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I’m sure you saw Sean’s great post about his new truck last week. Well, he swung by my place with it not long before that and gave me the lowdown, which got me thinking about my own truck situation. I’ve been nursing along a 1997 F150 since around 2004, and it’s been a good ride. I inherited it from my father, and he’d already added an aftermarket transmission cooler and an electric towing package. Bottom line: I’ve towed up to 15,000 lbs. with it with no problem.

But like all F150s, it has an Achilles heel: the heater core. After a second replacement in four or five years, I decided I wasn’t interested in removing the dash again down the road. And honestly, I’m doing a hell of a lot less towing than I was when I first got the F150.

So out went the F150 (along with my Porsche as well) and picked up something remarkably similar to Sean’s Ranger. OK, you got me: mine is identical to his, as you can see from the picture above. (That’s mine on the right.) We did end up with a few minor differences. I got cruise control, Sean got fog lamps. And his came with a bed liner. I’ll have to find one later.

At any rate, consider the purchase my vote for the practicality of a truly compact standard-cab truck for those of us who don’t need to tow.


21 Responses to Another Vote For The Compact Truck

  1. Toolhearty says:

    So out went the F150 (along with my Porsche as well)…

    Well, I guess I can stop waiting for the second installment of The Porsche Project.


    Good luck with the Ranger. My ’97 is still running like a champ.

  2. rg says:

    Welcome to the club. I didn’t realise they were regular cab, so disregard my previous comment about removing the jump seats. Duh.

    Tip: if you put in a plastic bedliner, first tape in a piece of foam laminate flooring underlay to save the paint from getting worn away by the liner.

  3. Toolhearty says:


    My Ranger has the factory plastic bedliner. I’m thinking of replacing the box (rust) and will probably try a coating instead of re-installing the plastic liner. Fewer places for water to get trapped.

    If I have to haul some bricks or whatnot, I can always put down a temporary sheet of plywood to keep the bed from getting banged up.

  4. jeff_williams says:

    Now you guys need matching ToolMonger door stickers.

  5. rg says:

    @ Toolhearty

    Agreed, spray in liners are the way to go. The catch is, they’re very expensive compared to the drop-in plastic liners.

    The idea of using the foam sheet between the plastic liner and the box is to protect the paint from rubbing and subsequent risk of corrosion.

    In defense of the plastic liners, they’re close to indestructable. But if money were no object, then yeah, I’d get Line-X or something similar. Unfortunately, money is an object …

  6. browndog77 says:

    I thought you guys were in Texas! You are doing some serious damage to a long-standing stereotype, ya’ know! I install appliances, so I need the size of my E-350, but if things were to change in that regard, I would love something that WON’T hold $100.00 worth of gas!

  7. Angelbane says:


    I have a frontier that is 11 years old that is able to do everything I have ever needed it to do save for towing. I honestly cannot see the advantage of a larger truck as i have a couple of buddies that have them … and I have carried everything they have and then some and I get better gas mileage.

    As far as the bed liner do yourself the favor and just get the spray in … you will eventually put a hole in the bed liner if you do a lot of haulin crap around.

    And not all us Texans wear 10 gallon hats and drive the big ass trucks …

  8. MattC says:

    Congratulations on your new ride. I have had a 1997 Ranger and currently have a 2001 Sonoma. For my needs, the compact truck work well. I am not discounting the need for a larger truck for towing, but a compact truck can serve the needs of most homeowners. As an aside, my father in law won a 2010 Ford Ranger in a raffle (his comes with satellite radio, cruise and a 5 speed automatic). He already has had a spray on liner applied and purchased a color coordinated hard top tonneau cover. It rides much better than my 1997 Ranger ever did and the standard 4 cylinder is much more powerful.

  9. DavidtheCanadian says:

    Congrats, sir, and welcome to the club. Personally, I love my little 99 Sonoma, its great for the tiny office parking lot but still lets me haul nearly anything (not to mention saving tons on gas versus a larger truck). I’d also agree with grabbing a bedliner when you get a chance, my plastic one has taken many a beating and is dead simple to clean out.

  10. Toolfreak says:

    Sounds like a winner, dumping two so-so vehicles and getting something shiny and probably even more driveable and dependable. You’ll probably be even happier about it when gas passes $4 a gallon and stays there all summer.

    When it comes to towing through, the only change is to get the 4.0L V6 with low 3.73/4.10 gears instead of the 4 banger, no need for a full size. Makes for some pretty impressive performance when empty, too.

    Now, full sizes are great for serious heavy hauling, and especially so you don’t get the “tail wagging the dog” effect when towing 5 tons…but I’d say most people with full sizes just get them because they like having a “big” truck.

  11. TB says:

    Small trucks obviously have their advantages, but so do full size pickups. Try hauling a family of 5, plus all of your stuff for a weekend getaway in a small truck, or even a sedan. Not gonna happen.

  12. HMS says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but I seem to remember reading that Ford plans to discontinue the Ranger with the 2012 model. That just does not feel like a wise decision.

  13. Old as Dirt says:

    I have a 1993 Ford Ranger and it runs sweet.I also put in an aftermarket bed liner.

  14. Old as Dirt says:

    My 1993 Ranger has a 6 cylinder automatic.

  15. Toolhearty says:

    TB Says:
    Small trucks obviously have their advantages, but so do full size pickups. Try hauling a family of 5, plus all of your stuff for a weekend getaway in a small truck, or even a sedan. Not gonna happen.

    Which is why “rentals” exist. Seriously, whenever I see a “custom” full-size van or a ginormous SUV with a hitch and the only one in it is the driver, I’m pretty sure the owner is thinking “…but, but, but… If I go somewhere on vacation, I neeeeed the room.” So, for what, two weeks worth of use per year, they drive the gas-guzzler around instead of saving a sizeable chunk of cash by driving something more efficient and using a bit of the savings to rent a larger vehicle when needed.

    Okay, rant off. 🙂

  16. zoomzoomjeff says:


    I believe they were going to temporarily “discontinue” it for a year or so, and then roll out an entirely newly designed truck, IIRC.

  17. russ says:

    I like my 98 S-10. With a 4.3 V6 I get 20-24 mpg, mostly around 22, not the greatest but better than a large truck and it is not my main ride. It hauls what I need to haul, it has the power to tow if needed – which I don’t, and I use it to keep my mileage down on my car.

    You’ll like your Ranger, my neighbor has one and he likes his.

  18. Bob says:

    Love my 99 Dakota, 5.2L, a mid size truck that can do what ever I need it to!

  19. Kris says:

    Read somewhere that the Ranger’s successor will be designated F-100, will look like a downsized F-150.

  20. Joel says:

    Except the Ranger is being discontinued. It’s too bad because I agree with you, the compact trucks are awesome – not everyone needs a truck the size of an F-150.

    The Ranger was the last of the ‘small’ trucks, and it’s being discontinued means they’re gone for now. Maybe someone will introduce another sometime soon – Mahindra has been trying to get their truck to NA for some time now…

  21. cyberpine says:

    My dad has that exact same truck .. black even! Love the hood and body style. I drove a 93 Ranger for 10 years and then foolishly traded it in instead of just keeping it.

    I’m driving a 2010 Ram Quad Hemi now.. btw, yeah it holds $100 in gas and I can almost see the needle move.

    I’m waiting for he next gen of compact trucks. Something like the 2006 dodge rampage or Toyota A-bat concepts. The name of the game will be midgates.. something with an easy fold down midgate (easier than the Avalanche) and maybe a high bed with a large under bed turnk (like the Ridgeline). The GM Bare Necessities Reversable bulkhead concept was just brilliant, but then Chevy already gambled with the failed SSR and then they had to be bailed out and given CPR. But that concept was amazing and somebody should just steal it.. Anybody.. the Koreans maybe?

    Also very excited about Hybrids trucks, but not $10k 5year electric battery hybrids.. Mechanical or hydraulic stuff.. HHV or Flywheel looks very promising. I’m a terrible lead foot driver who would manage to get 15mpg in 4 cylinder somehow. I get the feeling a flywheel would respond very well to my driving style.

    Anyways.. I do love the Ranger, especially with the tailgate and rear bumper torn off and replaced with a rollpan bumper and a set of 295/50/16 BFGs and deep dish 16×8 American Racing Rims!

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