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2021 Ford Ranger Review

The 2021 Ford Ranger finishes in the top half of our compact pickup truck rankings. With a good tow rating, easy-to-use features, and comfortable seats, this truck does almost everything well.

Pros & Cons

  • High towing and hauling capacities
  • Potent engine and composed handling
  • Good gas mileage
  • Uninspiring cabin
  • Firm ride

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Ford Ranger's #2 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Pickup Trucks category. Currently the Ford Ranger has a score of 7.6 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 20 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 6.4
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.0 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Ford Ranger?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Ford Ranger a Good Truck?

Yes, the Ford Ranger is a good truck. It has a powerful engine, handles well, and gets good gas mileage. The Ranger is a solid off-roader, and its towing and hauling capacities are good for the class. Inside, the seats are comfortable, and SuperCrew models have more rear-seat space than many competitors. There are plenty of user-friendly features available as well.

2021 Ford Ranger Dimensions and Weight

  • Length: 17 feet, 7 inches
  • Height: 5 feet, 11 inches to 6 feet
  • Curb weight: 4,145 to 4,441 pounds
Why You Can Trust Us: 20 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Ranger review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2019.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

Should I Buy the Ford Ranger?

You should definitely consider the Ranger if you're in the market for a compact pickup truck. It may not lead the class in many areas, but it's in the top half in just about everything. That makes it one of the most well-rounded choices available, and when you factor in this Ford's reasonable price tag, it's easy to see that the Ranger is a solid value proposition.

Find a 2021 Ford Ranger for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Ford Ranger: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Ford Ranger is basically the same as the 2020 Ranger, with one exception: There's a new Tremor off-road package that you can add. It boosts the Ranger's off-road abilities with a plethora of features such as a lifted suspension, off-road tires, skid plates, a locking rear differential, and more.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Ranger »

Here are the key changes for the Ford Ranger over the last few years:

  • 2019: reintroduced after several-year hiatus
  • 2020: FX2 off-road package became available
  • 2021: new Tremor off-road package

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2019 Ranger and 2020 Ranger reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Ford Ranger Cost?

The Ranger XL sports a base price of around $25,000. That's a little below average for the compact pickup truck class. The midlevel Ranger XLT starts at around $29,000, while the range-topping Ranger Lariat carries a starting price of about $33,000. That's a bit less than most rivals' top-trim prices.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

Ford Ranger Versus the Competition

Ford Ranger vs. Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger finish neck and neck in our compact pickup truck rankings. The Toyota comes standard with a touch-screen infotainment system, which is an extra-cost option in the Ford. Though the Ranger offers off-road packages, the Tacoma has two entire trim levels dedicated to tackling adventurous terrain, and the top-of-the-line TRD Pro model is one of the most formidable off-roaders in the class. The Ranger's turbo-four engine is superior to the Tacoma's base four-cylinder, and the Ford can tow and haul more. But unlike the Ranger, the Taco offers a muscular V6.

Compare the Ranger and Tacoma »

Ford Ranger vs. Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevrolet Colorado offers more engine options than the Ranger, including a V6 and a turbodiesel. It can also tow a little more than the Ranger, though the Ford has a higher max payload. Inside, the Colorado looks and feels more upscale than the Ranger, and it comes standard with a touch-screen infotainment system. In its Crew Cab body style, the Colorado is available with a full-size bed, whereas the Ranger only offers its SuperCrew configuration with a short bed. The Chevrolet, however, earns a much lower predicted reliability rating, which is one of the main reasons it places below the Ford in our rankings.

Compare the Ranger and Colorado »

Compare the Ranger, Tacoma, and Colorado »

Ranger Performance: Easy and Enjoyable to Drive

Ranger Engine

The Ranger features a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The engine provides quick acceleration, and there's almost no turbo lag. It also feels plenty powerful when the Ranger is towing or hauling. The transmission shifts smoothly and rarely has to hunt for the correct gear.

Ranger Gas Mileage

Most class rivals can't match the Ranger's fuel economy ratings. With rear-wheel drive, this Ford gets 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. With four-wheel drive, ratings drop to 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Ranger Ride and Handling

This Ford rides more stiffly than some other compact pickups, but the suspension soaks up most road imperfections without disturbing occupants. This truck is more fun to drive than many rivals thanks to its sharp steering and poised handling, and some say it feels more like driving a crossover SUV than a truck.

Ranger Off-Road Performance

The Ranger can't keep up with some of the elite off-roaders in the class, like the Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, but it's fairly capable in off-road situations. Instead of an off-road specialty trim, the Ranger lets you add option packages that include features like an off-road-tuned suspension, special off-road tires, a locking rear differential, skid plates, a terrain management system, and crawl control.

If off-roading is a high priority for you, you'll want to add the FX2, FX4, or Tremor package, with the Tremor package providing the most capability of the three.

Ranger Hauling and Towing Capacity

The standard extended-cab SuperCab Ranger comes with a 6-foot bed, while the crew-cab SuperCrew model has a 5-foot bed. Payload capacities range from 1,560 to 1,860 pounds, the latter of which leads the class by a long shot. For the most utility, go with a SuperCab model and rear-wheel drive.

The Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds, which places it among the class leaders in that regard. The Chevrolet Colorado and its 7,700-pound limit is one of a few compact pickup trucks that can tow more than the Ranger.

Read more about performance »

Ranger Interior: With the Right Upgrades, It's Pretty Inviting

Ranger Cargo Space

The Ford Ranger comes with a 6-foot bed in SuperCab models and a 5-foot bed in SuperCrew models.

How Many People Does the Ranger Seat?

The Ford Ranger seats four people in the SuperCab model and five in the SuperCrew. The front seats are roomy and delightfully comfortable. The driver sits up high, affording them a commanding view ahead. SuperCab models have confining rear seats that are mostly for show. SuperCrew models, however, have more back-seat space than some competitors provide, and adults can comfortably ride back there.

Ranger and Child Car Seats

With both cabs, the Ranger has two complete sets of LATCH connections for the rear outboard seats. Lower anchors in the SuperCab are on a panel behind the rear seats. In the SuperCrew model, the attachments are in the seat cushion where the bottom meets the backrest. SuperCab models have two upper tether anchors that are located above the backrest of the seat. The Ranger SuperCrew has three tether anchors in the form of brackets behind the seats.

Ranger Interior Quality

The Ranger's cabin doesn't look as stylish or modern as some rival interiors. Materials quality is OK for the class, but you won't confuse this for a luxury vehicle, as there are plenty of hard plastics sprinkled about.

Ranger Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Ranger's standard features list is pretty paltry, and you'll want to upgrade. The voice-activated SYNC system is decent, but it has a small display and pales in comparison to rival systems. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is the one you want. It has an intuitive interface and a large, responsive touch screen. There are also physical controls for some functions.

  • Standard infotainment features: a USB port, Bluetooth, four speakers, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: a 4.2-inch display, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a six- or 10-speaker audio system, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, satellite radio, HD Radio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, and push-button start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Ranger Reliability

Is the Ford Ranger Reliable?

The 2021 Ranger has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Ford Ranger Warranty

Ford covers the Ranger with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Ranger Safety

Ranger Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Ford Ranger an overall safety rating of four out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test, four stars in the frontal crash test, and three stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2021 Ranger, but the nearly identical 2020 Ranger SuperCrew earned the highest rating of Good in five of the six IIHS crashworthiness tests. It earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

Ranger Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • MyKey (lets you set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers)
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking

Available advanced safety features:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Cruise control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert with trailer coverage

Read more about safety »

Where Is the 2021 Ford Ranger Built?

Ford builds the 2021 Ranger in Michigan.

Which Ford Ranger Model Is Right for Me?

When buying a truck, you don't choose a trim first. Instead, you figure out which cab and bed combo you need, and then you pick a trim (because not every trim offers each cab/bed combo). The four-person SuperCab (extended cab) comes with a 6-foot bed and short, rear-hinged rear doors, while the five-person SuperCrew cab has a 5-foot bed and four full-size doors. We've listed the three trims below with the starting prices for rear-wheel-drive SuperCab models.

You can upgrade the drivetrain and cab in any configuration. Regardless of the trim, it'll cost you about $4,000 for four-wheel drive and around $2,200 for a SuperCrew cab.

Once you've made your body style and drivetrain decisions, it's time to select a trim. The 2021 Ford Ranger comes in three trims: XL, XLT, and Lariat. All Ranger models feature a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Most buyers will want the XLT trim. It comes with many more standard features than the base trim provides, including the user-friendly SYNC 3 infotainment system and its 8-inch touch screen. The XLT also offers comfort and convenience features that aren't available in the base XL trim, like power-adjustable and heated front seats.

Ford Ranger Powertrain Options:

  • Base engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Ford Ranger Appearance Packages:

Note: Adding some of these packages may require a combination of other packages.

  • STX package (prices start at $995; available in XL): 17-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels and premium cloth four-way black seats, fog lamps, and tow hooks
  • XL Chrome Appearance package (prices start at $365): fog lamps, black tow hooks, body-color wheel-lip molding, and chrome front and rear bumpers
  • XLT Chrome Appearance package (prices start at $1,170): 17-inch PDV wheels (or available 18-inch PDV wheels) and a chrome finish for the grille, bumpers, exhaust tip, door handles, tailgate handle, and tow hooks
  • Lariat Chrome Appearance package (prices start at $895): 18-inch PDV wheels and a chrome finish for the bumpers, exhaust tip, tow hooks, door handles, tailgate handle, and mirror caps
  • Black Appearance package (prices start at $1,090; available in XLT and Lariat): 18-inch black painted aluminum wheels with black center cap, a spray-in bed liner, a black finish for the grille and surround (XLT only), black mirror caps (Lariat only), black sill plates, a black steel exposed bash plate (with FX4 Off-Road package), a body-color front bumper with black lower fascia, and running boards
  • Sport Appearance package (prices start at $895; available in XLT and Lariat): a sport box decal and black grille with a magnetic-colored finish for the surround, bumpers, wheel lip moldings, and 17-inch aluminum wheels (or available 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with magnetic-colored pockets)

Ford Ranger Work Packages/Options:

  • Bed Utility package (prices start at $395; available in all trims): adds a drop-in bed liner and a 12-volt power outlet in the bed
  • Trailer Tow package (prices start at $495; available in all trims): adds a Class IV trailer hitch receiver and a four-pin/seven-pin wiring harness

Ford Ranger Trims:

Ford Ranger XL

The Ranger XL sports a base price of around $25,000. Standard features include cloth upholstery, a USB port, Bluetooth, four speakers, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Ford's MyKey system, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Vinyl upholstery is available for no extra charge.

An option package that's available for $1,135 adds cruise control and the SYNC connectivity system, which includes a 4.2-inch screen and a six-speaker audio system. For $625, the Ford Co-Pilot360 bundle adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

The FX2 package (available in rear-wheel-drive models for $595) adds a locking rear differential and an off-road suspension. The FX4 Off-Road package (available in four-wheel-drive models for $1,295) adds an off-road-tuned suspension, off-road tires, a locking rear differential, skid plates, a terrain management system, and crawl control.

Ford Ranger XLT

The Ranger XLT starts at around $29,000. In addition to the base trim's features, the XLT comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Also standard is the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

There's an option package ($2,450) that adds eight-way power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, and remote start. If you add another package, you have the option to add the Technology package ($995), which includes adaptive cruise control and navigation. The FX2 and FX4 packages are also available.

The new-for-2021 Tremor package ($4,290) adds all of the FX4 package's features, and it provides slightly more ground clearance, better approach and departure angles, a front bash plate, and upgraded shocks.

Ford Ranger Lariat

The Ranger Lariat carries a starting price of about $33,000. In addition to the lower trims' standard features, the Lariat comes with leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable and heated front seats, and front and rear parking sensors.

There's an option package ($2,005) that includes adaptive cruise control, navigation, and remote start. In SuperCrew models, this package also comes with HD Radio and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. You can also add the Tremor package.

Which Ranger Cab Style Is Right for Me?

There are two Ranger cab styles – the four-seat SuperCab (extended cab) and the five-seat SuperCrew (crew cab) – and choosing the right one boils down to how often you plan to have rear-seat passengers.

If you're regularly going to have more than one passenger, the SuperCrew is the better choice. Most adults will find the SuperCab's rear seats too small, and even some kids might feel cramped back there. On the other hand, the SuperCrew has much larger rear seats, and it's easy to get in and out of the back thanks to its full-size doors.

Which Ranger Bed Length Is Right for Me?

The Ranger comes with a 5-foot bed in SuperCrew models and a 6-foot bed in SuperCab models. Obviously, the longer bed gives you more utility, but it may not be worth the downgrade in cab size, as the SuperCab's rear seat doesn't provide enough space for most people to ride comfortably.

Which Ranger Model Is Best for Towing and Hauling?

There's no wrong choice when it comes to towing because every Ranger has the same 7,500-pound maximum towing capacity, as long as you add the optional tow package. That means you can pick either cab and bed combo without losing capability. Without the tow package, the Ranger can tow 3,500 pounds. With so little difference between capabilities, you should pick the model that gives you the right amount of passenger space and/or the right bed length.

You'll get the top payload capacity with the rear-wheel-drive SuperCab, which can haul up to 1,860 pounds. The four-wheel-drive SuperCab can haul up to 1,650 pounds. Numbers are slightly lower in the SuperCrew: 1,770 pounds in rear-wheel-drive models and 1,560 pounds in four-wheel-drive models.

Which Ranger Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

Unlike some trucks, the Ranger doesn't have a designated off-road trim. Instead, there are some option packages that provide additional features to make the Ranger more adventure-ready.

For starters, you'll want to add four-wheel drive. Then, you want to look to the FX4 and Tremor packages. The FX4 Off-Road package adds an off-road-tuned suspension, off-road tires, a locking rear differential, skid plates, a terrain management system, and crawl control.

The brand-new Tremor package adds even more capability. It has all the features of the FX4 package, and it provides slightly more ground clearance, better approach and departure angles, a front bash plate, and upgraded shocks. Note that the Tremor package isn't available in the base XL trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

See 2021 Ford Ranger specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Ford Ranger delivers on just about every front. It's powerful, capable, and relatively efficient, with intuitive tech features and a comfortable cabin. It's easy to see why such a well-rounded truck claims a spot in the top half of our compact pickup truck rankings. Factor in the Ranger's reasonable price tag, and you've got a vehicle that should appeal to most small truck shoppers.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "… while it may rarely be No. 1 in a particular area, it's also rarely much deeper than No. 2. Others have high highs and low lows, but the Ranger is steadily executed, which is primarily [the] reason it won our midsize truck comparison test. It's fun to drive on- and off-road, yet surprisingly comfortable. The cabin may be a bit dull in appearance, but it's functional and the quality is strong. Its unusual, standard turbocharged engine delivers ample power and above-average fuel economy. Basically, the 2021 Ford Ranger is a well-rounded truck that can stand toe-to-toe with any competitor." -- Autoblog
  • "The new Ford Ranger isn't a perfect midsize pickup. The interior isn't the best, the tailgate slams down when you open it, and there's only one engine option. But even so, the Ranger excels with its great power, best-in-class towing and payload and stellar fuel economy to boot. Taken as a whole, the Ranger really feels like the most well-rounded midsize truck available today." -- CNET (2019)
  • "With its responsive and powerful drivetrain, refined ride, and impressive towing and fuel economy numbers, the 2019 Ford Ranger disrupts the midsize pickup race between the Tacoma, Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline, and it might just lead the pack now. … Fancy stuff and all, the Ford Ranger is back and better than ever." -- Motor Trend (2019)
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