A Week In A 2020 Ranger FX2 Was The Perfect Pandemic Pick Me Up

Clicking the shifter into Sport, I stab the go pedal, and well, I wait. The 10-speed auto starts whirring through the shifts and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost pumps out its 270 horsepower. That’s nice performance, but its goal is not blinding acceleration off the starting line or out of the corner. It is meant to propel people and cargo.

Most often when I strap into a new vehicle for a drive review, performance is the top consideration. This time around, it was all about utility and experiencing one of the rides on the family’s new-vehicle wish list. The vehicle in question was a 2020 Ranger FX2, a two-wheel drive version of Ford’s latest compact pickup.

While muted in a substantial truck, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine under the hood of this 2020 Ranger FX2 SuperCrew pickup delivers a respectable 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of grunt. We couldn’t help thinking how much more fun it would be with a few mods like an intercooler, a hotter tune, and more boost. That made me wish for a sport-truck version, like a mini Lightning. For now, that option doesn’t exist from the factory, but you could build your own.

As you may recall, we first experienced the new Ranger as it debuted in late 2018. That drive was primarily geared toward showcasing the off-road prowess of the four-wheel drive version. While there was some street driving between the mud-slinging antics, it has been long enough that a refresher was due.

Given your scribe’s flat-landing existence in Florida, it was completely appropriate that Ford loaned us a two-wheel-drive version for a week. Equipped with just about every toy and including the four-door SuperCrew cabin, it was the ideal quarantine escape vehicle for a socially distanced trip to the beach.

While it’s typical to toggle between a Focus ST and Mustang for solo drives, this writer often pilots the family truckster, an aging Ford Edge. No matter the length of the beach trip, this machine swallows up a ton of gear. As such, the Ranger proved an ideal transport with plenty of room in the bed for all the gear, and more than enough room for the family unit inside. The only downside in the precipitation-proficient climate was the lack of a tonneau cover. While it was on the option sheet, it was no longer on the truck…

The Medium Stone leather seats and interior proved comfortable and ergonomic enough for short stints around town or longer road trips. It was great to be able to plug in an iPhone and use CarPlay to alleviate distractions, and use Waze navigation rather than the factory offering. Adaptive cruise and Sync infotainment made road trips more palatable, and there was plenty of room for a typical family and associated gear.

It turns out the weather cooperated, and driving the vehicle on the interstate was a joy thanks to the adaptive cruise control and Sync infotainment’s CarPlay integration. With Waze leading the way, we were there in no time, and the backup camera and front and rear parking sensors made it easy to deftly back in for loading and unloading. Though it wasn’t part of the plan, the truck carried the Trailer Towing package and is capable of towing 3,500 pounds, so it could pull a lightweight toy to the race track as well.

Emblazoned with Race Red paint and optioned with the Sport appearance package, which includes Magnetic-coated aluminum wheels, the latest Ranger FX2 SuperCrew gets the job done in style. The FX2 markings reveal that it is more capable off-road than the average two-wheel-drive compact pickup.

Around town, the higher perch and compact size made it easy to see and navigate side streets and parking lots on supply runs. Carrying a preference for smaller vehicles, the Ranger fits that balance of utility without being too cumbersome to pilot in everyday situations. It was easy to park, and effortless to back up.

While the pliant truck suspension requires some driving style adjustment for a performance-car junkie, it offers a comfortable ride with the occasional undulations caused by uneven pavement. The Lariat package includes the technology pack, which delivers the fun Sync infotainment with 10-speakers and remote starting. The new-for-2020 FX2 package imbues the two-wheel-drive truck with enhanced off-road credentials courtesy of an Electronic-Locking Rear Differential, Off-Road OWL Tires, an Off-Road tuned suspension, an Off-Road Screen in cluster, and a 4x2 “FX Off-Road” bodyside decal.

After a week in the truck, it is safe to say it would make a comfortable daily driver for those who need to carry a clan and cargo, and don’t want to deal with the size and fuel consumption of a full-size pickup. Plus, given the times we are living in, the flexibility to turn the truck into a home base for outdoor play is ideal. Imagine the possibilities of a cooler and lounge chairs in the back for a drive-in concert or a big-screen mounted to the trailer hitch for an outdoor flick at the campground. The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you do with one of these trucks, it’s great that Ford is back in the compact pickup game with the Ranger nameplate. Trucks are the fuel for the Blue Oval engine, and the latest Ranger is sure to help keep it running strong.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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