Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

Ford Ranger Production to Begin in Late 2018

Ford Ranger Production to Begin in Late 2018

Not to be upstaged, Ford is now officially back in the midsize truck game with the 2019 Ranger pickup. Already a fondly-remembered nameplate in North America and the second-best-selling mid-size pickup outside of that market, the 2019 model is dramatically improved from the last Ranger sold there, and it's been torture-tested using the very same grueling regimen that the F-150 is subjected to.

The all-new Ranger looks similar to the models the company has sold around the world for the last several years.

Earlier in the week, Ford introduced its best-selling F-150 truck with an optional 3.0-liter diesel Power Stroke engine that will come with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg later this year.

Ford has some cool surprises in store this year in Detroit and opens up the show with one of the most anticipated vehicles of the year. MacLeod used to drive an F-150 and now he drives a GMC Yukon SUV, but he prefers Ford trucks and will buy a Ranger if he likes what he sees. "The all-new Ranger is designed for today's midsize truck buyer, delivering even more utility, capability and technology for those who blend city living with more off-the-grid adventures on weekends".

Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst with IHS, says as long as consumer confidence remains strong - and it was at a 17-year high in November - there will be a niche market for rugged trucks like the Ranger. Globally, the Ford Ranger design is distinct for its fast windshield, high beltline, and short front overhangs, which make for good approach/departure angles.

Analysts have said Ford might cut into F-150 sales by releasing the Ranger in the US, but Ford executives have said F-150 shoppers are typically completely different from those who'd look to buy a Ranger.

Affordability was also an issue, says Todd Eckert, Ford's truck marketing manager.

The Ranger will be available in three trim grades: XL, midlevel XLT, and a high-level Lariat trim series.

The Ranger will be available in SuperCrew (crew cab) and SuperCab (extended cab) variants. The truck will also have an FX4 Off-Road Package.

Under the hood is the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that powers the Ford Mustang sports vehicle.

Ford executives did not disclose prices or fuel efficiency ratings for the new Ranger. Four-wheel-drive models will come with low-range gearing. Whether or not there's a major improvement over the fuel mileage of EcoBoost- and diesel-powered aluminum F-150s, the new Ranger provides an easier entry point for-Ford hopes-younger buyers.

Of course, Ford promises a body-on-frame construction, with a frame and bumpers made out of high-strength steel. That'll include off-road-tuned shocks and all-terrain tires, together with a heavy-gauge steel front bash late and skid plates both mounted to the frame, and FX4 badging. The Terrain Management System will control the throttle, transmission, and other vehicle systems to help the Ranger get through various types of terrain, and it will have settings for normal; grass, gravel, snow; mud and ruts; and sand. Lane keep assist and lane departure warning will be standard on the XLT and Lariat, and automatic cruise control will be standard on the Lariat. There are numerous optional driver-assist features, too.

Interior changes for North America include a revised steering wheel, shifter and controls along with different trim colors and available Sync3 connectivity. The center stack includes an 8-inch touch-screen system.

As we've said, the all-new, 2019 Ford Ranger for North America is based on essentially the same T6 platform as the overseas model, but Ford has tweaked it to suit this market. Sales peaked in 1999 at around 350,000 but dropped steadily until its final year in 2011, when Ford sold 70,832.

"Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans", said Ford's boss of product development and purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang. The C-Max will be discontinued once Michigan Assembly is retooled to make the Ranger and the 2020 Bronco.

We've seen spy photos of various versions of the Ranger over the past year, but this is our first chance to see it without any sort of camouflage hiding the details of the design.

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