Ford Ranger Production to Begin in Late 2018

Ford Ranger Production to Begin in Late 2018

After putting its F-Series Jr. on hiatus amid slowing sales in 2011, Ford is reentering the revived small pickup segment with a new truck based on one it's been offering overseas in the years since.

Set to debut at the North American International Auto Show later this week, the Ranger will join the reinvigorated mid-size truck market that is now being dominated by the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado. In a reversal of the Mulally-era One Ford touted for the '12 Focus, however, the Blue Oval truck people say the Ranger has been heavily redesigned for the US market, and has its own, unique box-frame construction.

The Ford factory is still closed, but everything else has changed. And while Ford left it unsaid, the new Ranger will be better-suited than the F-150 for all the car-sharing programs we're likely to see in the '20s. Automakers sold 448,000 midsize pickups in the U.S.in 2016; that's forecast to grow to 470,000 in 2019, according to the consulting company IHS Markit.

Ford will offer the Ranger here in Super Cab and Super Crew body styles.

The company gradually realized there was still US demand for a smaller, easy-to-maneuver pickup. Mud/ruts carries with it the throttle numbing, while also throwing the drivetrain into 4-Hi for truck stuff. Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, said the exterior, chassis and powertrain were redesigned for the USA market. Ford says that the truck will not be in dealer showrooms until early 2019, giving competitors another year to solidify their gains in a class they now have to themselves. Ford isn't yet releasing pricing, but it will be competitive with other midsize trucks. There was much talk about the Ranger "not just carrying your adventure gear, but becoming a part of it". That has four drive modes - normal; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand - that can be flipped between while the Ranger is in motion. Trail Control will allow the driver to set and maintain a low vehicle speed (1-20 mph) while traveling through less-than ideal trails on the way to the next adventure. While it only looks slightly different from the global Ranger that's been on sale outside North America for years and is the best-selling pickup in Europe, there are some differences. The the Ranger-stamped tailgate and steel front bumper both add visual strength to the truck, as do the optional LED headlights and taillamps, but aesthetic-first thinking did not prevail here.

No changes have been made to the Ranger's design, but it features a bespoke chassis set-up to cater to United States tasted and uses Ford's 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, as opposed to one of the diesel units offered in the UK. The 2.3-liter will be exclusively paired to a 10-speed automatic. Unlike the Tacoma, Ford won't offer a manual transmission. Ford hasn't released horsepower, torque, or towing figures yet, but says it can tow campers, ATVs, or watercraft, and its power will be in line with competing V-6s. Regardless of which trim level is selected, the Ranger will only be offered in SuperCab or SuperCrew configurations. That will suit Dan MacLeod, 28, an insurance broker from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, who wants room for vehicle seats and a bed that will fit his hunting and fishing gear. In a departure from the original Ranger, the 2019 truck will have plenty of driver-assistance tech too.

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But other fans are already dismissing the new Ranger.

More bark and bite, but an EcoBoost engine and 10-speed auto ensure the Ranger stays zen in the city.

"If I had the capital for a new pickup, an F-150 would be the first place I'd look", Orians said.

Expect more details on the new Ranger as it nears its market launch later this year.

"It appeals to your ability to do whatever you want", she said.

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