Old, tired and completely outclassed by its competition, the 2006 Ford Ranger only deserves a look if you're content with a cheap price and passable performance.
After years of serving as a trim designation on the F-Series pickup, the Ford Ranger became a separate model when it replaced the Mazda-supplied Courier pickup with an in-house design in 1983. The Ranger quickly became the best-selling compact pickup and has dominated the segment ever since.
Today's Ford Ranger still rides on the same basic platform and structure as that 1983 original, though substantial revisions for 1989, 1993 and 1998 have kept the Ranger competitive. Demographically, buyers range widely, with Rangers serving for work, play or both. A wide range of trim levels and features makes it easy to configure the Ford truck according to your needs, unless of course you want a crew cab. The Ranger is still offered only in regular- and extended-cab (SuperCab) body styles.
After all these years, the Ford Ranger is still a decent truck for light-duty work needs, but competitors offer more spacious interiors and more refined driving dynamics. The Ranger does hold its own off-road when equipped with one of the FX4 packages. The cabin offers a user-friendly control layout, and the seats are acceptably comfortable, particularly with the optional leather upholstery. Out on the road, though, the Ranger's age becomes apparent. Acceleration is adequate on trucks equipped with the 207-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine, but ride quality, handling and braking are at the bottom of the class. Given that many competitors have recently redesigned the compact trucks in their lineups, the Ranger's over 20-year-old design just doesn't cut it anymore. Unless you're a die-hard Ford truck fan, we would recommend taking a pass on the 2006 Ford Ranger.
The 2006 Ford Ranger is available in regular- or extended-cab (called SuperCab) body styles. Regular cabs can be ordered with either a 6- or a 7-foot bed. SuperCabs come only with a 6-footer and can be equipped with reverse-opening rear access doors. Trim levels include XL, STX, XLT, Sport and FX4. The XL is basic -- cloth upholstery and an AM\/FM radio are among the few amenities. The STX and XLT are the next step up, and they're your ticket to the Power Equipment Group, which offers keyless entry and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Sport has body-color bumpers, while the XLT gets a more traditional chrome finish. Both have a CD player, but the Sport version is MP3-compatible. A Tremor package gets its name from its 510-watt Pioneer stereo system. Two versions of the FX4 are available: Off-Road and Level II. The Off-Road package includes heavy-duty shocks, skid plates, tow hooks, 16-inch all-terrain tires and a limited-slip rear axle. The Level II gets a Torsen limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks, BF Goodrich all-terrain tires and Alcoa wheels.
The 2006 Ford Ranger pickup is a decent performer when equipped with the 4.0-liter V6, but it tends to feel underpowered with the 3.0-liter V6 or the base four-cylinder, especially if you get the automatic transmission. Rangers are quite capable off-road, especially when equipped with one of the FX4 packages. Ride and handling characteristics on pavement are tolerable, but when driven back-to-back with newer offerings from Dodge, GM, Nissan and Toyota, the Ranger's age shows.
Three engine choices are available on the 2006 Ford Ranger. The base engine is a 2.3-liter inline four with 143 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. Next up is a 3.0-liter V6 rated for 148 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the engine chart is a 4.0-liter overhead-cam V6 rated for 207 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque. Properly equipped, a 4.0-liter Ranger can tow up to 5,740 pounds. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, and most models offer a choice of two- or four-wheel drive.
The Ford Ranger comes standard with four-wheel antilock brakes. Side airbags are not available. Two-wheel-drive SuperCabs received four stars (out of five) in NHTSA frontal- and side-impact crash tests. Regular-cab models earned a five-star side-impact rating.
Controls are easy to find and use, and the available white-faced gauges add a little extra style. SuperCabs can be equipped with small jump seats in the rear, suitable only for children or small adults.
Multiple trim levels and options, functional interior, solid off-road capability.
Dated platform, weak engines, choppy ride, lack of modern features and amenities, no crew-cab body style or side airbags.