trim level is called Edge, and sports monochromatic color schemes that include a vivid Chrome Yellow. Edge comes in 4x2 and 4x4 editions, but either way it rides at the 4x4 height. A raised power dome hood and mesh-pattern front grille contribute to its hip attitude. Four-door SuperCab buyers can choose Edge Plus, with aluminum wheels, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Edge comes with either a 6-disc in-dash CD player or an MP3 player, depending on the model. Edge prices start at $15,190 with the 3.0-liter V6 as standard equipment.
XLT 4x2 SuperCab buyers will be able to get a little closer to the Edge with the Wheels and Tunes package, which adds machined 16-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels, Michelin Pilot XGT P235/60HR16 tires, and an AM/FM single CD/MP3 player or an optional AM/FM in-dash 6-disc CD changer.
Need more power? And not the kind that's under the hood? Ranger's appropriately named Tremor package for 4x2 SuperCabs boasts a premium Pioneer sound system producing 485 watts of eardrum-splitting volume, and a custom-designed subwoofer enclosure that fits in the rear floor area. A high-output alternator keeps the current flowing and white-faced gauges add interior style. Sixteen-inch wheels, P235/70R16 all-season tires, a 4x4 ride height, three monochromatic color schemes (Chrome Yellow, Black and Sonic Blue) and a Tremor decal on your tailgate announce your coolness to anyone who cares.
For serious off-roading, Ranger offers the FX4 package, based on a four-door SuperCab XLT. FX4 packs heavy-duty shocks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, limited-slip axle and nine exterior colors, including the new Arizona Beige.
For 2003, mud-daubers who are even more determined may order the new FX4/Level II, with Bilstein shocks, a Torsen limited-slip axle, eight-hole Alcoa forged aluminum wheels and 31x10.5-inch B.F. Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires. Completing the exterior of the FX4/Level II package are stainless steel front tow hooks, black wheel lip moldings, and skid plates that cover the front suspension and differential, transfer case and fuel tank.