Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Ford Ranger marks Ford's return to mid-size pickup market

Ford Ranger marks Ford's return to mid-size pickup market

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DETROIT, Michigan-It seemed perfectly reasonable seven years ago that Ford might remove the Ranger midsize pickup truck from the US market forever. Globally, the Ford Ranger design is distinct for its fast windshield, high beltline, and short front overhangs, which make for good approach/departure angles.

Ford has said production will begin later this year and that it will come equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, 10-speed auto transmission and high-strength steel frame backbone, and available in 2WD or 4WD.

It's a sweet homecoming after a years-long absence. A Ranger Raptor hasn't been confirmed for North America yet, but spy photos have us crossing our fingers. Now consumer trends have shifted again, and Americans are showing a strong desire for smaller pickups.

The annual North American International Auto Show, one of the largest such events in the USA, starts its engines this weekend with dozens of new production vehicles and experimental concept cars.

As the domestic automakers chased bigger profits on their full-size trucks 'round about a decade ago, they let their mid-size pickups die on the vine. A dial bears labels for mud, ruts, sand, grass, gravel and snow. By fine tuning the throttle, transmission, and traction control, the TMS enables drivers to milk the most out of the Dana Trac-Lok differentials and chunky off-road tires to truly enjoy the outdoors. It monitors and assesses slippage on loose terrain.

The Ranger is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2019.

"This is for people living in the city who want to get off the grid", said Todd Eckert, truck group marketing manager for Ford. As on the F-150, a blind-spot information system includes trailer coverage. There will be both two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive options. Technophobes can opt out by selectively not using the system, but on opposite day they can play with onboard WiFi, AC power outlets and USB charging, an optional B&O sound system, and Amazon Alexa integration.

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Indeed, the original Ranger built its loyal following by virtue of its rugged talents, and so that's what Ford is focusing on this time around, too.

"Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans", said Ford's boss of product development and purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang.

The vehicle has been a bestseller in South Africa, Europe and New Zealand - where it is often used as an easy-to-maneuver work truck.

Ford Motor Co. pulled the curtain off the new 2019 Ranger, bringing the midsize pickup back to North America for the first time since 2011.

Overall, midsize pickup sales have seen a steady increase in the USA over the past five years, from 244,857 in 2013 to 452,335 last year. The truck will also have an FX4 Off-Road Package. No power or towing load numbers yet - we'll have to wait a little closer to launch for those - but Ford is promising torque on a par with a V6 but with the efficiency of a four-cylinder. Despite the 10-speed transmission where a rotary control selector could be possible, the Ranger gets a sportier transmission lever in the center console.

The Ranger will come in three trims - entry-level XL, mid-level XLT and premium Lariat - with optional Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages, and in SuperCab extended cab or SuperCrew 4-door configurations.

As for safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking will be standard.

Ford will build the new '19 Ranger beginning early next year, famously, at its Michigan Assembly Plant in the City of Wayne, where it now produces the Focus and C-Max.

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