Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Views & Videos
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory
Bookmark and Share

by Steve Siler

Ford Ranger
2004 Ford Ranger

Ford's Ranger and its platformmate, the Mazda Truck (yes, quite an uninspired name), have been with us for a while. Somehow, however, they have stayed fresh and continue to be popular and attractive trucks for the new Millennium.

The first attractive attribute is the low base price of under $13K, but don't expect a lot of comfort and convenience features for that kind of money. Checking the option box so as to get it up near $20K will get you what you need to make a personal truck out of what otherwise would be a workhorse only. That neighborhood is where you'll find such niceties as cruise control, nice seat fabrics, CD players and power accessories.

Avoid at all costs the base model with the 135-hp 4-cylinder engine, as it huffs and puffs in an overtaxed kind of way, particularly when there's a load in the back. Higher trim levels have 154- and 207-horsepower V-6s under their hoods, and each are available with an optional 5-speed automatic transmission that make the most of the engines' available power (and help with fuel economy, too).

The Ford/Mazda pair are available in short and extended cab configurations, with rear- and four-wheel drive. Neither offer true 4-door variants (the kind with the front-hinged rear doors and a real back seat. The best they can do in terms of handling extra people is offer a pair of jump seats that fold fold down from the side to bring seating capacity to five. Truly, the extended cab portion of models so equipped are best used as secure, weather-protected storage areas for those valuables you don't want to leave exposed in the bed.