• Welcome Visitor! Please take a few seconds and Register for our forum. Even if you don't want to post, you can still 'Like' the posts that you read.

Deciding What Configuration Ranger to Buy


Arolsma

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Milton Wisconsin
I will be getting my license in December, and I plan on buying a 2004-2011 Ranger for $3000-$4000 this winter/spring. I am looking for one with no more than 200K miles, preferably under 170K. It needs to have a minimum towing capacity of 1,500 lbs. I definitely would prefer a super cab model, but I haven't yet ruled out a regular cab. I am mainly looking for a rwd in order to get as new a one as possible in my price range and keep ownership costs down. Currently I would consider any of the following configurations: 4.0 stick or auto, 3.0 stick, 2.3 stick regular cab (the super cab can't tow enough), or a 2.3 auto super cab.
I have a few questions regarding what configuration I should get (more like which ones I should steer clear of). Firstly, how reliable is the automatic transmission in these trucks? I have found a few for sale with only around 150K miles with new transmissions, which makes me dubious about buying one without a new transmission. Also, consumer reports gives the 2010 only one out of five for minor and major transmission issues; are the 2010s notorious for transmissions problems?
How well does the 2.3 stick handle a 1,500 pound trailer? I don't expect to tow often, but I want it to be able to tow 1,500 lbs without much if any trouble when I need it to.
What are your guys thoughts on regular vs super cab? I am currently 5'9'', but will probably end up around 6'. Will a regular cab be tight for me? I will get a tonneau cover regardless of what cab I get; so I could get stuff out of the weather that way, but it wouldn't be ideal. Also, is it a pain to access the rear space unless you have the four door super cab model?
I would prefer a 2010-2011 one since those come with esc and side airbags. The studies on the effectiveness of esc in reducing the likelihood of crashes, especially when making an avoidance maneuver, are very compelling.
Obviously a 4.0 is top on my list; but if I want esc, that is nearly impossible in my price range. I am just trying to narrow down on exactly what configuration(s) I will like the best and will last roughly five years/ 50K miles without more than a few hundred dollars in repairs per year.
Thanks for any responses in advance and sorry if I posted this in the wrong place.
 
Last edited:


Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: 80CBDBD15DC160 Expires: January 4th, 2021

adsm08

Senior Master Grease Monkey
Supporting Member
Article Contributor
Ford Technician
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Sep 20, 2009
Messages
34,000
Reaction score
3,080
Points
113
Location
Dillsburg PA
Vehicle Year
1987
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Engine Size
4.0
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Tire Size
31X10.50X15
You do not want ESC. What you really want, and trust me on this, is to know how to not drive like a retard. If you posses that skill electronic stability control is fairly irrelevant.

I've had vehicles with it, never once had it activate.

If you have to choose between the bigger engine and the stupid nanny system, take the bigger engine. If your goal is to tow 1500 lbs you really want that bigger engine. A 2.3 can probably do it, but the 4.0 will be sooooo much happier about it.

If your concern is about stability while towing, electric trailer brakes and a good controller are the key. Trailer starts swaying hit the manual paddle on the trailer brakes and hit the gas. It will settle down pretty quick.
 

Uncle Gump

Forum Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2018
Messages
5,017
Reaction score
2,977
Points
113
Location
Plano IL
Vehicle Year
2006
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Size
4.0L
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
My credo
Lead, Follow or get out of my way
Not saying it can't be done... but your expectation to dollar ratio is a bit off.

My only regret on my current truck is I don't have 4 doors.
 

sgtsandman

Aircraft Tank Diver
Forum Moderator
Supporting Member
U.S. Military - Active
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Mar 11, 2017
Messages
4,900
Reaction score
2,633
Points
113
Location
Aliquippa, PA
Vehicle Year
2011 & 2019
Make / Model
Ford XLT & FX4
Engine Size
4.0 SOHC & 2.3 Ecoboost
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Tire Size
31X10.5R15 & 265/65R17
My credo
I sniff fuel for a living. Don't judge me!
The regular cab is a bit tight on storage space. One of the reasons I got the Supercab when I bought my 2011. I think the RWD trucks don't have the rear suicide doors though. So, access may be a bit limited to whatever you store back there. Being 5'9" myself, I never had much problem with leg roof with either cab but seat back recline has more movement with the Super Cab.

I haven't heard of there being a lot of problems with the automatic in the years you are talking about but preventative maintenance is a big thing. Any honest transmission shop will tell you they would be pretty much out of business if people changed their fluid and filter when they are supposed to. Transmission fluid wears out just like engine oil does. It just takes longer.

As far as towing, I can't tell you what the 2.3 can do. I never owned one. The automatic transmission models do have a higher tow rating than the manual transmission models do. There has been some debate on as to why that is a couple of times on here. But, in the end, the manufacturer's specifications should be followed. Especially if you want your insurance to cover you in case of an accident since they will pay attention to those specifications.

As far as the 4.0 SOHC, there is a year range that timing chain issues could a problem but I don't remember the exact year but I think 2008 was the year those issues were fixed.

Obviously, the 2.3 is going to have better gas mileage than the 4.0 will.

The 3.0 engine is a bit of a dog. The power isn't much better than the 2.3 and the fuel mileage is about the same as the 4.0. It's a dependable engine with few problems. It will get you from point A to point B reliably. It might have a bit better towing rating than the 2.3 as well.

Lastly, with you living in Wisconsin. I would seriously consider a complete set of winter tires on rims. RWD trucks need all the help they can get on snow and ice. Especially if you aren't going to run with a cap or some weight in the bed. Rear snow tires to go better. Front snow tires to turn and stop better.
 

pjtoledo

Well-known member
Supporting Member
U.S. Military - Veteran
Joined
Oct 5, 2007
Messages
2,734
Reaction score
569
Points
113
Location
Toledo Ohio
Vehicle Year
20002005199
Make / Model
Fords
Engine Size
3.0 2.3
My credo
get outta my way, I'm falling!
any of the engines will tow 1500 lbs
if you tow a lot get the bigger engine or something with 4.10 gears.
if you tow only occasionally a small engine will do if you run in 4th where needed, or lock overdrive out on an auto.
2010 and 2011 have really big rear disk brakes, great for towing.

air resistance can be worse than weight for pulling, plan accordingly.
 

Arolsma

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Milton Wisconsin
I am not too worried about snow traction since I won't be commuting during the winter. It will get the most use in the summer going to and from work every day. When I do need to drive in the winter, I may put some weight in the bed.
 

rubydist

New member
Joined
Dec 16, 2016
Messages
25
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Denver
Vehicle Year
2009
Make / Model
Ford Ranger FX4
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
In this part of the world, $3-4k will not buy you any Ranger in the year range you specified, unless its wrecked or has a blown engine/trans/etc. Basic 04+ 4x4 are close to $10k+ and even the little single cab rwd 4 cylinder models are more than your price expectation.

imho, a 4 cyl Ranger won't even tow itself much less any kind of trailer, but I am used to measuring 0-60 times in seconds rather than minutes.
 

pjtoledo

Well-known member
Supporting Member
U.S. Military - Veteran
Joined
Oct 5, 2007
Messages
2,734
Reaction score
569
Points
113
Location
Toledo Ohio
Vehicle Year
20002005199
Make / Model
Fords
Engine Size
3.0 2.3
My credo
get outta my way, I'm falling!
In this part of the world, $3-4k will not buy you any Ranger in the year range you specified, unless its wrecked or has a blown engine/trans/etc. Basic 04+ 4x4 are close to $10k+ and even the little single cab rwd 4 cylinder models are more than your price expectation.

imho, a 4 cyl Ranger won't even tow itself much less any kind of trailer, but I am used to measuring 0-60 times in seconds rather than minutes.
the Duratec 2.3 tows 1500 # just fine. you may not get there first, but you will get there.

Edit: out in "mile high" land that may be different, not so much in Wisconsin.
 

racsan

Well-known member
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
2,817
Reaction score
844
Points
113
Location
central ohio
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
ford
Engine Type
2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
2.3/140-4
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
Tire Size
225/70/15-winter. 235/75/15-summer
My credo
built, not bought
my 2.3 (lima) doesnt do bad with light towing but I did toss the original 3.45 rear end for a 4.10, however I preferred my older truck for towing which had a 4.0 ohv with 3.73’s really not much difference in fuel milage between the 2 trucks and the V6 doesnt have to work as hard. Pulling my box trailer even empty is like towing a parachute, I actually prefer using the escape with it, the brakes are so much better, but thats a given as my ranger came with 14’s and has the small 9” drums and the escape has 16” tires with much bigger front rotors. Traction control? hate it. The escape has it but has a switch to turn it off, I almost always turn it off as soon as it’s running. Over cab styles- Ive had both, love the extra room in the supercab but also like being able to have a longer bed with a regular cab. Ive never had a reg cab with a short bed before, always loved the look of a stepside bed, even though theres not room for much in there, esp if you add a tool box & have the spare in the bed. My personal pick would be a ‘97 4.0 ohv, last year for the twin I beam/ ttb front end, not easy to find a lower milage gen 3 truck but they are more affordable and I think the 4.0 ohv has more low- end then the newer 4.0 ohc does.
 

Ramcharger90

Well-known member
Article Contributor
V8 Engine Swap
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
2,344
Reaction score
1,043
Points
113
Location
N/A na
Vehicle Year
1990
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
V8
Engine Size
306, Bcam,
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
Honestly I bought my ranger for 300 dollars. I have much more into it but that cost is related to the V8 swap. I had a 98 I bought in high school with the 3.0 manual 4x4 it was always breaking and needed fixed. The 1990 I have now came with the 2.3 manual 2wd it did fine in the snow but I have over a million and a half miles on my belt. I dont keep track any more....

I would look for a 89-95 with a manual transmission and a 2.3L parts are on the cheap end, still easily accessible, and there are plenty of them in jy's for doors, beds, fenders, etc. These trucks are a canvas that you can build into whatever you desire. Your imagination and your bank account are your limitations. You don't have to have the ultimate truck day 1. As long as it moves on its own and starts when you turn the key. Rust can be fixed engines can be replaced. It doesn't have to be perfect just work.
 

Arolsma

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Milton Wisconsin
In this part of the world, $3-4k will not buy you any Ranger in the year range you specified, unless its wrecked or has a blown engine/trans/etc. Basic 04+ 4x4 are close to $10k+ and even the little single cab rwd 4 cylinder models are more than your price expectation.
I have already found plenty of rangers that are roughly what I want in my price range. I don't plan on getting a 4x4 anyway. Additionally, I am in a position where I can wait a few months for what I want to show up.
Traction control? hate it. The escape has it but has a switch to turn it off, I almost always turn it off as soon as it’s running.
Esc is not the same as traction control. I believe esc uses the brakes on individual wheels to maintain control of the vehicle when you suddenly swerve to avoid something.
I would look for a 89-95 with a manual transmission and a 2.3L parts are on the cheap end, still easily accessible, and there are plenty of them in jy's for doors, beds, fenders, etc. These trucks are a canvas that you can build into whatever you desire. Your imagination and your bank account are your limitations. You don't have to have the ultimate truck day 1. As long as it moves on its own and starts when you turn the key. Rust can be fixed engines can be replaced. It doesn't have to be perfect just work.
I am looking for a newer year because I mostly want a truck that will just require regular maintenance and a few minor repairs such as new leaf springs and the like. I don't plan on doing much besides a tonneau cover, a trailer hitch if it doesn't have one, and maybe all-terrain tires and possibly new rims.
Thanks for all the feedback so far. It has given me something to chew on.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Forum Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Article Contributor
OTOTM Winner
TRS Banner 2010-2011
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
24,422
Reaction score
4,606
Points
113
Location
SW Iowa
Vehicle Year
1985
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Size
5.0
Transmission
Manual
4.0, you pick the trans, extended cab with as many doors as you can find.

I have a standard cab, newer trucks are a little better but the cab really limited seat movement and replacement options for mine.

My extended cab F-150 has four doors, I think I would almost get claustrophobic without the back doors to get stuff in and out of the truck.
 

don4331

Well-known member
V8 Engine Swap
Joined
Sep 6, 2013
Messages
1,028
Reaction score
177
Points
63
Location
Calgary, AB
Vehicle Year
1999
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
V8
Engine Size
5.3
Transmission
Automatic
The extra 3" of cab in '98+ regular cabs is almost priceless for those of us 6' and over. My son at 6'6" fits in '99 RC, but he wouldn't be comfortable for a long drive. His sister at 5'10-17/16" is just fine.

I towed a 4x8 trailer (think U-haul 4x8 cargo trailer size) from Ottawa to Regina (~1,750 miles) and back behind 2.3 manual SuperCab every summer and Xmas for almost a decade (Ranger did have 4.10s). There was only one butt clenching incident fairly early on, after which surge brakes were installed on the trailer. I liked that fact that the 2.3 didn't burn a liter of gas warming up on winter mornings. Wife's 5.0 Mustang and my 750FZR satisfied our need for speed.

BiL's '99 4x2 SuperCab Ranger has 4 doors, so the option exists.

As stated, start with combination want, they are easy to mod into exactly what you desire.
 

Saddle Tramp

Active member
Joined
Apr 3, 2019
Messages
314
Reaction score
245
Points
43
Location
Florida
Vehicle Year
2011
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
2WD
I have a 2011 2wd ext cab with 4.0 and 2wd. I've towed up to 5,000 pounds with it n problem.. (Granted Florida, but I do believe Wisconsin is about as flat)
Mine is the unbelievable 2 door extended cab. Who knew that the rear door on the ext cab were still an option and that someone would actually not spent the paltry $400 not to have them? It's a real pain because you have to readjust your seat every time you put or yank something from the back, but they probably have a lower resale rate.
 

Arolsma

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Milton Wisconsin
I have a couple more questions (sorry, I know I have a lot). We know some people who had a stick regular cab ranger, and I heard that it was a pain to have three people in the cab because the third person's legs got in the way of shifting gears. Is this a legitimate problem? Is the middle seat even usable with an automatic? I want to be able to have more than two people in the cab from time to time. In a super cab, are the back jump seats or the middle front a better place for the third person? If the middle seat is not realistically usable in a stick, I will probably scratch a regular cab stick of my list.
Also, is the 2.3 auto completely underwhelming to drive? I figure I would be fine with a 2.3 if I can at least shift my own gears; but, as I mentioned earlier, I can only get a 2.3 super cab with an auto to reach my minimum towing capacity of 1,500 lbs. I would really like the fuel economy of the 2.3, but I may need to give it up and get one of the v6s.
I have thought of getting all-terrain tires if I end up wanting to go off road some. How many mpgs should I expect to lose with all-terrains?
Thanks for all your responses.
 


Top