Reno, Nevada

First Drive: 2001 Ford Ranger
Copyright July 2000,
By Arv Voss,
Auto Impressions

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Ford's Ranger Roundtable

There are the U.S. Army Rangers, the Texas Rangers and the Ford Rangers,

all of which are to be reckoned with in their own right -- but most especially, the latest "Built Ford Tough" offerings from Ford Motor Company's compact truck team.

Ford Rangers have led in the compact pickup truck market segment sales for the past 13 years, appealing to a broad range of consumers. They range in age from 16 to 70 with the under 30 market accounting for only 25 percent. There is a fairly even mix of single and married buyers. Roughly 17 percent of Ranger ownership is female.

Market analysts always tend to add labels "pigeon-holing" certain consumer groups by the time frame of their appearance on the planet -- endearing titles such as: "Baby-Boomers"; Generation X; and Generation Y (generally shortened cryptically to Gen X or Y). The real issue in sales of course, is not branding, but rather to appeal to as many consumers as possible, regardless of label or category. The best way to do that, is to establish brand loyalty by attracting new buyers of one's product at the earliest age possible, to satisfactorily address any problems that may arise with that product, keeping the customer happy and, to offer continually improved and updated products that better serve the client's needs and desires.

The 2001 Ford Ranger compact pickup model lineup is definitely on a roll with trucks that should readily capture youthful new customers with active lifestyles, as well as appeal to loyal owners who are looking for a vehicle to better satisfy their ever changing lifestyles. The latest Rangers, which will go on sale in early Fall, serve up a bolder, more aggressive styling which takes certain design cues from their larger F-Series siblings. Going after the younger set, will be the new Ranger Edge, with the 4x4 XLT sharing some of the same visual elements. Base model Rangers will carry the XL designation, followed by the upscale XLT trim.

All models will be available in either a Regular cab (2-door) or SuperCab (4-door) format and may be ordered in either a 4x2 or 4x4 drive configuration which will share the same ride height ("Slamming" fans will need to work off the base XL). Powertrain choices will include: a 2.5 liter, inline four-cylinder with 119 horsepower and 146 pound feet of torque; a 3.0 liter V-6 producing 150 horsepower and 185 pound feet of torque; and a new 4.0 liter SOHC V-6 that pumps out 207 horses and a torque rating of 238 pound feet. Transmission choices consist of either a five-speed manual floor shift with overdrive or a five-speed adaptive automatic transmission that automatically adjusts to driving style. Later this fall, an all-new inline four will replace the current iteration.

Cargo boxes or beds may be ordered in either 6 or 7 foot lengths for Regular Cab Long Wheelbase (LWB) Styleside models (XL or XLT trim). All Edge and SuperCab models will only offer the 6-foot bed -- which may be effectively lengthened with the optional tubular Bed Extender. SuperCabs may be equipped in both two and four-door versions (2-door versions feature side-mounted jump seats. There are also several wheel styles and composition (steel or alloy) from which to choose, including 15 and 16-inch versions, shod with the appropriate rubber.

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