The time had come, my 1996 Dodge Dakota had 222,000 miles on it. Thats outstanding mileage for pretty much any vehicle but it had more than its fair share of issues and I was tired of fixing them. The worst was the transmission going out and I hated to pile any money into that knowing the transfercase was close behind.
So on Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) Angie and I set out to find a new truck. If you remember I drove a Chevy Colorado a couple months ago so I had that as somewhat of a baseline. We tested 5 trucks and I'll talk about all of them but I want to start with the one we actually bought.
Its a 2003 Ford Ranger, yeah its 5 years old but its only got 25,000 miles and is in excellent condition. This particular truck is an extended cab 4 door, the rear doors are reverse opening and can only be opened when the front doors are open. Its four wheel drive and has the 4.0l v6 SOHC (single overhead cam) which the Ranger first got in 2001. Apparently the motor produces around 207hp which compares favorably to the 200 and change my Dakota had. Our truck has a 4 speed automatic transmission and many options including nerf bars (really steps but they're round on the bottom like nerf bars), a sliding rear window, AC (although all the trucks we looked at had AC) cd player with MP3 capability, fog lights (driving lights really) and probably some other things I've forgotten.
I hadn't driven a Ranger since my highschool girlfriend had her '94. That truck was, put politely a crapbox. The '94 would have been generation 3, this '03 is generation 4 and its interesting to see how much more truck a generation buys you. Its bigger, more powerful and just feels overall better built. I also LIKE that its smaller than my Dakota, it feels more nimble, it turns tighter and its easier to park. The smaller bed isn't a huge problem as with the Dakota we would usually run out of weight capacity before we ran out of space... The Ranger sits slightly higher than the '96 Dakota which is a good thing when it comes to pulling my snowmobile trailer, the receiver hitch would frequently hit the ground with the Dakota, and a bad thing when it comes to loading stuff into the truck. Fortunately its only an inch or two higher, not a huge difference.
I love having a transmission that shifts smoothly and predictably although I'm iffy on the electronically controlled 4wd system. Right now it seems to work fine, turn the knob and its in 4wd quickly with little fuss. Hopefully things stay that way, and to ensure it we'll be putting it into 4wd once a week to keep things lubricated...
There is one minor issue that needs to be addressed. Right now every time you make a full stop the ABS activates just before forward motion ceases. In some cases this means the truck goes an additional 4-6" farther than you think it will. Not safe and not fun. Apparently this is a pretty common problem and that the sensors are just dirty and should be an easy fix which the dealership should fix under our 30 day warrenty.