I have been in the market for trucks for 6 years, and never could afford one or find one to my liking. Until recently I was looking at 2005-2011 Tacoma and Frontier, but they were way out of my price range, so I began looking at used 2005 and recent Rangers, and all were reasonably priced. Ford was offering great rebates on the new 2011 Ranger, therefore I decided that was the best way to go, and I don't regret it.
I am aware that I have owned the truck a such short period of time, and therefore will base my review on my CURRENT experience and update it. As of now, the truck has impressed me, I went into the dealership wanting a manual 2wd with Supercab, power options and AC and was lucky to have one in Canada already built. So I bought it without hesitation.
Handling, Suspension, Brakes:
The truck handles great, except the turning radius does feel more like a full size, but I don't mind making 3 point turns. The steering does have a great sporty feel, being direct and having good response when you are up to speed, but the bed can be jittery when empty. I currently have 200 lbs in it for more traction in the snow, and it now takes bumps and potholes in a car like fashion. The 4 wheel disc brakes have a great feel to them, but I do feel they can be a little be touchy when parked for more than a day, which I believe can be normal for car just being broken in during winter. The truck does feel its own weight during heavy cornering, but it is manageable and normal at a vehicle of this height.
Performance, Fuel Economy:
The 4L offers great performance, it gets to speed easily without pushing the truck or bringing up the RPM too high. The manual and clutch feel is excellent, one of the best I have driven, and it impresses me every time. I haven't tried towing with it or under load, but empty the truck is faster than some are willing to admit, and can pass cars with ease. Fuel economy is decent, but again it's being broken in, so it can only get better from here, but I still get 500 Kms on a tank of 74L in winter for mostly city driving. The truck is rated at 29 MPG. I am really glad that the Ranger includes traction control, stability management and roll over management on all Rangers; it works great in even thick snow.
Fit and Finish, Interior components:
Fit and finish is solid, no creaks or a peep from any of the interior components, the wind noise is good with very little noise from the stock Goodyear tires, and you hear the 4L only when you want to. I like the easy to read instrument panel (night and day), all the buttons are at hands length, but the long manual shifter can get in the way of the climate controls, but only at night when it's very dark. The sound system is good, MP3 compatibility, CD and 4 speakers do their job, but the sound could be better in my opinion, but it's more than enough for the average buyer. The glove box, does not have a locking feature, which would be nice, and is on the small side, but can fit what you need.
I can't comment much on this element, since I have yet to use it yet, but the 6 ft bed is enough for normal use, and it does have tie down hooks, which are convenient, but the tailgate does not lock either. Unfortunately the 2wd does not come with mudflaps, I did get them included in the deal at not extra cost. The truck has great ride height, higher than most 2wd trucks and has a great stance. I am really fond of its exterior, from its fog lights to the fenderflares. It's a great looking truck, I am looking forward to trying it in the summer, and I will try and keep this up to date.