The full-size F-150 may be the best-selling vehicle in Canada and the United States, but when Ford surveyed its customers to see what they wanted in a truck, high on the list was something that’s easy to manoeuvre and park.
While it’s marginally larger than the one it replaces, the 2024 Ford Ranger should still appeal to shoppers looking for those qualities and more. We got an up-close look at it, although we’ve yet to get behind the wheel. What we saw was more features, new styling, new engines, and – likely the most-anticipated of all – a Ranger Raptor version as well.
Shaking Up a Sleepy Segment
The redesigned Ranger is part of a much-needed update in this segment, which was feeling stale overall but has since seen a shakeup. The Nissan Frontier was redesigned for 2022; the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are getting the same treatment this year; and even the segment stalwart Toyota Tacoma is getting a new look for 2024.
The 2024 Ranger rides on a new frame that’s 50 mm (two in) longer and has its front axle pushed forward compared to before, which gives it a better off-road approach angle. The outgoing Ranger is available in cab-and-a-half configuration as well as the more popular crew cab, but as with the freshly-made-over General Motors (GM) models, the 2024 version solely features four full doors. Just as before, the Ranger continues on by featuring standard four-wheel drive in Canada. (In the U.S. it’s offered with the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.)
A global truck that’s built in five factories worldwide, its styling is influenced by the full-size F-150, including its grille bar with blue-oval logo, C-shaped headlights, front fender vents, and sculpted tailgate. Unlike its big brother, the Ranger’s design includes available integrated side steps for easier access to the bed. GM’s had this sort of simple and convenient solution in the bumpers of its trucks for a while now, but the Ranger’s are fender-mounted behind the rear wheels. They’re wide enough to get both feet in, and can handle up to 136 kg (300 lb) of person.
The Right Kind of Utility
The wheels are now farther apart, so the ubiquitous sheet of plywood will fit inside. Once you’re working on a project, the tailgate edge includes a ruler and clamp-accommodating pockets, just like the F-150, and a bed-mounted 120-volt outlet is offered.
Maximum towing capacity is 3,402 kg (7,500 lb), the same as the current truck, while payload tops out at 776 kg (1,711 lb). Ford’s so-called Pro-Trailer Backup Assist system will be offered, which uses a dial to steer the truck in the right direction, along with an integrated brake controller, trailer light check, blind-spot monitoring that includes the trailer, and 360-degree camera views with trailer guidance.
Inside, the cabin mostly retains its overall styling, but with new seats and more soft-touch materials. The centre screens are 10.1- or 12 inches, depending on trim, and come with the latest version of Ford’s operating system that includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and voice control that’s supposed to better recognize natural speech.
Old and New Under the Hood
The Ranger’s base engine remains the same: a turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder that makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. New for 2024 – and available later in the year – is a 2.7L twin-turbo V6 borrowed from the F-150 as well as the Ford Bronco, making 315 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Both mate to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The third in the engine trifecta is a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 that makes 405 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. It will be between the rails of the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor. This model also takes its styling cues from the full-size F-150 Raptor with its wide grille and huge Ford logo, 89-mm (3.5-in) wider stance, unique front fenders and box sides, and 17-inch wheels with 33-inch tires that can be optioned to beadlock-capable rims.
The bigger engine is matched to a Raptor-specific suspension. It features Fox live-valve internal-bypass shocks, unique control arms, rear Watts link suspension to reduce lateral movement, and a reinforced undercarriage. The front and rear differentials lock, but there’s no disconnecting sway bar; as a Ford rep pointed out, this is meant to be a desert racer, not a rock crawler. As with the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger version has an orange-accented interior, and comes loaded up with the larger centre screen, bolstered seats, auxiliary switches for adding off-road lights or other accessories, and a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters and orange centre marker.
Of course, everything will come down to how the 2024 Ranger and Ranger Raptor drive, but if performance is as good as they look, they should make Ford’s midsize a considerable contender in this fresh-faced segment. If you’re in the market for a Ford truck but the F-150 is too big and the Maverick too small, the Ranger may well be just right.
Expect the 2024 Ford Ranger to go on sale in late summer, starting in Canada at $43,320 for the Ranger and $79,900 for the Raptor, both including a non-negotiable $2,095 delivery fee.