2004 Ranger New Car Test Drive
Ford Ranger has been America’s best-selling compact pickup for 16 years running. Nearly a third of all compact pickups sold are Rangers and more than 5 million Rangers have been built since the first one rolled out in 1982.
For 2004, Ranger features a sporty new interior, revised exterior styling and a new Pioneer audio system. And Ranger's suspension has been retuned for improved ride comfort.
Prices for basic work trucks start under $16,000 and there's a wide range of options available, including a powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive. Edge, Tremor, and FX4 models are available. Buyers should watch for big cash rebates that can substantially reduce the MSRPs reported here.
The 2004 Ranger is available in XL, Edge, XLT, Tremor, and FX4 trim levels in both 4x2 and 4x4. Regular Cab and SuperCab models are available in Styleside and Flareside versions. A long-wheelbase option is available on Regular Cab Styleside models. Five-speed manual and five-speed automatic ($1000) transmissions are available.
Three engines are available: The 2.3-liter four-cylinder is a modern dual overhead-cam design with four valves per cylinder rated at 143 horsepower and 154 pounds-feet of torque. The optional 3.0-liter V6 is a traditional overhead-valve engine rated 154 hp 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 modern 4.0-liter V6 with single overhead-cams developing 207 hp and 238 pounds-feet of torque.
The price-leading Ranger XL starts at just $13,765 and comes with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, manual transmission, and two-wheel-drive.
XLT 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 Bright Appearance Package ($495), offered only on XLT SuperCabs with the Styleside bed, adds chrome step bars, exhaust tips and bedrails with platinum-colored end caps. An XLT Supercab 4x4 retails for $23,050.
Ranger's top trim level is called Edge, and sports monochromatic color schemes that include a vivid Chrome Yellow. 2004 Edge models feature improved shock tuning and larger wheels and tires. 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 $15,850 with the 3.0-liter V6 as standard equipment.
The Tremor package boasts an upgraded Pioneer sound system producing 510 watts, 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. Tremor is distinguished by 16-inch wheels, P235/70R16 all-season tires, a 4x4 ride height, and special color schemes. 2004 Tremor models benefit from improved shock tuning and larger wheels and tires.
The FX4 package is for serious off-roading. The FX4, based on a four-door SuperCab XLT, comes with heavy-duty shocks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, and a limited-slip rear differential. The FX4/Level II package gets Bilstein shocks retuned for 2004 for improved handling on and off road. The package includes a Torsen limited-slip axle, eight-hole Alcoa forged aluminum wheels and 31x10.5-inch B.F. Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires. It comes with stainless steel front tow hooks, black wheel lip moldings, and skid plates that cover the front suspension and differential, transfer case, and fuel tank. Two-tone, thick bolstered bucket seats and ebony interior trim lend a distinctive look, while deep-groove floor mats help protect the carpeting from slush and mud.