2024 Ford Ranger XLT
2024 Ford Ranger XLT

Consumer Guide Automotive

One of the primary benefits of a midsize truck is its size. Whether you need to fit it in your garage, or wend your way along a narrow trail, the smaller truck has a lot of advantages over a full-size pickup–assuming you don’t need to tow heavy stuff.

The 2024 Ford Ranger is the last of the current-generation midsize trucks to get a complete overhaul, and it’s a doozy. From garability to trailability, this next-gen midsize Ford gets a serious update for ’24, and offers trim levels, equipment packages, and price points to suite most truck shoppers’ needs.

2024 Ford Ranger XLT
2024 Ford Ranger XLT

Let’s start with the powertrains. The 2024 Ford Ranger carries over Ford’s “EcoBoost” 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder powerplant, which is rated at 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This engine is smooth and strong, and does well in stop-and-go driving. There is some lag in power delivery in highway driving—for passing and merging–however, but it’s not pronounced.

If you’re looking for a little more muscle, there’s now an up-level 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine that delivers 315 horsepower and a healthy 400 pound-feet of torque. This engine will be available starting on the XLT trim level, but at the time of this writing Ford hadn’t announced when it would come to market, or what the cost add would be.

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2024 Ford Ranger Lariat
2024 Ford Ranger Lariat

Now, if you want the ult in Ranger powertrains, you’ll have to go all in with the Ranger Raptor.

The off-road ready Raptor boats a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 that delivers 405 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Based on my limited exposure to the Raptor, I can say it’s a blast to drive in off-road situations, and will bring a smile to your face when executing on-road passing maneuvers. Plus, that exhaust note when you toggle over into Sport mode gets a chef’s kiss.

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2024 Ford Ranger Lariat
2024 Ford Ranger Lariat

One of the biggest areas of improvement (in my book) is to the interior. The previous generation Ranger felt old, cheap, and dated when it was brand spanking new in the U.S. in 2019. But though this new-generation Ranger has been out for a year in other parts of the world, it’s still a breath of fresh air in the segment.

Scraping my nails over the dashboard no longer gives me an icky chalkboard feeling, and even though you get cloth seats on the base XL model, they look and feel sturdy rather than cheap.

The updated cabin includes clever features like a dash tray for your phone, two glove boxes, as well as under-seat storage in the 2nd row, and fold-flat seatbacks for large boxes.

Another nice feature is the available 12-inch vertical screen with large high-def camera screens, an available around-view camera, and full-screen navigation capability.

Regardless of seating materials or dash accents–and regardless of trim level–the last thing I’d call this 2024 Ford Ranger is cheap.  There are also a couple of really cool features that set this midsize truck apart from the rest of the segment.

First, let’s talk about the available Zone Lighting. We’ve seen this on both the F-150 and the F-250, but this is the first time we see it on Ranger. Activated through the in-vehicle touchscreen or the available FordPass App, this feature allows you to light up different areas around the vehicle–which is awesome if you need to work in the dark or arrive at your campsite after the sun has set.

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2024 Ford Ranger Raptor
2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

However, one of my new favorite features has to be the standard Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Trailer Reverse Guidance. I don’t tow, and I’m definitely not backing a boat into water on the regular. So, when Ford set up an exercise backing up a trailer with its new system and a competitive midsize truck, I thought: How hard could it be? Turns out, really flipping hard.

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2024 Ford Ranger Raptor
2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

I started trying to back up the trailer in a 2024 Toyota Tacoma, and if cones were people, let’s just say we’d have a mass casualty situation. You have to turn your wheel to the left to go right and vice versa. Plus, the littlest twist of the wheel creates a huge direction change for the trailer–often in the opposite direction you intended. Granted, I’m a neophyte tower. But still.

When I swapped over into the 2024 Ford Ranger, I ended up looking like a pro. Instead of steering with the wheel, there’s a dial you use on the console. And, get this, when you turn it to the right, the trailer (gasp) goes to the right. It was so intuitive. I still had to move slowly, but I could see how this would make backing up with a trailer so much easier.

With the update, Ranger is promoted to the Raptor club, which already includes Ford’s Bronco SUV and F-150 full size pickup. The off-road-ready Ranger competes directly with such midsize-truck models as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, and GMC Canyon AT4X. And though the Ranger Raptor costs more than those trucks, it’s still competitively priced, starting at $57,065—this given the Raptor’s nearly 100-horsepower advantage over the Chevy and GMC.

This new Ranger Raptor has a lot of cool tech and is a blast to drive off road. During our half-day experience at the Raptor Assault school in Salt Lake City, Utah, we pushed the rugged off-roader through its paces on a rocky mountain pass, through high-plains desert terrain at high speeds, and, yes, over a jump. While you definitely feel the jostle served up by the rugged terrain, most of the roughest bumps are smoothed out. And, when I went through the jump exercise, I didn’t feel like I left the ground because the landing was, well, uneventful.

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor
2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

The Ranger Raptor includes drive modes that range from Rock Crawl to Baja to Slippery, with best-case use scenarios for each. We used Rock Crawl and Baja the most during our drive experience. And when you hit the off-road button, the front-facing camera pops up on the infotainment screen, showing the track your front tires will hit. This is super helpful on rocky terrain to ensure you don’t slice a tire on a pointy bit.

What is truly special about this truck, however, is the on-road drivability. You might think the road noise from the beefy 33-inch tires would be overwhelming–but it isn’t. The Raptor is actually remarkably quiet. Plus, with the 405-horsepower, 3.0-liter engine, the Ranger Raptor can move. Acceleration is peppy, and the sport exhaust–when you toggle over to Sport mode–is aggressively throaty.

While the regular Ranger is a nice midsize truck that will do truck things while still fitting in your garage, the Ranger Raptor is pure delight. And it will still fit in your garage.

One of the only misses I found in my brief time with the 2024 Ford Ranger was the gear selector. Ford equips the entry-level XL and XLT models with a different shifter, and I am cool with it. In the Lariat and Raptor however, the selector is more of a nudge/slide mechanism, and the button to engage shifting is at the top of the handle rather than on the side—where it is commonly found.

This drove me nuts, as I was constantly toggling into manual-shift mode, when I really just wanted to put the vehicle into drive. Another journalist on the drive said he kept hitting the shift button thinking it was “park.” Granted, this is a muscle memory issue that owners would (eventually) get used to. But it was so unintuitive. I don’t think I hit that button correctly once in the 24 hours I was driving it.

A lot of people will tell you the 2024 Ford Ranger is overpriced, but when you compare apples to apples, the Ford truck offers more power and more standard amenities that its target competition for roughly $3000 more money. The value seems to be there.

The trim-level/price breakdown for 4X2 models, including destination, is as follows per the consumer website configurator:

  • XL: $34,265 (+$3,645 for the 4X4)
  • XLT: $37,205 (+$3,485 for the 4X4)
  • Lariat: $45,225 (+$3,485 for the 4X4)
  • Raptor: $57,065 (4X4 only)

Note that for 2024, all Rangers, regardless of trim level, comes exclusively in 4-door crew cab configuration with a 5-foot bed.

The 2024 midsize truck segment is the hottest it’s ever been, and frankly, there are no bad choices right now. Overall, the 2024 Ford Ranger is a solid win for Ford Motor Co. While I think the design of the new Toyota Tacoma is better, the drivability and range of functionality offered by the Ranger is better. Plus, there’s the Raptor.

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2024 Ford Ranger Lariat
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