The Ford Ranger's Crash Protection Is Fine but Its Headlights Aren't: IIHS

Video of the 2019 Ford Ranger being tested for passenger-side small front overlap, linked in the credit below.
Gif: IIHS (YouTube)

The Ford Ranger returned to America for the 2019 model year, a move that got high ratings from anyone and everyone who appreciated the Ranger back when it was Ford’s bare-bones truck offering stateside. It now has high safety ratings as well, aside from those pesky headlights.

The Ranger, Ford’s midsize pickup in a world where all pickups have become, well, gigantic, gives buyers the option for something slightly less gigantic. But while it did well in most of its crash tests upon reentering the American market, not all of its safety testing and ratings went as smoothly.

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Image: IIHS

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced its ratings for the Ranger last week, which the institute said were good but not award winning. It got green markings almost all the way down the list of grades on its crash tests and safety evaluations, showing that it got IIHS’ highest of four scores, “good.” But what kept it from getting any awards were its headlights, which kind of help to prevent crashes in the first place.

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The Ranger also didn’t do so hot in terms of its child seat anchors, which IIHS rates based on ease of use because, as it says, “parents are more likely to install a restraint correctly when the vehicle hardware meets certain criteria.”

IIHS said that in the only crash test the Ranger didn’t earn its top rating in, the passenger-side small overlap, the “survival space was maintained reasonably well, but forces on the right lower leg indicated a risk of injury.” (Passenger-side tests have been a hurdle for automakers since they came out a few years ago, since focus has historically been on the driver.)

Here’s what IIHS said on the rest, via the announcement:

The pickup comes with a standard front crash prevention system that earns a superior rating in IIHS tests. It avoided a collision in the 12 mph test and reduced its speed by an average of 24 mph in the 25 mph test. The system has a forward collision warning component that meets the criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Ranger falls short of a TOP SAFETY PICK award because it earns only a marginal headlight rating for each of its three available headlight options. Combined with its other ratings for crashworthiness and front crash prevention, an acceptable headlight rating would have earned the pickup a TOP SAFETY PICK award.

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The headlights are the real standout on the Ranger, in that no option got even “acceptable” IIHS ratings. The Ranger has three headlight options, according to IIHS—one LED and two halogens—whose detailed ratings are here.

Headlights are a problem these days, in that automakers have the technology to make great ones, even at affordable prices, but often only offer them on higher trims of a vehicle. Some models have headlight options ranging from “good” to “poor” on IIHS’ scale, and, because higher and lower trims can look similar on the outside and are often test driven during the day, it’s easy to overlook.

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But the Ranger only has one headlight rating on its IIHS scoresheet: marginal, or the second-lowest one on the scale. It’s not a great look, even for a vehicle based on an old platform, and it’s something to keep in mind for any potential buyers who do a lot of nighttime driving.

Regardless, the Ranger is back, headlight ratings and all, ready to take the U.S. by storm—or by marginally lit nighttime roads. One of the two.

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Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.