It’s been awhile since the Ranger nameplate appeared in the US truck market. The mid-size pickup faded from the Ford lineup in 2011 to boost sales of the venerable F Series, which it did.

But it also gave rivals’ Tacoma, GM’s Canyon and Colorado and a few others the market room to gobble up the mid-size niche.

The restyled Ranger is back to win sales in a crowded field. Know that the Ranger has been sold in global markets as more of a work truck all along.

Ford says the US version is mostly new, geared toward young families with personal touches all around that include high end tech equipment, soft materials and a plethora of safety gear.

Pros: Punchy turbo four, off-road contender, affordable

Cons: Interior storage space, only one engine offered, base model lacking

The Ranger is available in three trim levels; XL ($24,300), XLT and Lariat, with either a six-foot Super Cab or five-foot crew cab. Our Lariat 4x4 test Ranger based at $40,000 before options.

All trim levels are equipped with a 2.3-liter turbo charged four-cylinder that develops 270 horsepower with 310 lb-ft of torque, giving it a leg up on most rivals. A durable 10-speed transmission is standard across the lineup.

In our independent testing, the Ranger completed the zero-to-60-mile-per-hour sprint in 7.4 seconds, about average for this segment.

What we liked most about the new Ranger is its versatility as a workhorse or a dressed up pickup ready for adventure. Most options can be intermixed between trim levels, minus a few goodies.

If off-roading or towing up to 7,500-pound items are on your wish list, you can add an FX4 Off-Road package and a Trailer Tow package to the base model to make it all happen.

Included in the off-road package is an electronic locking rear differential that locks the axle completely at both wheels simultaneously delivering full off-road traction, off-road tires, suspension tuning, front tow hooks and skid plates.

Also included is a terrain management system and Trail Control, a sort of cruise control for off-road that lets you concentrate on steering. The tow package adds a Class IV trailer hitch and wiring harness.

On pavement, the Ranger delivers a fairly smooth ride with a lofty front suspension. It’s the solid rear axle with leaf springs that remind you your driving a pickup. Overall the Ranger is capable with ample power when needed.

We found the 10-speed transmission hard to confuse. Downshifts were precise with little lag time as it searched for and found the right gear.

Safety equipment is a big part of a purchase these days and the Ranger offers an array of driver assistance features including lane departure warning and assist, blind spot monitors with trailer coverage and rear cross traffic alert and emergency braking.

Adaptive cruise control is only available on upper trim levels, same with navigation although the Ranger offers connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at