Ford Ranger In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Re-introduced in 2019, the Ford Ranger plays little brother to the F-150 truck. It’s smaller, more fuel-efficient, and easier to drive than the bigger F-150.

Read on to find out if the Ranger is as fun to drive in winter as the F-150.

Here is the short answer about whether the Ford Ranger is good for snow and winter driving:

The Ford Ranger benefits from a high ground clearance and four-wheel-drive capability. It also has safety technologies such as Traction Control, Stability Control, and Antilock Brake System that decrease the risks of winter driving. This makes it perfect for combating harsh winter conditions.

Is a Ford Ranger Good in The Snow?

Pickups are typically great in a snow, mostly because of their excellent weight distribution, torque output, and high ground clearance. The Ford Ranger pickup doesn’t disappoint and has all it takes to drive well in snow.

Although it’s a compact truck, the Ranger has enough ground clearance to drive through deep snow without getting stuck. Take a regular passenger car on the same snowed-out route as the Ranger and it will stall minutes in.

The powerful V4 engine provides the Ranger with enough power to combat packed snow obstacles. Add that to the optional 4WD package, and it’s easy to see why the Ranger is a great snow driver.

However, make sure to read our article here with considerations around the lights on Ford Rangers.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

The Ford Ranger has many features designed to enhance winter driving. From our research, here are the top features that bolster the Ranger’s handling and driving in winter:

Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD)

Most Rangers use rear-wheel drive (RWD), which is a form of two-wheel drive (2WD). RWD Rangers are half-decent in winter, although we won’t advise it.

The best Rangers for winter driving are 4WD-equipped variants. In fact, the availability of 4WD is one reason the Ranger is such a great truck to drive in snow.

Why is 4WD important for winter driving? Maintaining traction on ice and snow is difficult, but gets easier with 4WD.

On 2WD Rangers, the drivetrain sends power only to the rear wheels during operation. This means the front wheels get less power and are useless when you encounter difficult terrain. It also increases their chances of slipping and losing traction.

However, 4WD ensures power goes to the front and the rear wheels, in the event of one wheel slipping. This prevents loss of traction, which frequently occurs on wet surfaces in winter.

Traction Control

The Traction Control System complements 4WD’s efforts in maintaining adequate traction. In a situation where your Ranger doesn’t have 4WD, the TCS might be your savior in wintry conditions.

Traction Control’s function is to prevent unrestrained wheelspin, which can cause loss of traction. By measuring wheel operation during drives, TCS can sense if a wheel is spinning at a higher-than-normal rate.

The TCS will reduce the spinning of the affected wheel by limiting engine power to it. Spinning at a much slower rate, the wheel makes increased contact with the pavement for better traction.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic Stability Control system on Ranger trucks enhances stability and ensures you remain in control on uneven terrain. Particularly when you drive in winter, ESC will let you drive without fear of skidding or slipping off the pavement.

The Ranger’s ESC system uses sensors to monitor wheel speed, steering angle, and vehicle acceleration while you drive. Analyzing these data, it can detect loss of control. 

If your vehicle is about to lose control, the ESC will reduce its speed by applying engine braking. It will also reduce wheel speed by applying the brakes on each side of the wheel.

The combination of these actions ensures your vehicle doesn’t lose control and careen off the road. It also means you can avoid crashing while riding in winter.

Antilock Brake System

ABS protects your vehicle against wheel seizing caused by hard braking. Wheel seizure is common in winter and results from uncontrolled application of brake force on wheels.

If ABS senses a wheel is getting too much brake force and may seize, it automatically reduces brake force by pulsing the brakes. This allows you to brake and stop safely on icy or snowy roads.

Brake Assist

An increased brake distance is a common issue for winter drivers. Why? Longer braking distances equal longer stopping times, which could increase chances of road mishaps.

Brake Assist fixes the issue of longer braking distances by increasing brake force generated when you press the brake pedal. This lets your truck halt quickly even if you didn’t slam the brake hard enough–which is good for emergency braking in winter.

Electronic Brake-Force Distribution

The EBD system is a cousin to the Antilock Brake System. Like ABS, the EBD feature averts wheel seizure and prevents skidding on wet surfaces.

However, it goes about doing this differently. Rather than pulse the brakes, it will balance brake force between the front and rear axle. Thus, each pair of wheels get enough brake pressure that they don’t cease operation and seize.

Please also read our article on how long Ford Rangers last.

Does a Ranger Have Snow Mode?

If you choose the optional FX4 Off-Road Package for your Ranger, you will get Ford’s Terrain Management System which has a Snow mode.

The TMS automatically modifies engine performance, transmission shifting, and vehicle responsiveness to improve traction and drivability in harsh conditions.

Included among these conditions is snowy terrain. In fact, the TMS has a specific mode (Grass/Gravel/Snow) designed to improve performance on snow. Selecting this drive mode will enhance your Ranger’s handling in snow much like any Snow Mode feature will.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Ranger?

It Is possible to fit snow gear on a Ranger truck. Still, you would be better off keeping these tips in your mind as you install snow gear on your truck:

It is important to buy snow gear that fits your vehicle: If you install wrong-sized snow chains on your wheels, your vehicle’s handling and drivability will suffer. Take important measurements (tire size, wheel size) before you shop for snow gear or any snow-driving equipment.

If you aren’t particularly skilled at installing snow gear, pay a mechanic to do it: You could damage components from a wrong installation of snow-driving equipment.

For instance, you can damage the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) sensors while trying to replace the stock all-season tires with snow tires.

A specialist can save your truck from potential problems that could result from wrong installation.

If you love off-road adventures, check out our article on 11 Ford Ranger statistics you should know.

How Much Snow Can a Ranger Handle?

The Ford Rangers come with a ground clearance of 8.9 inches, which is among the highest in the truck class. This generous ground clearance means the Ranger can drive in thick snow without stalling.

The Ranger should be able to handle snow of 7-8 inches with ease. This means your Ranger can handle harsh winters where you can get up to seven inches of snow on occasions.

How Does Ranger Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Ranger is a fuel-injected truck, so it has no issues with running in low winter temperatures.   So long you use fast-flowing oil (think synthetic oil), your Ranger should start easily when temperatures dip below subzero levels.

Can a Ford Ranger Drive on Ice?

The Ford Ranger can drive on ice. The Ranger’s advanced brake technologies allow you to brake safely on ice. Besides, Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control prevent loss of traction and control on icy roads.

The only problem may be the high center of gravity; because the Ranger is top heavy, it can easily roll over on icy surfaces. However, if you drive carefully, you should avoid this fate.

Make sure to check out our article on 11 Ford Ranger statistics you should know.

Does the Ranger Have 4WD?

The Rangers come standard with 2WD, but you can get 4WD at an additional cost. If you plan to drive frequently in winter, 4WD will be an asset.

What About Older Ranger Models And Winter Driving?

Most of the previous-generation Ranger models had 4WD, Traction Control, and Electronic Stability Control (ABS came later). Judging by this, we would say you could take any of those models for a snow driving adventure. Nonetheless, check if these features still work on that used Ranger you want to buy.

Do Rangers Need Snow Tires?

Your tires may just be the difference between traveling safely in winter and getting involved in a crash. Snow tires are designed with special materials and sipes that enhance their grip in snow.

We advise against using the stock all-season tires in snow because they offer less traction and control.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Ranger?

Per Ford’s announcement, the Ranger is not designed for plowing, which means you should not mount a snowplow on it.

You could tweak your Ranger and use it for plowing. But this may void your warranty, so we’d advise against doing it.

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