Ford has revealed the North American Ranger, which will begin production in Michigan late this year to capitalise on massive demand for so-called ‘midsize trucks’ — a segment up in that region by 83 per cent since 2014.
The Americanised version of Australia’s second top-selling vehicle — a vehicle which was designed and developed in Victoria for the world — is said to have been put through the same torture testing as its F-150 big brother. We’re sure the Melbourne team did similar years ago…
More interestingly for us, this US-made Ranger previews what the updated T6 Thai-made version, that we’re to get, will look like, ahead of what we expect to be its Australian on-sale date around September of 2018.
Mechanically, though, the MY19 Ranger you see here is specific to the US market, most obviously proven by the lack of a diesel.
It seemingly uses a 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine shared in large part with the Mustang and Focus RS, with some toughening and tuning tweaks. This engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
“Ranger’s proven 2.3-litre EcoBoost provides a torque target on par with competing V6 engines, but with the efficiency of a four-cylinder,” the company reckons.
The 16V engine has direct fuel injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger, plus forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams.
Ford is promoting the Ranger’s “high-strength steel frame backbone” and “frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers” as key features of its Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado rival. Ditto the double-wishbone front suspension.
Stylistic differentiators include the so-called ‘power domes’ on the bonnet, the stamped Ranger logo on the tailgate and the different alloy wheel design. Expect the MY18/19 Ranger for Australia to largely echo this, we’d guess.
There’s also a sliding rear window like the Nissan Navara’s, plus that steel bumper has an integrated trailer hitch receiver.
There aren’t many surprises inside. The centre stack includes the familiar 8.0-inch touchscreen with Sync 3, while the XLT/Wildtrak’s dual LCD instruments are also there.
Feature-wise, AEB is standard, while lane assist and blind-spot monitoring are available on higher XLT and Lariat grades. The latter also gets pedestrian protection and adaptive cruise control.
Options include the Ford+ Alexa personal assistant, a 4G LTE modem providing Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices, LED headlights, puddle lamps and lighting for the cargo bed, and a ‘Smart Trailer Tow’ connector that’s supposed to alert drivers to faulty trailer connections.
Finally, the ‘FX4 Off-Road Package’ adds off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tyres, a frame-mounted steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates, the Terrain Management System used on the F-150 Raptor, and a Trail Control off-road cruise control-type system.
The US Ranger comes in entry-level XL, mid-level XLT and high-level Lariat trim series with available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages, and in SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations.
As we said, a Ranger update will appear in Australia around September this year, though the company’s local arm isn’t saying much. Separate to this we’ll also see the Ranger Raptor arriving as a halo.