The Affordable Almost Full-Sized Truck We Can’t Buy

  • February 8, 2024

Here’s a weird thing.

Ford sells – in Europe – a regular cab version of the mid-sized Ranger pick-up you can only buy in crew cab form here, which is why the latter’s only available with a short (five foot) bed here. Over there – in Europe – the regular cab Ranger comes standard with an almost eight-foot bed

And here’s the interesting thing.

A “mid-sized” regular cab Ranger with an almost-eight-foot bed (7.6 feet, to be exact) is almost exactly the same size as a full-size, regular cab pick-up with an eight foot bed used to be back in the ’90s and into the early 2000s, even – before “full size” got super-sized, as they are now.

A look at the specs tells the tale.

In 1990, a full-sized, regular cab F-150 with an eight foot bed was 210.2 inches long and rode on a 133 inch wheelbase. It weighed 4,118 lbs. and was 69.9 inches tall. In 2024, a “mid-sized” Ranger is 210.6 inches long, rides on a 128.7 inch wheelbase, weighs 4,203 lbs. and stands 73.9 inches tall.

So – no – you’re not imaging things.

Today’s “mid-sized” trucks are about the same-sized as full-sized trucks used to be. They seem bigger – due to their jacked-up ride height and bed walls and blunderbuss styling.

But they’re less practical. The full-sized – by 1990’s standards – ’24 Ranger can’t carry very much in its five-foot bed, which is smaller than the six-foot beds that used to be standard in compact-sized trucks, such as the previous generation Ranger, which you can’t buy here anymore, either.

And there’s probably a reason for that, too.

It is to push those who need a full-sized truck’s bed into a super-sized “full-size” truck. These being the only new trucks that are still available with eight-foot beds.

Excepting the European Ranger with the regular cab and the almost-eight-foot bed you can’t get here, either. This one is also as long as a 1990 F-150. And its 7.6 foot long bed is effectively an eight foot bed.

But why is Ford selling it over there – and not here?

For two reasons, one of them already mentioned. The first is that Ford wants Americans to buy super-sized trucks like the current F-150, which is 231.7 inches long and rides on a 145.4 inch wheelbase. Probably because it stickers for $36,570 to start – and typically “transacts” for closer to $50k when optioned out. In other words, there’s more money to be made selling – and financing – “$50k (and up) super-sized trucks than there is to be made selling “mid-sized” trucks that are the same size as the full-size trucks of the ’90s that cost buyers less and so generate less profit for Ford.

And it’s not just Ford; Toyota does the same with the “mid-sized” Tacoma that’s a big as a Tundra used to be, just as Chevy does the same with the “mid-sized” Canyon that’s as big as a full-sized Silverado 1500 used to be.

Might as well buy the Tundra. Assuming you need the bed rather than the cab.

Okay, but why does Ford offer what amounts to a full-sized (by ’90s standards) version of the Ranger, with an almost full-sized bed, in Europe – but not here?

Probably because super-sized trucks are a harder sell over there.

Europe is a place where extortionate gas taxes have made filling up the 36 gallon tank of a super-sized truck such as the ’24 F-150 something very few Europeans can afford – on top of what it costs to buy the truck, itself. The current (January, 2024) EU average cost of a gallon of gas is just shy of $8.

That times 36 equals just shy of $300 for one fill-up.

And that tells you why not many Europeans are driving around in super-sized trucks, as Americans commonly do. Americans can finance the $50k cost of the truck itself, even if they can’t really afford it. But there’s no financing almost-$8-per-gallon gas. If you can’t pay for it each time you fill up – or at the end of the month, when your credit card bill arrives – you can’t pretend you can afford it.

But there are lots of Europeans who do need a useful truck. As well as one they can still afford to buy – and feed. The almost-full-sized Ranger with the regular cab and the nearly eight-foot bed fits that bill. It is also priced about $2k less than the crew-cab (and short-bed) only Ranger that’s the only Ranger you can buy here.

Oh, yes. Almost forgot.

There’s one other thing Ford is selling over there that it won’t over here. This time, because it can’t . That thing being the European-spec regular cab Ranger’s 2.0 liter diesel engine. The crew cab (and short-bed) only Ranger that’s the only Ranger Americans are allowed to buy comes only with a 2.3 liter turbocharged gas-burning engine. One that doesn’t get especially good gas mileage (21 city, 25 highway). This is about the same mileage you’d have gotten out of a ’90s-era full-sized truck with a six – or even a V8.

The European-spec diesel powered Ranger gets much better mileage – but it’s not compliant with the EPA’s current emissions regime, which imposes standards so extreme that it is effectively impossible to offer a diesel engine in a vehicle sold in America, trucks included. The measures necessary to achieve compliance add so much cost (and also reduce efficiency while decreasing reliability) that a compliant diesel isn’t appealing to buyers, who can’t afford it anyhow.

In this regard, note that Chevy has stopped offering the diesel engine that used to be available with the Canyon and Colorado “mid-sized” trucks that are also as full-sized as trucks used to be back in the ’90s.

The few that remain available cost so much – in order to be compliant – that they’re not worth buying. And that’s why they’re no longer worth offering . . . here, that is.

It’s a shame we can’t buy a nearly full-sized truck with a nearly full-sized bed with a standard diesel engine for less than it costs to buy a “mid-sized” truck with a bed that’s smaller than a compact truck’s bed and a gas-guzzling gas engine.

And now you know why.

. . .

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