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2019 Ford Ranger vs. Tacoma, Colorado, and Frontier: What we know (or at least can guess)

Joel Stocksdale

One of the stars of the Detroit Auto Show is the Ford Ranger. It's been eagerly anticipated, and fans of the global version weren't let down. Ford shared several key details, and while it didn't go into specifics on many topics, we think we know enough that we can make some educated guesses on how potent and how big the Ranger will be. As such, we went ahead and looked at some key specs of its U.S. competition, the Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, to see how they all compare.

Note, we're using what we know about the Ranger's engine in comparison to existing Fords with the 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder, along with statements from Ford. We're also using the global-market Ranger for some size estimates, as the U.S. market model appears to be extremely similar to that truck. Also, seeing as Ford has only announced one engine, we're comparing it only to the V6 engines it will likely compete against. Finally, variations on numbers are due to configuration differences consisting of cab and bed type, as well as two- vs. four-wheel drive. Without further ado, here's the chart followed by deeper analysis.



Engines and TransmissionsThe Ford Ranger is quite unique in the small truck segment in that Ford has only announced one engine so far, and it's a turbocharged four-cylinder in a class dominated by naturally aspirated V6s. But Ford says the engine will provide class-leading numbers, particularly in torque, which is believable. The engine is a version of the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder in the Ford Mustang and the Focus RS. Don't expect the 350 horsepower of the Focus RS, but something close to the 310 horsepower of the Mustang would be plausible, and would be right in range of the Colorado's 308-horsepower V6. And since both the Mustang and Focus RS engines produce 350 pound-feet of torque, we would actually be surprised if the Ranger engine made less than 300 pound-feet of torque, easily out-torquing the current twist-leading Frontier and its 281 pound-feet.

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The Ranger also has a potential advantage in transmissions. It will have the 10-speed automatic that's also found in the Ford F-150. We've found it to work very well in every vehicle with it, including the GM products that use a version of the co-developed transmission. The wide spread of ratios should also give it the opportunity to put up some solid fuel economy numbers. On that subject, the Colorado will be the one to beat with the best highway numbers, and Toyota just squeaks out the highest city fuel economy. Unfortunately, for now it looks like you won't be able to get a Ranger with a manual. So if you want to row your own gears and use a clutch yourself, your only options are Toyota and Nissan, which pleasantly offer a manual both with the V6 and four-wheel drive if you like.

%Slideshow-803086%Bed SizeFor this, we took a look at the extremely similar global Ranger to see how it compares. And really, every truck has darn near the same bed dimensions with lengths differing by no more than 2.2 inches between short beds, and just 1.3 inches between long beds. But the longest beds do belong to the Chevy Colorado. Second longest long bed goes to Toyota, and second longest short bed goes to Ranger. The Ranger ties the Frontier for widest maximum bed width, and is just a bit wider at the minimum size than Frontier. Chevrolet does not appear to list maximum bed width. Neither Ford nor Chevy gave a bed depth, but Toyota outdoes Nissan here by just over an inch.

%Slideshow-312929%Overall SizeOne of the reasons for selecting a smaller pickup over a full-size one is because you want something that isn't so intimidating to maneuver. The Frontier in its shortest configuration is over 5 inches shorter than the shortest version of the next smallest truck, the Ranger. The Frontier is also just a touch narrower than the Ranger. The longest Ranger is shorter than the longest versions of the other trucks, though. So if maneuverability is most important to you, the Frontier is worth a look. Interestingly, though, it's not the lightest despite its small form. Overall, the lightest of the group is the Toyota Tacoma. Our estimate for the Ranger's weight comes from the version with the 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder, which we imagine will weigh similarly to our 2.3-liter gas-powered version. It's pretty much in the middle, weighing about the same as the Chevy and Nissan.

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2019 Ford Ranger vs. Tacoma, Colorado, and Frontier: What we know (or at least can guess) originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:55:00 EST.