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Greg Hartman

Report on 2019 Ford Ranger as a shooting brake and towed

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Greg Hartman

Well, I've had the Ranger about 5 months now, but in that time, it has had a lot of hard use.  We just got back from our western trip, during which the Ranger was towed about 4,800 miles and driven about 6,200 miles, probably 90% of which were on gravel or two-tracks.  We also drove it through two MT blizzards.  Right now, after having knocked lots of mud off of it (some obviously still to go), my "new" truck looks like this:

 

10-23-19 - Post-Montana Ranger

 

Bottom line after this "test" - I really like it.  It has more than enough room for two people and two dogs to use it as a daily "base camp" for hunting.  But, it is small and agile enough that driving it in tight spaces, parking at the grocery store, making 180 degree turns on narrow two tracks with drop-offs on both sides and just daily transportation use is a pleasure.  It is comfortable (for a truck), quiet and safe/competent feeling.  The many electronic gadgets are really nice - especially when trying to find your way around in the middle of nowhere.  The Bang & Olufsen stereo and SiruisXM is great.

 

I averaged 23.9 mpg with the Ranger on this trip, counting dirt and paved roads.  The 10-speed auto tranny always seems to be in just the right gear and it operates seamlessly. The truck has an amazing amount of power when needed for passing on two-lanes and such.

 

It tows like a roller skate behind my MH.  Setting it up to be flat towed (in effect, disconnecting the wheels from the drive train) is done electronically through "settings" in the on-board computer (unlike my old Jeep, where you just pulled the simple mechanical transfer case lever into neutral), but doing this only takes maybe ten seconds.  Taking it out of tow mode takes even less time.   

 

I have the off-road package, locking diff, bash plate, heavy-duty skid plates for engine, tranny gas tank, etc, etc.  It has special 4x4 settings for things like snow and mud, which were very effective and very much used and appreciated.  You can switch between them all (other than 4 low) electronically on the fly.  I don't enjoy seeing what levels of extreme muck, snow, rocks, inclines, etc I can get into - generally try to avoid such things when I can - but when hunting really remote places, it's not at all hard to find yourself unexpectedly in a really difficult off-road situation.  Then, you REALLY want the thing to work!  All I can say is that this truck got me out of places I have no doubt I'd have gotten stuck in the old Jeep - especially wet gumbo.

 

What don't I like after having spent so much time under rough conditions with the truck in the past couple months?

 

1.  The spokes of the wheels are located all the way out toward the outer part of the rim.  The tires are pretty wide, requiring wide wheels, so this leaves a rather large flat surface behind the spokes.  When going through heavy mud or gumbo, that stuff can accumulate unevenly on that flat inner surface.  When it dries, it is like cement.  That, in turn, throws the wheel completely out of balance, so the truck vibrates something awful if you try to drive it at speed.  I learned to carry a long screw driver, so I could reach between the spokes and bust up the dried mud/gumbo on the inner surface of the wheels.  Even so, you can't get it all.  Annoying.

 

2.  I tried to get mud flaps before I left, but none were yet available to this truck because it was too new.  As a result, muck thrown by the wheels accumulated on the running boards and in the space between the running boards and the body, to the point that it got hard to open the doors (you can see some remnants of this in the pic).  Plus you had to step in inches of muck each time you got in or out of the truck, making the inside a mess, too.  I'm hoping mud flaps will cure this, but obviously didn't get a chance to try that yet.

 

3.  The ARE cap either didn't fit right or wasn't installed right.  It leaked when it rained and the massive dust cloud you created whenever you drove on dry dirt roads entered the bed area.  The combined result was plenty of gumbo mud inside the truck bed - an area that I needed to be clean and dry to keep guns and such.  This wasn't a fault of the truck, but a problem with the cap or its installation.  Frankly, I was pretty pissed about this, but couldn't do much about it on the road.  I'm taking the cap back to the ARE dealer now that I am home to be made 100% correct or to be returned.

 

So, that's my report.  I hope anyone considering a new compact truck finds it useful.

 

EDIT:  One other bitch I forgot:

 

4.  The auxiliary braking system used when towing a truck behind a motorhome (that activates the toad's brakes when the MH brakes are pressed) is powered by plugging the unit into the truck's cigarette lighter.  There must be some kind of idiot-proof battery-saving software that automatically cuts off power to the outlet after about an hour.  So, if you are towing for, say, three hours, you have no truck brakes for the last two hours. ☹️  Or, you can stop every hour and reset the system (a REAL PITA because it is often very hard to pull a 40' diesel MH plus towed truck off on to the berm safely).  I am going to speak to Ford about this flaw and see if they have some way to modify the basic vehicle software so that the power to the outlet is not automatically cut off.  Obviously, that will allow me to run the battery down to nothing if I am stupid, but it's much better that than losing the truck brakes after the first hour or towing.

 

Also, all of my original complaints from my original Ranger post still apply - such as the outrageous cost of a fully-equipped new compact truck  (but still way less than a full size).

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Samuel Hoggson

Thanks, Greg.  Wife and I are researching the '01 V70XC replacement and a Ranger is on the list.  That, plus I miss my '01 Ranger......  Funny you mentioned the spokes and tire balance issue - the XC does the same thing.  Bit of a pain, but manageable. 

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dogrunner

Glad you like it, I have sat in them but not drove one yet. So far the people I know that have drove them thought they we’re pretty nice. 

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Brad Eden

Good Post. Im gonna likely have to put the ole Tundra out to Plow truck pasture after this winter and will be looking for a slightly used/lease trade in truck. If any new Rangers are in that category then Im taking a hard look.

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Wirehair
2 hours ago, Greg Hartman said:

Well, I've had the Ranger about 5 months now, but in that time, it has had a lot of hard use.  We just got back from our western trip, during which the Ranger was towed about 4,800 miles and driven about 6,200 miles, probably 90% of which were on gravel or two-tracks.  We also drove it through two MT blizzards.  Right now, after having knocked lots of mud off of it (some obviously still to go), my "new" truck looks like this:

 

10-23-19 - Post-Montana Ranger

 

What don't I like after having spent so much time under rough conditions with the truck in the past couple months?

 

1.  The spokes of the wheels are located all the way out toward the outer part of the rim.  The tired are pretty wide, requiring wide wheels, so this leaves a rather large flat surface behind the spokes.  When going through heavy mud or gumbo, that stuff can accumulate unevenly on that flat inner surface.  When it dries, it is like cement.  That, in turn, throws the wheel completely out of balance, so the truck vibrates something awful if you try to drive it at speed.  I learned to carry a long screw driver, so I could reach between the spokes and bust up the dried mud/gumbo on the inner surface of the wheels.  Even so, you can't get it all.  Annoying.

 

2.  I tried to get mud flaps before I left, but none were yet available to this truck because it was too new.  As a result, muck thrown by the wheels accumulated on the running boards and in the space between the running boards and the body, to the point that it got hard to open the doors (you can see some remnants of this in the pic).  Plus you had to step in inches of muck each time you got in or out of the truck, making the inside a mess, too.  I'm hoping mud flaps will cure this, but obviously didn't get a chance to try that yet.

 

3.  The ARE cap either didn't fit right or wasn't installed right.  It leaked when it rained and the massive dust cloud you created whenever you drove on dry dirt roads entered the bed area.  The combined result was plenty of gumbo mud inside the truck bed - an area that I needed to be clean and dry to keep guns and such.  This wasn't a fault of the truck, but a problem with the cap or its installation.  Frankly, I was pretty pissed about this, but couldn't do much about it on the road.  I'm taking the cap back to the ARE dealer now that I am home to be made 100% correct or to be returned.

 

So, that's my report.  I hope anyone considering a new compact truck finds it useful.

 

Nice report and cool looking truck!

 

Problem 1)  I think thats about standard now with wheel design

 

Problem 2) hopefully mudflaps help.  My last truck 07 ram had mudflaps yet still got mud and snow which turns to ice jammed in between the steps and body/door just like you show and dealt with. My new truck 15 chevy, same set up but no problems.

 

Problem 3) My new 15 chevy 2500 had only 18,000 miles on it when i bought it last fall and the ARE topper that was on it leaked. I hadn't messed with it till this past weekend it seems to be leaking even worse, i mean really bad! I called dealer and he said to tighten the frame screw. Warranty is worthless for me cause i'm second owner.  I did the recomendations and it helped but still leaking so gonna pull the windows and seal them better. Of course for you, i too would be back at dealer for a new one or it to be fixed correctly.

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MNice

Thanks for the review Greg, the Ranger is on my watch list. I think running boards are problematic even with mud flaps. 

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Greg Hartman
2 hours ago, Samuel Hoggson said:

Thanks, Greg.  Wife and I are researching the '01 V70XC replacement and a Ranger is on the list.  That, plus I miss my '01 Ranger......  Funny you mentioned the spokes and tire balance issue - the XC does the same thing.  Bit of a pain, but manageable. 

 

Yeah Doc, once you learn the trick, it's easily manageable.  Just seems to me that it's a design flaw (or maybe pretty wheel form over function?) that should have been anticipated on a vehicle built for hard off-road use.

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Greg Hartman
2 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

Goo Post. Im gonna likely have to put the ole Tundra out to Plow truck pasture after this winter and will be looking for a slightly used/lease trade in truck. If any new Rangers are in that category then Im taking a hard look.

 

Brad, I had a 1st gen Tundra.  LOVED it!  I had to get rid of it when my wife needed full care because I couldn't get her from her wheelchair up into the truck or back out.  I'd probably still have it, but for that - perfect size, comfortable, capable, etc.  Since she's gone now, I wanted to get a truck again, but the full size Tundras (and other full-sized trucks) were much more than I needed or wanted - I'm a hunter, not a contractor or farmer.  The Ranger seemed like the right solution and, so far, I'm very happy with it.  Ask me again in ten years or so….

 

The major downside was cost.  But, any nice new truck is very expensive.

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WI Outdoor Nut

Great write up.  I have had the issues with mud building up in the wheels.  It was so bad I thought a bearing was thrown at the time.  Felt pretty stupid when the mechanic said the correct tool for the job was a pressure washer.  He could see the problem when the truck was on the rack.  I did not.

 

My next truck I plan on having mini running boards.  They are about 10" long.  I have been stuck before because the running board held the truck up in snow.  I need a little step, not the size of the whole truck.

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Greg Hartman
37 minutes ago, Wirehair said:

 

Nice report and cool looking truck!

 

Problem 1)  I think thats about standard now with wheel design

 

Problem 2) hopefully mudflaps help.  My last truck 07 ram had mudflaps yet still got mud and snow which turns to ice jammed in between the steps and body/door just like you show and dealt with. My new truck 15 chevy, same set up but no problems.

 

Problem 3) My new 15 chevy 2500 had only 18,000 miles on it when i bought it last fall and the ARE topper that was on it leaked. I hadn't messed with it till this past weekend it seems to be leaking even worse, i mean really bad! I called dealer and he said to tighten the frame screw. Warranty is worthless for me cause i'm second owner.  I did the recomendations and it helped but still leaking so gonna pull the windows and seal them better. Of course for you, i too would be back at dealer for a new one or it to be fixed correctly.

 

Interesting that you had trouble with an ARE cap.  I've always had Leer before - and they have worked well except that the locks deteriorated too quickly. Leer had not yet made a cap for the new Ranger and I needed one for our trip, so I went with ARE.  I was VERY unhappy about the ARE cap when I discovered some guns (worth more than the truck by far) soaked and covered with mud!!!  The windows leak even in a light mist, let alone heavy rain or snow.  I couldn't do anything about that mess for the two months we spent out on the high plains, other than live with it.  &^%$@# .  We'll see what the dealer does.

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Greg Hartman
18 minutes ago, MNice said:

Thanks for the review Greg, the Ranger is on my watch list. I think running boards are problematic even with mud flaps. 

 

Yep.  I really debated getting running boardsw - fearing that they would just get torn off in the boonies.  The truck is set-up for off-road, which means it sits a bit high.  My partner is, um..., height challenged, so she would needed some sort of stool or ladder to get in and out of the truck without running boards.  Running boards were better than that - so I got them.  They were plenty sturdy - didn't get torn off, but they did collect muck, rocks, weeds and everything else we drove through.  I'm going to get Weather Tech mud flaps and see if that helps.

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terrym

Great to have “real world” reviews of new gear. Good job. Based on what you think Greg, if somebody stole your Ranger tonight or god forbid you wrote it off would you buy another tomorrow?

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Greg Hartman
9 minutes ago, WI Outdoor Nut said:

Great write up.  I have had the issues with mud building up in the wheels.  It was so bad I thought a bearing was thrown at the time.  Felt pretty stupid when the mechanic said the correct tool for the job was a pressure washer.  He could see the problem when the truck was on the rack.  I did not.

 

My next truck I plan on having mini running boards.  They are about 10" long.  I have been stuck before because the running board held the truck up in snow.  I need a little step, not the size of the whole truck.

 

Thanks!  Yes, it took me a little while to figure out why I could hardly hold on to the steering wheel for the vibration.  Once  figured it out, poking the mud out of the wheels with a long poker (I used a long screw driver) cured the problem.  Still, this is a design flaw for a serious ORV, IMO.

 

The short running boards aren't a bad idea.  They would get you in and out of the truck without attracting so much muck.

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Greg Hartman
1 minute ago, terrym said:

Great to have “real world” reviews of new gear. Good job. Based on what you think Greg, if somebody stole your Ranger tonight or god forbid you wrote it off would you buy another tomorrow?

 

 

Thanks, Terry.  Yes, I would.  It meets my rather odd and unique needs of a towable shooting brake that also serves as daily transportation very well.  Might not be for everyone.

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MNice
11 minutes ago, Greg Hartman said:

 

Yep.  I really debated getting running boardsw - fearing that they would just get torn off in the boonies.  The truck is set-up for off-road, which means it sits a bit high.  My partner is, um..., height challenged, so she would needed some sort of stool or ladder to get in and out of the truck without running boards.  Running boards were better than that - so I got them.  They were plenty sturdy - didn't get torn off, but they did collect muck, rocks, weeds and everything else we drove through.  I'm going to get Weather Tech mud flaps and see if that helps.

 

I think the mud flaps will only allow more mud to accumulate on the wheels. My friend took the running boards off his F 150 (electronic ones) because they collect anything. And he's short at 5-2". Good luck.

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