Review Ford Ranger 2023: Truly deserving of the title 'king of pickups'

Categories: Reviews

With a series of significant upgrades in terms of body shape, design, as well as modern and convenient equipment added, the new generation Ford Ranger 2023 is definitely capable of maintaining its position as the "king of sales" in the pickup truck segment on all markets.

Not only does the "king of pickup trucks" Ranger outshine its competitors from Japan, it is also considered a trump card for the American automaker - as it holds up to 50% of Ford's sales volume in the market, which means that for every two Ford vehicles sold, one of them is definitely a Ranger.


Such rough statistics are enough to demonstrate the solid leading position of Ford Ranger. However, it's all history now. What about the future? Will the new generation of Ford Ranger continue to maintain its leading position?


To accomplish this difficult task, the Ranger must maintain agility, adaptability to various situations, and versatility. The "king of pickups" balances the ability to move through different terrains, a solid driving experience, amenities for passengers, and an attractive design suitable for daily use in urban areas. But what is the reality?


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Sleek, modern, eye-catching design:

The first notable feature when placing the 2023 Ford Ranger next to its predecessor is the change in size, which has made the vehicle more imposing than the previous model. The manufacturer has increased the length and width of the wheelbase by 50mm by pushing the front axle forward. Specifically, the new generation Ranger has dimensions of 5,362 x 1,918 x 1,875mm, with a wheelbase length of 3,270mm.


Next, the "king of pickup trucks" has truly undergone a transformation and made a strong impression right from the first look. The 2023 Ford Ranger has shed its previously rounded lines to follow a new modern design, with square muscular features appearing throughout the body of the car - inherited from its predecessors such as the F150, Raptor, or Everest.


The capo hood with two raised ridges, combined with the horizontally-stretched grille, gives the face of the 2023 Ford Ranger a much more angular and rugged look. The C-shaped LED daytime running lights, a design element seen across various global Ford models, provide a modern and youthful touch to the "king of pickups".


On the top-of-the-line Wildtrak version, the Ford Ranger is equipped with a matrix LED lighting system similar to its sibling, the Everest, which not only outshines competitors in the same segment but also outperforms all mid-size D-segment SUVs that are priced one and a half times higher.


This matrix lighting system is an extremely useful feature. Specifically, unlike automatic high-beam systems that adjust the headlights up and down when encountering other vehicles, which can decrease visibility, the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak has the ability to automatically dim the light surrounding other vehicles to avoid glare, while still keeping the high beams on to maintain visibility in other areas.


As soon as you step into the driver's compartment, press the brake and push the Start/Stop button, the "eyes" of the Ford Ranger will swivel with sequential white beams of light from the outside in and gently glance up and down - clearly demonstrating the operation of the matrix headlights. This unique start-up display is like a dazzling and beautiful light show to welcome the owner and provide a sophisticated, impressive experience that is no less than any luxury car model.


Accompanying this modern matrix LED lighting system are advanced safety driving aids on the top-of-the-line Wildtrak version, including: a 360-degree camera with 4 camera lenses located in the front, rear, and both side mirrors; a camera system on the windshield that supports lane-keeping and collision avoidance features.

At the same time, on the highest-end version, the 2023 Ranger boasts a rugged six-spoke wheelset measuring up to 18 inches. Along with that comes running boards, roof rails, and side cargo bed rails.


When it comes to cargo space, the Ford Ranger 2023 has also increased the size of the cargo bed by widening the wheelbase by 50mm. The highest-end version of the vehicle features a floor and walls lined with molded plastic material that is slip-resistant and scratch-resistant. In addition, the manufacturer has cleverly arranged slots and hooks around the cargo bed, allowing users to easily customize the space by dividing it into multiple compartments according to their specific needs.


Even the bed liner has pre-drawn measuring lines and clip placements, allowing users to fold it out and turn the truck bed into a convenient and easy-to-use work surface for processing mobile materials.

Three features on the 2023 Ford Ranger demonstrate the brand's understanding of users: step bars are arranged on both sides of the tail of the truck, next to the rear wheels; the ability to easily open and close the tailgate with just one finger and two power outlets in the cargo bed. This clearly shows Ford's determination to turn the Ranger into an extremely versatile and convenient option for customers, like a "5-seater SUV in the pickup truck segment".


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Overflowing with modern equipment and conveniences:

Compared to its previous version, the interior compartment of the Ford Ranger 2023 has undergone a complete transformation in terms of design and equipment. Similar to the exterior design of the vehicle, the rounded design language has been completely replaced by sleek, angular lines in a "shoulder of beef" style, giving a robust feeling.


The most distinct details are the air conditioning vent patterns, the rotating knob for driving mode, and the three circular buttons for adjusting the air conditioning and volume. Compared to its Japanese competitors, it can be affirmed that the 2023 Ford Ranger has a design that brings a modern and comfortable feeling, similar to that of an SUV rather than a "pickup truck interior atmosphere".


The clear demonstration of the class position of the "king of the pickup truck segment" - Ford, is equipping every Ranger 2023 with a pair of rear-view display screens (8 inches in size) and an entertainment information screen vertically placed on the dashboard with a size of 10-12 inches. This is a strong blow to the Japanese competitors who are still struggling with analog gauges behind the steering wheel and a small, feature-poor infotainment center.


Accompanying these very modern displays is SYNC4 technology and full smart connectivity including: wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, type-C charging port, USB, 12V outlet, and power outlet.

The 6-speaker entertainment sound system equipped as standard on all versions of the Ranger 2023 is not a strong point. The car only ensures basic music listening capability, without a "wow factor" in terms of deep, powerful, and sharp bass range, while the mid and treble range are dull and lacking in detail.


On the Wildtrak version, the Ford Ranger 2023 is equipped with vinyl leather seats, a material that limits heat absorption, while other versions are only equipped with cloth seats.

In addition, the Ford Ranger 2023 is also equipped with an electronic parking brake with Auto hold, making the cabin more tidy and modern. The car also features 6 different driving modes, inherited from its big brother, the Raptor, and a 360-degree camera system with sharp and clear visibility - at a completely different level compared to the blurry and poorly displayed cam360 system on some competitors.


And not to be outdone by its competitors, the 2023 top-of-the-line Ford Ranger also features an advanced automatic driving assistance package, including features equivalent to other pickup trucks such as Adaptive Cruise Control (with Stop and Go support), lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, front and rear collision warning and avoidance support, blind spot warning, emergency braking, rear-end collision braking...


In terms of convenience, the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak features an automatic anti-glare mirror system, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with air vents for the rear seats, 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a secondary compartment on the dashboard with a cup holder lever for cooling/heating beverages next to the air conditioning vent.

Meanwhile, other versions of the car come with standard cloth seats, manual air conditioning, and manually adjustable seats. However, the convenient integrated door-opening lever on the door handle is still present on all Ranger versions.


The feeling of driving a SUV:

With sales accounting for over 50% of Ford's total sales volume, it's not an exaggeration to conclude that the Ranger is an iconic American vehicle. This is evident through the powerful sound of the door closing and the extremely solid driving feel.


On the previous second generation, both Ranger and Everest were developed by Ford Australia on the T6 chassis platform. Although this pair was only sold in some Asian and Latin American markets, in reality, they both appeared in Europe - but not as commercial vehicles but as special versions under the NATO military bloc's structure.

To become light transport vehicles for NATO military forces, the Ranger and Everest were equipped with additional equipment and fine-tuned suspension systems; but there was no need to convert the diesel engine or T6 chassis - demonstrating the reputation of Ford's high-riding models.


Returning to the Ford Ranger 2023, thanks to the increased length and width of the wheelbase, the vehicle has better off-road capabilities with improved approach and departure angles. Its ability to control high-speed cornering is also more stable thanks to the continued strength of the second-generation T6 chassis platform. The position of the shock absorber has also been moved outside the frame, providing better damping of vibrations.


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Despite having electric power steering, the steering wheel of the Ford Ranger still provides a very firm grip, rather than feeling loose like some Korean models. Particularly when driving in the city, drivers can steer very smoothly and quickly - without struggling like driving a truck with hydraulic power steering in other pickup models, which can be quite strenuous.


The highest-end version of the Ford Ranger is equipped with a 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine, delivering 210 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque. This power is more than sufficient for users to operate the vehicle. When paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the engine operates smoothly at 1,000-2,000 RPM, providing superior fuel efficiency and excellent soundproofing.

For other versions, the 2023 Ford Ranger is equipped with a 2.0L turbo diesel engine paired with a 6-speed gearbox, delivering 170 horsepower and 405 Nm of maximum pulling force - still very capable for use on construction sites or for leisurely coffee runs around the city.


In particular, driving the 2023 Ranger Wildtrak, the highest-end version, has become much more effortless thanks to the incredibly powerful driving assistance technology package. On highways, the car will automatically maintain speed and follow the vehicle in front, steer according to the lane, and adjust the headlight beam. Even in the city, drivers can control the car to follow the vehicle in front amidst heavy traffic or continuous red lights thanks to the Stop and Go supported Adaptive Cruise Control.

Additionally, real-world experience has shown that the rear-cross traffic detection and automatic braking when reversing on the Ford Ranger 2023 works quite sensitively.


Summary: With a price range fluctuating from 23,000 to 26,000 USD, Ford Ranger 2023 will surely continue to hold the throne in the pickup truck segment. The new generation brings about significant changes with numerous valuable upgrades in terms of appearance, design, and modern amenities. The all-new Ford Ranger 2023 is undoubtedly capable of maintaining its position as the "sales king" in the comprehensive pickup truck segment, from design, equipment to driving experience and passenger convenience.

Compared to its Japanese rivals, the Ford Ranger 2023 provides a similar driving experience to a regular car (specifically, a 7-seater SUV), not bulky and rough like a "real" truck.

In addition, the 6 versions of Ranger, including XL, XLT, XLS, and Wildtrak - which have now been carefully studied by the carmaker - distribute products with suitable equipment at every price segment, instead of only focusing on the highest and lowest price range.


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Video review Ford Ranger 2023


Jame Daniel