1983 to 2011: Ford Ranger
When it launched for the 1983 model year, the Ford Ranger served as the replacement for the Mazda-supplied Ford Courier. This truck was also sold as the Mazda B-Series throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s.
The first-generation Ford Ranger was manufactured from 1983 to 1992. The second-generation Ranger was built from 1993 to 2011. Throughout its 19-year model run, the second-generation Ranger was offered as a regular cab, seating two or three people, as well as an extended cab with a pair of jump seats in the back.
Upon its introduction, the second-generation Ford Ranger rolled out the first flareside cargo box in the compact pickup truck segment. Sold as the Ranger Splash, it was available with both rear- and four-wheel drive versions of the truck. Its bed length measured 6 feet, same as the short-bed Ranger. Long-bed models measured 7 feet in length. Ford canceled the Splash after 1998.
From 1993 to 1997, the base Ford Ranger was powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Ford also offered a 3.0-liter V6 engine and paired it with the same transmission choices.
For 1994, Ford rolled out a third engine, a 4.0-liter V6, and beginning in 1997 a transmission upgrade made a five-speed automatic available.
Starting in 1995, a driver’s front air bag became standard and anti-lock brakes were made available for four-wheel drive models. For 1996, an optional passenger-side air bag was offered.
The Ford Ranger received a substantial update two years later, as the wheelbase for the regular-cab model was extended to make the cab 3 inches longer. Ford also replaced the base engine with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
Beginning in 2001, Ford introduced an all-new 4.0-liter V6, switching from an overhead valve layout to an overhead cam design. The automaker also introduced a new 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine in 2001, replacing the previous 2.5-liter engine.
From 2009 to 2011, Ford offered the Ranger with the base engine and the larger V6, having dropped the smaller V6 after 2008.
In its latter years, Ford offered various special edition Ranger models, including FX4 trim and off-road packages. The FX4 came originally equipped with 31-inch all-terrain tires, forged wheels and Bilstein shock absorbers.
Ford Ranger buyers might also consider competing models such as the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.