Ranger

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2008 Ford Ranger Test Drive Review

Picture of 2008 Ford Ranger The Ranger packs a lot of fun and capability into a nimble, compact pickup truck. It also shows its age in serious ways.

6.2 /10
Overall Score

Pickup trucks are growing, even small ones. Many entries in the compact market are now considered “midsize.” In many ways, this defeats their purpose as they lose their nimble dimensions. Not true of the 2008 Ford Ranger. Despite being one of the last true compacts, it’s every bit as rugged and dependable as its rivals.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

The Ranger hasn’t changed much through the years. The overall look speaks to its nimble nature, while the tall greenhouse provides solid visibility. There are several different grille designs based on the trim selected. The Ranger’s cabin is simple and straightforward. The small instrument panel and minimal center console are a product of the truck’s small dimensions.

Available trim levels are XL, XLT, and Sport. The Ranger offers Regular Cab and SuperCab body styles. Both versions can be had in all three trims, while the SuperCab offers an available FX4 Off-Road trim.

The Ranger’s age really shows with the spartan XL trim. It has 15-inch steel wheels, an AM/FM stereo, and a 60/40 split-fold vinyl bench. This bench is cloth in the SuperCab version of the XL. The XLT upgrades the stereo to an AM/FM/CD/MP3 and adds an auxiliary audio jack. The XLT also adds chrome exterior trim and air conditioning. The Sport has many of the same features as the XLT and adds unique styling and a Class III trailer hitch. The FX4 Off-Road provides bucket seats, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a helpful storage console between the seats.

Performance

7/ 10

There are three engines offered on the 2008 Ranger; a four-cylinder and two V6 options. The base 2.3-liter inline-four makes 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. A 3.0-liter V6 puts out 148 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. This is a prime case of “bad, OK, and good,” where the four-cylinder is woefully underpowered and the 3.0-liter V6 engine is slightly better thanks to its torque rating. If you can, spring for the 4.0-liter V6, which makes decent power for getting up to speed. When properly equipped, the Ranger can tow 6,000 pounds.

The Ranger is offered with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, sending power to the rear wheels or available four-wheel drive (4WD). The FX4 Off-Road beefs-up the Ranger with heavy-duty shocks, a limited-slip rear differential, added underbody skid plates, and 16-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Form and Function

6/ 10

Ford offers the Ranger in Regular Cab and SuperCab body styles. The Regular Cab is as advertised, with seating for three thanks to the front bench. The SuperCab features rear half-doors that require opening the front door to operate. The SuperCab’s second-row jump-seats are quite small and not ideal for full-size adults. Between the rear jump seats and front bench, the SuperCab and seat up to five passengers, though it’ll be quite cramped.

The Ranger offers 6-foot and 7-foot bed sizes. The SuperCab only comes with the 6-foot bed, while the Regular Cab is offered in both bed sizes.

Tech Level

4/ 10

The standard stereo keeps things pretty basic, with just an AM/FM radio. The optional stereo adds a CD player, an MP3 player, and an auxiliary audio input. This is where the Ranger truly shows its age, as it lacks any additional tech features.

Safety

5/ 10

Standard safety features on the Ranger include seatbelt pre-tensioners, lower tire pressure warning, and antilock brakes. The Ranger also provides driver- and front-passenger airbags with a front-passenger occupancy sensor.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluation, the Ranger earns a five-star rating for front driver’s side crash testing. It earns four out of five stars for front passenger crash testing. The Ranger does not fare as well in testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It scores Average in Moderate Front Overlap and Roof Strength, Marginal in side testing, and Poor in head restraints.

Cost-Effectiveness

8/ 10

The most-efficient version of the 2008 Ford Ranger is the RWD version with the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. It returns 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. The 3.0-liter V6 truck with RWD returns 16/22/18. The least-efficient version of the truck is the 4.0-liter V6 with the five-speed automatic and 4WD. It returns 14/17/15.

The 2008 Ford Ranger has a starting price of $14,490, making it one of the most affordable trucks on the market today. A mid-level 4-wheel-drive Regular Cab XLT trim costs $19,870. A range-topping 4WD SuperCab FX4 Off-Road costs $24,350.

Updated

From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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