Week Fourteen: The Ford Ranger

What vehicle is just as perfect for your sixteen-year-old irresponsible son as it is for your eighty-six year-old, stubborn workhorse of a father? One does exist—whoda thunk it. The Ford Ranger is a practical first and last truck. At both of those ages, concentration abilities are limited and distractions run rampant. The Ranger is as maneuverable as the Tonka truck your sixteen year old secretly wishes he could still play with. Turning into a tight parking spot ain’t no thing. With only one other passenger seat (unless you count the six inches that technically makes up the middle seat), a teenager isn’t going to be able to cart lots of friends around: that’s a plus for a worried parent. Watch out for teens in the bed of the truck, though, because at only about waist height it is easily accessible and very tempting to ride in.

The Yappy Little Brother

Throughout the week, Justin and I referred to the Ranger as the other trucks in the Ford family’s yappy little brother. Step on the gas and the little engine tries its hardest to give you all its got. But the acceleration sounds and feels like a little go-cart trying to prove itself to its owner, which makes it all the more adorable.

This isn’t a luxury truck though. Aside from a killer air conditioning system, the truck isn’t built for comfort, but it gets the job done. With absolutely no extra cab space, this is meant for that teenager or elderly man doing everyday things—throwing a gym bag or toolbox in the bed.

But there’s nothing wrong with the yappy little brother. You always know what to expect, and he is consistently trying to keep up with you. Justin advises not to honk the “wussy horn,” you might offend the little Ranger who, deep down, thinks he’s as big and bad as the Super Duty. But he makes up for his shortcomings with fabulous gas mileage.

The Ole’ Man Seal of Approval

Transporting some stuff to a friend’s garage sale, the grandpa (the tried and true opinion-giver of all the trucks we’ve driven), hopped in for a little ride. Five minutes later, he was ready to buy the truck…until he figured out it wasn’t four wheel drive. After a quick phone call to salesman Dick Watson, we found out that for $3,000 more, he could have one with four-wheel drive. He loved the size—at around five foot six one a good day, he was just the right height for loading the bed. He loved that only he and his wife could fit in the cab, because that’s the only people he ever drives around anyway, so why have extra unneeded seats?

While my grandpa gave the Ranger the Ole’ Man Seal of Approval, he presented a good question that many men could relate to—why buy the baby truck? Every man wants the biggest truck. But in his situation, and definitely for a teenager or college kid, the truck is the perfect size for light work, toodling around town, and still has a fully functional hitch and can pull some weight.

But, as I’ve learned about aging, it’s hard for him to imagine what’s not right in front of him. Virtual reality doesn’t mean it exists—ordering a different style online doesn’t make a lot of sense. What you see is what you get. So when the Ranger didn’t have four-wheel drive, it was immediately not the right fit—even though other Rangers have four-wheel drive. The “wow” factor was gone and just wasn’t coming back no matter how many times I explained that you could get it.

Ya just wanna shake it

The cutesy factor was definitely there in the truck. While sometimes in larger trucks you feel like you are hauling around a semi’s rear end, this was lighter and more manageable. Throughout the week I kept saying “I just wanna pick it up and shake it like a Tonka truck!” To compare, I feel the same away about punch buggies and little dogs. But don’t get me wrong, this is still a manly truck. Nothing beats a truck’s personality, even if it is the yappy little brother version.