2023 Ford Ranger Impresses In Very First Test Drive

2023 Ford Ranger
While America & Kansas City won't be getting the all-new next-generation Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor until 2023, other markets are already taking delivery.

While we here in America won’t be getting the all-new next-generation Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor until 2023, other markets are already taking delivery of the very first examples of the redesigned mid-size pickup. Thus, Motor1 was recently able to take a 2023 Ranger for a spin, giving us an early preview of what to expect from the brand new model.

2023 Ford Ranger

Mostly New

At this point, the Ranger is certainly long in the tooth and in need of a complete overhaul, and that’s precisely what Ford has done with this new model. It rides on the same T6 platform as its predecessor, but essentially everything else is new, and even that architecture has been updated significantly. That includes a much more angular, far more aggressive look than its predecessor.

2023 Ford Ranger

Steep Learning Curve

The interior is all-new as well, with a far more modern design and tech present. Motor1 found some good and some bad in the new setup, however. “The displays are quite legible and the contrast of colors makes the text pop, while the capacitive feature of the center touchscreen allows for quick responses. But just like most vertical infotainment systems that integrate most (if not all) controls into a hulking screen, the learning curve is steep.”

2023 Ford Ranger

Off-Road Performance

The real question, of course, is how the new Ranger drives. In terms of the special off-road course Ford had set up for journalists, it faired quite well. “The adjustments on the Ranger’s track and wheelbase allow for better parameters in relation to off-roading,” Motor1 said. “The water-wading course was unsurprisingly a cinch. The Ranger proved it’s at home on dirt more than ever with the help of technology.”

2023 Ford Ranger

Car-Like Ride

Following that stint off-road, the Ranger-driving team of journalists hit the curvy mountain roads nearby to see how the new pickup performed on the pavement. “The Ranger was easy to maneuver through the twisties of Krabi,” our reviewer noted. “The steering felt firm and decisive as well, promoting more confidence even through the tight corners of the mountain pass. On the highway and on provincial roads, I felt the Ranger’s ride refinement. The ride was car-like, as many journos used to say.”

2023 Ford Ranger

Lacking Grunt

The biggest problem with this particular tester, it seems, was its lack of power. “The Ranger Wildtrak I tested was powered by a bi-turbo 2.0-liter inline-four EcoBlue diesel engine, good for 210 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque,” our tester said. “There were moments when I had to overtake to keep up with the convoy, only to be met with a feeling of wanting more pull from the rear wheels. I felt the truck’s 5,000-pound weight during these attempts, which took a toll on the otherwise already powerful four-pot oil-burner.”

Still Shines

In spite of this lack of grunt and some frustrating UX features, the new Ranger shined pretty much everywhere else, our reviewer notes. “I can’t deny that the improvements on the latest Ford Ranger are met with relative success. Shortcomings notwithstanding, it sets the bar higher for its rivals – in terms of refinement, driving dynamics, off-road prowess, and technological advancements.”

Source: Ford Truck Enthusiasts

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