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. Designed originally in Australia, it's now become a truly global vehicle with its arrival in North America. Per Ford Engineers, the North American Ranger is only similar in its dimensions. Looking at the new truck, however, it's not all that apparent what's changed to accommodate USA concerns.
Most of the exterior tweaks are minor: The grilles, head- and taillights, and hood all differ from the global version. The trucks will have SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations - which means the new Ranger will have an available four-door configuration. 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.
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The traditional argument against mid-size pickups is that they're not much cheaper than fullsize trucks, which offer more capability. Ford says this was driven by customer demand, but we suspect USA crash requirements also may have been a factor, though Ford denies this. The interior features and trim incline toward durability, not luxury.
The Ranger will be available in three trim grades: XL, midlevel XLT, and a high-level Lariat trim series. It includes off-road tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted heavy-gauge bash plate, and frame-mounted skid plates. Powerful and strong, with a high-strength steel frame, Ranger is equipped with a proven 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine mated to the only 10-speed automatic transmission in the segment. That makes us wonder how long before it shows up in the Ranger here, too.
Rear- and four-wheel drive with low-range gearing will be offered. That electronic system enables the driver to choose one of several modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand.
Dana® Trac-Lok™ differentials distribute power to the wheels, on both 2WD and 4WD models; in the latter case, torque is sent to the front via a shift-on-the-fly transfer case with RWD, 4-High, and 4-Low settings.
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The FX4 Off-Road Package also includes all-new Trail Control. A locking rear differential and a new fully boxed frame will be unique to the North American model. It will enter production at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan in the latter half of this year, going on sale as a 2019 model. For infotainment, Ford will offer an 8.0-inch touchscreen with its Sync 3 system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, and the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. Two cab and bed options are available, but only one wheelbase is offered. (We weren't allowed to climb inside, as the models on display are preproduction.) There's waterproof storage under the second-row seating. If you've got muddy or wet gear, tilt the seat bottom up and drop it in the bins.
As for safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking will be standard. As on the F-150, a blind-spot information system includes trailer coverage. The owner can store three trailer profiles in the system, choosing the length of the trailer and extending the blind spot detection to that desired distance.
While Ford's U.S. PR declined to provide detailed specifications at an embargoed preview, the United Kingdom version of the Ranger is 211 inches long, on a 126.8-inch wheelbase, and 71-72 inches tall.
Ford won't reveal power, fuel economy or towing capacity yet, but it'll be a surprise is the Ranger isn't competitive with popular midsize pickups like the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. No mention of price either. 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.
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