In today's world, everybody seems to want more: more salary, more time, and more bang-for-the-buck. Ford isn't offering a solution on how to line your wallet with more greenbacks, but with the substantively updated '01 Ranger, it's offering you more power, more comfort, more trim groups, and a fresh look to help get you through the day.
Although the Ranger has been the best-selling truck in its class for 13 years, much of it was tossed in favor of an even better package. Most notable in the new-for-'01 department are more aggressive front body panels. The previous Ranger's fairly conservative front nose has been replaced with a bold new grille, headlights, and side marker lights, all integrated with a new front bumper and fascia. A new "power dome" hood gives the '01 Ranger some 'tude and is one of only a few metal body panels on the entire truck.
Ford's also cooked up a new "Edge" styling package targeted at a more youthful market. Edge upgrades include a 4x4-like ride height, a special front fascia with integrated driving lights, rear bed railing, different taillights, more basic interior accommodations (read: more affordable to younger buyers), as well as youthful Edge-only monochromatic colors.
Underhood, the revamped Ranger is optionally available with a new 4.0L SOHC V-6 that not only pumps out 47 more horsepower (207 hp/238 lb-ft) than last year's 4.0L OHV engine, but complies with low-emission vehicle requirements a full three years ahead of the government's mandated schedule. This "new" V-6 has been offered in the Explorer since 1997. It runs smoother at idle, and Ford claims it will generate about 1 mpg better fuel economy than the previous 4.0L.
The added power was very welcome as we put both a Ranger Edge and an XLT 4x4 through their paces; our wheeltime included off-road desert conditions and high-altitude road driving. Ranger's new 5R55E five-speed automatic is smoother than the previous 4R55E four-speed auto, but helps improve acceleration. New "adaptive shifting" computer programming now determines transmission phasing (shift firmness and what gears are used or skipped) based on driving conditions. An easy-to-operate five-speed manual gearbox remains standard.