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From the brief look we were afforded this week, the all-new 2011 Ford Ranger looks to have raised the bar considerably in the compact truck segment.

Ford Australia CEO, Marin Burela, was full of confidence at last night’s press gathering at Cockatoo Island, where the company revealed the next generation Ford Ranger.

As the Ford boss said, “ If anyone knows how to do trucks, it’s us. We own that space.”

If I were Marin Bruela, I’d be smiling too, for this is one good- looking truck that should tick all the right boxes for any number of buyers in the segment.

You’ve got to like their marketing line too, “Built Ford Tough” and it fits the Ranger bill, perfectly.

There’s a spoonful of F-150 DNA in the no-nonsense three-bar grille on the Ranger, and that’s hardly a surprise given that Head Designer on that vehicle, Craig Metros, also led the Ranger project.

Ford talked a lot about “One Ford, One World”, and rightfully so, the Ford Ranger will be sold in a staggering 180 markets around the globe, and expectations are high.

Like Mazda’s BT-50, which shares the same platform as new Ranger, this latest generation is a larger vehicle with a longer wheelbase and wider track than the previous models. Visually, Ranger makes a strong statement, but while its workhorse capabilities has been significantly upgraded, so to, has its ability to perform as the family chariot on weekends.

There’s plenty of grunt under the bonnet too with three new powertrains on offer. If you have a need use all of the vehicle’s payload capacity of up to 1500 kilograms, then you might want go with the 3.2-litre Ford Duratorq TDI5 unit, which develops a highly commendable 147kW and a stomping 470 Nm of torque.

There’s a smaller 2.2-litre diesel, the TDCi I4, which punches out 110 kW and 375 Nm, or buyers can choose the 2.5-litre Ford Duratec I4 petrol engine with 122 kW, but has the advantage of being able to run E100 flexi fuel or can be retrofitted to run on CNG or LPG for greater economy.

Ford’s new 6R80 six-speed auto box will be available of some 4×2 and 4×4 Ranger models and is said to deliver almost seamless shifts and in keeping with Ranger’s car-like driveability.

Alternative transmissions for Ranger will include the MT86 six-speed manual, while the 2.5-litre comes standard with Ford’s MT75 five-speed manual.

Switching from 4×2 to 4×4 on new Ranger will be as easy as moving a switch on the console, and can be activated at any time, as can a low-range gearing.

“Car-like” is a common theme throughout the press release on Ford’s new Ranger and the newly designed chassis promises, “Car-like comfort, reduced steering effort, more precise handling and better on-road stability.”

But it’s Ranger’s cockpit that will tempt you, as behind the wheel is indeed a car-like experience, with Navigation screen, and stylish but functional switchgear at a far higher quality grade than you would expect to find in the compact truck segment.

There’s also a heap of storage areas too and the glove box is large enough to store a reasonably sized laptop.

Both front and rear suspension are also new, with coil-over-strut up front and a leaf spring design down the back, which is said to provide a “firmly planted ride for high speed driving on dirt roads” with less sway and bump steer characteristics over corrugated surfaces.

Brake fade or stopping power shouldn’t be an issue either, as new Ranger boasts the largest brakes in the class with 302-by-32 mm and twin-pots up front while rear brakes get a larger drum set up.

There’s a full compliment of passive and active safety systems available too including ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, and ESP with Traction Control, Yaw Control and Roll Over Mitigation.

Additionally, buyers will be able to choose Trailer Sway Mitigation and Adaptive Load Control, which maintains a straight and level ride despite heavy loads.

As a truly global Ford truck, Ranger will be offered in three different cab body styles, both 2×4 and 4×4 drivelines, two ride heights and five series choices depending on the market.

While the general consensus at the reveal was highly positive, we look forward to bringing you a proper test drive of the all- new Ranger as soon as it enters the press fleet, which we think could be August 2011.




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