The next generation Ford Ranger will get a bold new look and a major power boost – including the option of a V6 turbo diesel from its big brother F-150 – and a long list of advanced technology when it goes on sale late next year or early 2022.
Our artist impressions of the base model Ford Ranger XL and volume-selling Ford Ranger XLT – based on leaked images of early design studies – show the next generation will adopt hints of the Ford F-150 design.
The super-wide, extended grille bars and C-shaped daytime running lights have apparently been designed to create a visual link to the Ford F-150.
Although the Ford F-150 – North America’s biggest selling pick-up for the past 43 years – is not planned for Australian showrooms, the new Ford Ranger will continue to be sold alongside it in the US, hence the family resemblance.
Furthermore, for most of the 180 countries where the Ford Ranger is sold – more regions, in fact, than have McDonald’s restaurants – company insiders refer to the vehicle as “our F Series”.
While the next generation Ford Ranger will be based on the Australian-developed ‘T6’ platform (a version of which also underpins the Everest four-wheel-drive and the US Ford Bronco), substantial changes to suspension geometry aim to improve on-road and off-road performance.
Of note, the “dash to axle ratio” (the distance between the cabin and the front wheels), has been lengthened while inside the engine bay changes will be made to to accomodate the option of wider V6 engines.
The track is said to be slightly wider and the wheelbase marginally longer, to provide the new model with a larger and even more stable footprint.
Off-road clearance angles are said to improve, especially at the rear where a new tow bar design will be tucked away better than it is on today’s model.
The corners of the rear bumper have a handy foot wedge (pictured below) to make it easier to step up and reach into the ute tub.
The cabin, although similar in size, shape and roominess to the current Ranger, is expected to come in for a major overhaul, with higher quality materials, a new digital instrument display, a large high-resolution infotainment screen, and premium audio on top end models.
A smartphone app called Ford Pass, which enables owners to locate, lock and unlock the car remotely (pictured below), will be introduced on the current Ford Ranger later this year before being adopted on the next generation model.
The current generation Ford Ranger has led the ute market when it comes to advanced safety – and was the first ute in its class globally to earn a five-star rating, in 2011 – although rivals have since closed the gap.
The 2022 Ford Ranger is said to make another big technology leap, with available safety aids such as blind zone warning (already available on the current US model, pictured below), rear cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree camera, all supplementing autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control and speed sign recognition on today’s model.
Ford Australia is yet to confirm any details or approximate timing for the new generation Ranger, however if history is a guide it is due in late 2021 or early 2022.
The current generation Ford Ranger went on sale locally in September 2011, followed by facelifts in 2015 and 2018.
The average lifecycle for a full model change on a body-on-frame pick-up is 10 years.
While not confirmed, the Ford Ranger will be obliged to adopt a centre airbag (pictured below) in the middle of the two front seats – a new requirement to meet increasingly stringent five-star crash safety ratings to prevent contact between the front occupants in a collision – unless the company can find another way to achieve the same level of occupant protection without the extra airbag.
The 2021 Isuzu D-Max and 2021 Mazda BT-50 utes will both come with a centre airbag when they go on sale this year, to make them at least eligible for a five-star rating following a full round of crash tests.
The new Ford Ranger would need to be in showrooms by the end of 2021 to meet the deadline for the current criteria for a five-star rating. The goal posts to achieve a five-star rating will move again in 2022 to even more stringent safety standards.
As has been widely speculated, CarAdvice understands the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel (147kW/470Nm) – that has served the current Ford Ranger for a decade – will bow out with the switch to the new model.
The 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel was meant to come to an end in 2018 when the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel arrived with the Ford Ranger Raptor (pictured above) and as an option on the XLT and Wildtrak.
However, Ford held onto the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel longer than originally planned amid fears of a buyer backlash over a switch to the smaller capacity 2.0-litre engine.
Testing by CarAdvice and other media outlets has found the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel (157kW/500Nm) matched to a 10-speed auto is faster and more powerful than the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel (147kW/470Nm) matched to a six-speed auto – whether empty, towing or carrying a load.
The 10-speed auto means the 2.0-litre bi-turbo is always in its optimum power band and rarely stressed.
The big news – which has been speculated widely – is the expected arrival of a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 borrowed from the Ford F-150 (pictured above) with an output close to 185kW and 600Nm.
It is this turbo diesel V6 that apparently helped seal the deal for a joint venture with Volkswagen for the next generation Amarok, which will be made by Ford but have a unique appearance (see separate story here).
The current VW Amarok TDV6 in its most powerful guise has a peak output of 190kW and 580Nm and is matched to an eight-speed auto.
CarAdvice understands both the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel and 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel (pictured below) in the 2022 Ford Ranger will be backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission and heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system. It is unclear if a manual will be developed as an option for either engine due to relatively low demand.
Given the expected power on hand, here’s hoping at least some variants of the 2022 Ford Ranger line-up will come with four-wheel disc brakes.
The US market version of the current Ford Ranger – and today's Ford Ranger Raptor – already get four-wheel disc brakes, hopefully paving the way for other models in the 2022 Ford Ranger line-up.
The more affordable models in the 2022 Ford Ranger line-up – including single cab tradie utes – are expected to switch from the current 2.2-litre four-cylinder single-turbo diesel (118kW/385Nm) to the more powerful and more efficient new generation 2.0-litre four-cylinder single-turbo diesel from the Transit Custom.
However, it is unclear which of the two outputs of the single-turbo 2.0-litre diesel would apply; in the Transit Custom (pictured below) this engine is available in 125kW/390Nm or 136kW/405Nm guise and matched to either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto.
In addition to the trio of diesel engines expected to headline the 2022 Ford Ranger (with the 3.0 TDV6 likely to be an option on top-end models such as the XLT and Wildtrak) there may also be the option of petrol power on certain models.
CarAdvice has learned a high powered twin turbo V6 petrol – currently used in the Ford Explorer ST in the US (pictured below) – could make its way under the bonnet of the new generation Ranger Raptor (see separate story here).
A petrol hybrid option is also reportedly being developed for the new generation Ranger, however it is unclear if one or both of these petrol engines will be available in selected markets globally (including Australia) or in North America only.
The hybrid option, if made available on the Ranger ute, would be introduced some time after the initial launch.
CarAdvice understands the 2022 Ford Ranger will build on the current model’s class-leading road holding and technology features, and engineers have been tasked with making the vehicle more like an SUV in terms of comfort, quietness and driving dynamics.
The good news is, we won’t need to wait long before we see the next generation Ford Ranger.
CarAdvice understands the 2022 Ford Ranger is due to be unveiled in the first half of next year, by which time there will be a clearer picture of its local showroom arrival date.
For now, the window is still wide open – late 2021 or early 2022 – because there are four Ford Ranger factories around the world (Thailand, South Africa, Argentina and the US) that need to ramp up production of the new model.