The Ford Ranger debuted for the 1983 model year as the American automaker's newest light pickup. Many considered it to be almost a "mini" F-Series model due to the Ranger's similar styling and architecture. It was initially outfitted with a 2.0L OHC four-cylinder engine but a similar 2.3L configuration that kicked out 86 horsepower was also available. Other engine options included a 2.2L diesel and a more powerful 2.8L Cologne V6 capable of 115 horsepower. A few years later, a 2.9L V6 replaced the original and brought with it an extra 25 hp. A year later, Ford introduced the SuperCab, which was 17 inches longer. The SuperCab showed off more room inside the cab, as well as optional jump seats and power-enhancing underhood parts. Also in 1986, the Ranger GT rolled off the line. The GT was equipped with the Cologne V6 married to a five-speed manual transmission or A4LD automatic transmission. Other Ford Ranger accessories such as bucket seats, sway bars, and aluminum wheels rounded out the GT package. In 1989, the second-generation Ford Ranger premiered, featuring a notable redesign of the Ford Ranger parts, including new fenders, headlights, and revised front-end, with a new grille and hood. A new 4.0L V6 took over as the strongest engine, but eventually, a heftier 3.0L Vulcan V6 was brought in, demonstrating an extra kick in horsepower.
1993 ushered in another set of changes for the Ford Ranger. The exterior accessories were modified to display a more aerodynamic body with new fender flares. Inside, new seats were introduced. As for the engine options, a 2.3L inline four-cylinder, 3.0L V6, and a 4.0L V6 were offered. Making its way into the lineup in 1993 was the "Splash," a version of the Ranger that displayed a sportier presence thanks to aluminum wheels and a lowered suspension. In 1995, the Ford Ranger saw another redesign. A driver's side airbag (passenger air bags became optional a year later) and a new dash-panel were implemented. Four-wheel antilock brakes were now included standard on 4x4 Rangers. Towards the end of the '90s, the Ranger parts were redesigned once again. Considered the third generation of the truck, the Ford Ranger saw changes to every major department. A new 2.5L SOHC inline four-cylinder engine became standard, but it would only last until 2001, when a 2.3L Duratec inline four-cylinder took over. Also in 2001, such new Ford Ranger accessories as a revised grille, hood, headlights, and bumper were employed for the front while the taillights were refreshed in the back. Throughout the next few years, other restyling efforts would make their way to the Ranger, including an updated grille and new turn signals.
The current Ford Ranger is available in four trim levels: XL, XLT, Sport, and FX4 (off-road). Engines remain a base inline four-cylinder with a beefy 4.0L V6, while power is directed through a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission (V6 models are only equipped with the automatic transmission). The FX4 Ford Ranger is outfitted with 15" Alcoa wheels, Bilstein shocks, 31" Goodrich All-Terrain tires, skid plates, and limited-slip differential. During its time on the road, the Ford Ranger has been recognized for its utility, convenience, and versatile style. It was named a runner up for Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year award (1998) and named to Car and Driver's Ten Best List. The Ranger also received the distinction of being recognized as a Consumer Guide Best Buy (2005, 2006).
Ford's most underrated truck, the Ranger has begun to reassert itself into the driving consciousness. Serviceable and spacious, the Ranger has become a must-have for those drivers who want a go between and a full-size F Series model and a smaller, less dynamic light-truck. The Ranger gets the job done, as it incorporates enough ruggedness to let you know you're driving a Ford while also providing a compact, less intrusive machine to do your bidding in. The modern amenities are all here, and the body-style is typical Ford presence, authoritative and suggesting. A classic in its own right, the Ranger makes drivers proud.
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