Ford Australia has pulled back the sheet on the hotly-anticipated 2019 Ranger, which wades into the ute segment with more technology, sharper looks and more advanced powertrains than before.
There's lots to talk about here, but we're going to start with the powertrains. In XLT and Wildtrak grades, the Ranger is now available with a new 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine making 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque, the latter available between 1750 and 2000rpm.
It's hooked up to a 10-speed torque-converter automatic, and offers the same 3500kg braked-towing capacity you get at the moment.
Along with the bi-turbo/10-speed combination, the XLT and Wildtrak will be offered with the same 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel currently fitted, making 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque. It's hooked up to a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, depending on your preference.
The third drivetrain in the Ranger line-up will be a four-cylinder, 2.2-litre turbo-diesel making 118kW and 385Nm.
On the technology front, Ford has joined Mercedes-Benz in offering auto-emergency braking in a dual-cab ute, although the technology is only available on range-topping XLT (optional) and Wildtrak (standard) models. The system operates above 3.6km/h, and can detect pedestrians or vehicles.
Ford has reworked the Ranger's suspension for 2019, too, with revised geometry allowing for less body roll and sharper steering. Crucially, the company says the suspension changes won't affect the ute's load-carrying or towing capability. We look forward to putting that to the test.
Traffic sign recognition joins lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control as an option in the XLT Tech Pack, although it's standard on the Wildtrak. It's the same story with Active Park Assist, which can reverse-parallel park the car without any steering input from the driver.
Keyless entry and push-button start is now optional on the XLS, and standard on the XLT and Wildtrak.
Outside, the Ford styling team hasn't overstretched themselves. There's a new grille and wider air intake on the lower bumper, along with LED and HID combination lights on the XLT and Wildtrak. As before, the XLT will get chrome highlights on the exterior, where the Wildtrak gets dark-grey details.
The interior changes are minimal, but that's no bad thing. Sync 3 with smartphone mirroring is now available to XLS buyers, and the car's in-built mapping system now supports a 'breadcrumbs' feature to make it easier for owners to retrace their steps off-road. Emergency Assistance, which automatically calls 000 after a serious collision, is included with Sync.
"The pick-up segment is at all-time record levels in Australia,” said Ford Australia president and CEO, Graeme Whickman.
"The Australian market has shifted in a relatively short timeframe, pushing pick-ups like Ranger towards the top of the sales charts. It’s also seen new buyers come in to the segment, especially at the premium end, which is why we’ve made Ranger more refined and more capable at an even wider variety of uses."
The MY19 Ranger will be offered with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty as standard. It'll be arriving in showrooms during the fourth quarter of 2018.
We're waiting on more images of the new Ranger – stay tuned for an update with a full gallery.