Though the Ford Ranger 4WD compact pickup did not show up on American sales lots until 1983, the title had been used previously since 1965 as a high-end trim level on the maker's full-size F-Series of pickups. When the Ranger finally became a standalone model, it was the answer for buyers looking for a truck that could haul and tow, but who did not need a heavy duty full-size model. The Ranger's V6 engine and impressive fuel economy also gave Americans the incentive to start buying, making it the top selling compact pickup truck on the market for almost twenty years.
The first generation of the Ford Ranger offered 4WD, what Ford refers to as 4x4. This model was capable of handling moderate sized loads and was adaptable both on and off-road. Fitted with a choice of either two different four-cylinders or a V6, the Ranger also had several manual or automatic transmission options. When sales started climbing in 1987, Ford introduced the Ranger GT, a sportier version of the pickup. The GT included a powerful V6, racing-style bucket seats, and front and rear sway bars.
A facelift was overdue for the Ranger, so in 1989 the truck received the "once over" with new headlamps, a more chiseled exterior, and a new V6 selection. But, in 1990 the Ford Ranger GT was discontinued due to poor sales. The maker focused on simply refining the existing Ranger and gave it another makeover in 1993. This included a curvier profile, an editing of the engine options, and higher quality transmission choices. The third generation brought about standard anti-lock brakes on the Ranger 4WD model as well.
In 1998, the Ranger gained a few inches, and the exterior was given a more muscular appearance. Another four-cylinder option was added, as well as a redesigned grille, headlamps, taillights, and front bumper for the 2006 model year. While sales have been on the decline for the Ranger, the maker has pushed aside any rumors of a discontinuation. They've introduced a Sport trim and a 4x4 Offroad edition. While there has been talk that the Ford Ranger 4WD will receive hybrid technology in the future, the manufacturer has yet to confirm or deny the rumors. Nevertheless, with recent questions regarding the future of Ford due to financial difficulties, it is up in the air whether the model will continue at all, let alone receive pricey hybrid additions.