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Ford Ranger - 2006 Pickup Truck Buyers Guide

2006 Ford Ranger Road Test Review
Martha Hindes

Ford Ranger
2006 Ford Ranger

Smaller in scale than its authoritative F-Series brothers, Ford's Ranger pickup doesn't lack in heart and polish. While it has been around longer than most competitive models, Ford hasn't ignored the almost compulsive American need for change by bringing out trendy variations, such as the recent "Edge," "Tremor" and "SVT Lightening" models. Now, with escalating fuel costs driving down the attraction of anything huge, and Ranger's better mileage and flexible fuel capability a plus, it's obvious that size definitely does matter.

As with its longstanding F-Series sales crown, Ford takes pride that some variation of Ranger has been compact pickup sales champion for 18 consecutive years. That's a lot of experience in the pickup trenches to bank on. But despite the maturity of the current platform, Ranger hasn't been standing still in the showroom. A number of changes highlight the 2006 version, among them exterior design revisions that include grille insert, rugged fender flares, new tail and fog lamps, clear parking lamps, new bumper colors and the Ford oval insignia both front and rear. To make room for a transfer of the Edge name to Ford's upcoming new crossover, that model designation gets changed to "Sport." Two-door models join four-door Super Cabs with an available FX4/Off Road variant. Performance enhancing limited-slip rear axle and a payload upgrade are optional for the STX. And for those wanting more to flaunt, there are optional 15-inch Alcoa forged aluminum wheels, body-color side moldings, "Bright" appearance and trim levels, and a new XLT 4X2 Appearance package.

Besides two- and four-door SuperCabs, Ford offers six regular cab versions, including a 7-foot box option on two. Power comes from a 143-HP 2.3-liter inline four, a 3.0-liter 148-HP V-6, or an available 4.0-liter 207-HP V-6, with chassis upgrades and four-wheel-drive available for serious dirt driving duty. And if muted isn't a desirable choice, consider new Screaming Yellow, Torch Red and Redfire Clearcoat Metallic colors to spice up the look, including two-tone on FX/4/Off-Road and Level II models.

Ranger, which can run on ethanol blend, starts below the $15,000 mark and delivers a best fuel economy of 24/29 in the 4x2 model equipped with an I4 engine and manual transmission. This is one small package that can leave a big footprint in its wake.