Ford’s mid-size Ranger pickup is squeezed between a rock and a hard place. The rock, in this scenario, is Ford’s best-selling F-Series pickup. With a wide array of trim levels and options packages, even a well-equipped 4×4 F150 can undercut a fully-loaded Ranger in price. The Ranger’s hard place is the all-new Maverick compact truck. With a smaller footprint and optional hybrid powertrain, the Maverick may provide urban explorers all the capabilities they need. But that doesn’t mean the Ranger doesn’t have its own value to offer, and Ford has given the 2021 Ranger an extra dose of rugged appeal.
This 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor is surprisingly the first Ranger we’ve tested in Limited Slip Blog’s nine year history. The fourth-generation Ranger debuted to the US market in Fall, 2018. Powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque, the Ranger is sprightlier than its competition. The broad torque curve is both beneficial to daily driving and towing up to its class-leading 7,500 pounds. The 10-speed automatic transmission doesn’t feel quite as polished as it does in the 2021 Ford Expedition but handles picking the right gear without giving an impression of over-shifting. Visibility is above average and the controls feel suitably truckish.
Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is available through the 8-inch touchscreen and dual productivity screens in the gauge cluster. What was commonplace on Ford dashboards in 2018 now feels like ancient history. The system works as advertised, but even Toyota’s aging Tacoma has had an infotainment refresh in recent years. Midsize trucks aren’t known as a technology-rich platform, but the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport‘s SYNC 3 system gets much larger and more customizable interfaces and the 2021 Ford F150‘s massive SYNC 4 screen is a delight to use. The only technology bright spot is Ford’s inclusion of standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, lake keep assist with lane-departure warning, and blind spot and reverse sensing system with trailer coverage on XLT and Lariat trims. Our Lariat tester also includes standard adaptive cruise control.
In a bid to boost the Ranger’s off-road credibility, Ford has introduced the $4,290 Tremor Package. The Tremor starts with all the standard features of the FX4 Off-Road Package; frame mounted steel front bash plate and skid plates, rear locking differential and Ford’s Terrain Management System with four drive modes. On top of that, Ford adds a lifted suspension with off-road tuned FOX monotube dampers and rear piggyback reservoirs, specially tuned front coilover and rear multi leaf springs and 32-inch Continental General Grabber A/TX all-terrain tires. This gives the Ranger Tremor a wider stance, more ground clearance, increased suspension travel and greater approach, departure and breakover angles. With the upgraded suspension and extra-capable tires, this is the most off-road capable Ranger ever brought to the US. Visually, the Tremor Package adds dark alloy wheels, bumpers and matching grille with red-accented grille inserts. The truck also comes standard with hoop-style side steps. Inside, Tremor-specific seat trim with suede inserts and embroidered logos set the cabin apart. On the whole, the Tremor Pacakge adds definite capability and visual ruggedness to the platform. Some of the Limited Slip crew even warmed to the Cyber Orange hue of our test vehicle.
The Ranger Tremor’s brawny looks, thanks to its raised ride height and meaty all-terrain tires, are backed up by improved capabilities. The four-wheel-drive system with locking rear differential and increased suspension travel mean this mid-size truck will handily out-crawl any “rugged” compact SUV. Plus the Ranger’s smaller footprint means it can traverse tighter spots on the trail, areas that the full-size F150 might struggle. If it wasn’t for a dated interior, this truck would feel nearly new. But an all-new Ranger is on its way in the next two years, meaning we won’t have to wait long to finally try a Ranger Raptor.
|2021 Ford Ranger Supercrew Lariat 4×4||$38,785|
|Equipment Group 501A||$2,005|
|Tremor Off-Road Package||$4,290|
|Bedliner – Toughbed Spray-In||$495|
|Trailer Tow Package||$495|
|Securicode Keyless Keypad||$95|