The 2024 Ford Ranger Finally Delivers on Its Baby F-150 Status

2024 ford ranger lariat fx4 first drive
Ford's Ranger Delivers on Its Jr. F-150 StatusLucas Bell

The return of the Ford Ranger pickup for the 2019 model year helped to reignite the mid-size truck battle here in the States. And while that outgoing machine was an aging global market product from the jump, FoMoCo is back with an all-new Ranger for the 2024 model year. Ford brought a fleet of trucks and journalists to the twisty roads that line Salt Lake City, Utah, to determine whether this refreshed, more capable Ford Ranger lineup has what it takes to dethrone segment stars like the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma.

The entire 2024 Ford Ranger lineup is based on Ford’s T6.2 platform, which currently serves duty under the full-size Bronco. That said, this is not simply a Bronco with a fresh face and a pickup bed dragging behind it. Ford has reworked the chassis specifically for Ranger duty, including a 2-inch wheelbase stretch over the outgoing model. The track width of the truck has also grown by two inches, helping to give the truck a more planted stance. Most of that wheelbase increase comes at the front of the vehicle, which helps make room for some larger powertrains.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder returns as the base powertrain, providing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 from the Bronco will be available at a later date, bringing a more potent 315 hp and 400 lb-ft to the XLT and Lariat models. The off-road-ready Ranger Raptor receives the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 from the Bronco Raptor, which makes 405 hp and 430 lb-ft in truck spec. Every Ford Ranger will come equipped with the automaker’s 10-speed automatic transmission. Every Ranger model moving forward will also feature the SuperCrew body style.

2024 ford ranger lariat fx4 first drive
Lucas Bell

Despite carrying over the same output ratings as the outgoing model, the new Ranger doesn’t feel outdated in the powertrain department. The small EcoBoost delivers its power in a smooth and progressive manner, with a wall of torque available from the low end of the rev range. The truck had no issue building speed on highway ramps, nor was it lacking for passing power at the posted speed limit. Part of that flexibility surely comes as a result of that 10-speed gearbox, which has plenty of well-spaced ratios to cycle through during any given scenario. While many will prefer the feel and power provided by the 2.7-liter V-6 when it arrives, early Ranger customers don't need to consider waiting for the big engine.


For comparison, the 2.7-liter four-cylinder found in the entry-level Chevy Colorado models is rated at 237 hp, whereas upper trims receive the same engine in 310 hp guise. That said, the Ranger is rated to tow more than the Colorado with its entry-level engine, with a maximum towing capacity of 7500 lbs when properly specced. The base model Colorado only musters a maximum rating of 3500 lbs, whereas the high-output models see that figure jump to 7700 lbs. The Ranger also receives the automaker’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system for the first time in 2024, which remains as straightforward and simple to use as it is in the larger trucks.

2024 ford ranger lariat fx4 first drive
Lucas Bell

Ford has also fitted the Ranger with a new rear suspension setup, which places the shocks outside of the frame rails for the first time. Up front, the truck employs a short-arm long-arm independent suspension layout, while the rear retains a solid rear axle with leaf springs. This change hasn’t completely removed the busy nature of an empty truck bed, but there is a notable improvement in comfort over the previous Ranger. It is also worth noting that both of R&T's test vehicles were outfitted with the FX4 Off-Road package, which brings unique shock tuning and a locking rear differential. The ride quality should be even better without the wheeling hardware installed.

That wider track and slightly longer wheelbase also help the truck feel very stable at all times, even when pushing it a bit harder than is probably advisable. The steering will make you feel confident enough to do that sort of driving, with direct and well-weighted inputs. The truck doesn’t feel floaty in its direction changes, and tracks confidently down the road without too much rear-end wiggle. The current steering wheel choice feels like it belongs in something more akin to a Focus, which does not fit the character of this truck.

2024 ford ranger lariat fx4 first drive
Lucas Bell

The rest of the interior is a classic Ford Truck affair. Ford is not hiding the influence that the F-150 lineup has had on the styling of this truck, with large horizontal planes and a familiar mix of textures and surfaces. The XLT tester came equipped with the brand’s smaller digital gauge cluster, with sizes ranging from 8 to 12.4 inches depending on the trim. The truck also employs a large center screen, which can be had in either a 10.1- or 12-inch configuration. The screens are easy to read and reserve the bottom portion for always-on climate control icons.

There is a nice mix of hard buttons inside as well, including the toggle for the various drive modes and transfer case controls. While the Lariat testers got some added niceties like leather-wrapped seats and a heated steering wheel, it was the XLT that really shined. The cloth seats were comfortable and featured a textured pattern to add some visual flair and body-hugging grip. If you can handle having a slightly smaller screen, you don’t lose out on much opting for the volume seller.

XLT customers will save some money, however. The XLT FX4 tester featured in this test carried an as-tested price of $45,345, which is just about in line with the larger F-150 STX. The Lariat was a notable amount more expensive, carrying an as-tested price of $52,525, which is more expensive than the popular F-150 XLT model. The capability on offer from the larger truck makes the Lariat a bit of a hard sell, unless of course size is a necessity.

The Maverick previously represented an interesting conundrum for outgoing Ranger customers, but this new Ranger is finally the baby F-150 we’ve been waiting for. Just don’t let Ford folkies hear you call it that.

ford ranger xlt and lariat 2024

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