Want to buy one
I currently own a '96 Taurus (Vulcan). The motor is still running strong (which is expected from a Vulcan) but everything else is...not so good. It's got bad cats, a bent up exhaust, broken rear springs, a leaking pan gasket, the start of a leak in the fuel tank, and many other problems and little miscellaneous issues. As much as I love my car, it's not worth pouring money into it. So, I'm going to milk it for all it's worth until I get out of school, and by then, I'll hopefully have a better job so I can afford another vehicle.
Which of course, leads to why I'm here. I want to buy a Ranger. I want something newer than my car is now, so that it hasn't suffered as many New England winters, which is one of the major causes of many of my current cars problems, but I don't want to get something too new because I won't be able to afford it. So I'm aiming at a 2000-2003.
I definitely do not want a 4-banger, and I definitely do not want an automatic transmission. I'm going to look at either a 3.0 or a 4.0 with the 5 speed manual trans (it'll also be a vehicle to practice with for the first week, because I've only driven a stick once). Because I have the 3.0 in my Taurus, I'm already familiar with it, but, the 4.0 is more powerful and when I was looking up EPA ratings, the fuel mileage between the 2 engines were very similar. So, I'm not sure which I'll get and it may come down to price and availability.
Although I'd like to have a 4x4, I'm not limiting myself to it (as much as 4 wheel drive would be an extreme help in winter, I can deal with rear wheel drive). Again, price and availability will also play a role here.
So now, I'd like to here thoughts and opinions from Ranger owners. Which motor do you prefer? What are common problems I should look for when buying (aside from the usual stuff you'd look for when buying any vehicle)? What different options do these trucks come with? What can I expect with these trucks in the long run?