CarAdvice can reveal these exclusive images of the 2018 Ford Ranger XLT, Ranger Wildtrak and Everest undergoing testing in Victoria, showing a host of technology changes expected to place the Ranger ahead of the dual-cab ute pack in Australia.
Ford Australia is currently working on two Ranger programs, detailed below.
The first Ranger program is for US-market vehicles. These versions of the Ford Ranger sit on a modified version of the T6 Ranger platform that includes rear disc brakes, the possibility of coil-sprung suspension with a Watt's linkage and a number of new engines.
A second Ranger program is for the Asia Pacific region. This program maintains the same T6 platform currently used on Ranger and includes a new front-end design, along with extra safety features and technology.
The vehicles pictured here will update the PXII Ranger, which was launched locally in 2015. This update will retain the same suspension and chassis setup as the current Ranger with changes limited to features, safety and front-end design.
If you look closely, it's easy to see the types of changes Ford is expected to make to Ranger. And, if these images are anything to go by, dual-cab ute manufacturers should be worried. We see things like:
- A new radar/LIDAR module on the lower third of the front-end, which is expected to bring enhanced radar cruise control with autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- An additional camera can be seen attached to the rear-view mirror, which suggests that a stereo camera could be used for pedestrian and animal detection that works in unison with AEB
- Keyless entry (evident by the lock buttons visible on all doors), which is likely to include push-button start
- LED daytime running lights (seen through part of the camouflage) that mimic those offered on Everest
- A corner-mounted sonar sensor on the front bumper, normally used for semi-automatic parking detection
- A new front-end design with a grille inspired by the Ford F-150
- Relocation of aerial from front of the cabin to the rear, including a reduction in size
In terms of engines, it's not clear whether Ford will bother making any changes, given this is more of a facelift and equipment update, rather than a new model. Ford is likely to wait until the new Ranger platform is readied before it engineers new drivetrain options.
Ford may decide to make refinements to the current offering to improve fuel economy and power. One of the vehicles had 'dyno done' written on the windscreen indicating a tune or calibration may have taken place.
The inclusion of AEB would make the Ford Ranger the only dual-cab utility in Australia to offer this technology. Even more impressive would be the inclusion of pedestrian and animal detection.
Ford has a number of local engineers working on autonomous vehicle technologies in Australia at its You Yangs proving ground. Its understood that these same people are currently working on implementing this technology into the T6 platform.
The Ford Everest is expected to pick up the same new front end as the Ranger, along with any of the drivetrain improvements.
Ford hasn't confirmed its plans for the local Ranger yet, but we expect these changes to launch locally next year, with a new local Ranger due by 2020.
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