Revealed overnight, the US-market version of the Ranger – a competitor for the Chevrolet Colorado that’s also sold here wearing a Holden badge – will exclusively use the turbocharged 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine from the Mustang – performance details are a bit light on the ground at the moment – mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission that includes Ford’s awful gearstick-mounted shifter toggle instead of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
It’s the first time in eight years the Ford Ranger has sold in the US. The US reveal also gives clues to the tougher-looking facelift in store for the Ranger due here potentially later this year.
Like Australian versions, the US Ford Ranger will use a double wishbone suspension system up the front, and load-friendly leaf springs down the rear. A Raptor-badged version of the Ranger, which is likely to feature a twin-turbo V6 in the US, but a twin-turbo diesel engine here, is due to be revealed in Thailand early next month.
The US version of the Ford Ranger also takes a big step forward in safety; automatic emergency braking will be made standard across all models, with the system extending to pedestrian protection on higher-cost models. As well, the Ranger will gain the latest version of Ford’s Sync 3 multimedia interface, which is likely to include more consumer-friendly navigation app Waze for the first time.
Of note, the makeover butches up the looks of the Ranger, especially around the front. The stepped bonnet falls down to a smaller grille that now has the word “RANGER” embossed along the top of it. The tailgate gains similar treatment, where “RANGER” is pressed into its skin.
“Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice-president of product development and purchasing, said. “The all-new Ranger is designed for today’s midsize truck buyer, delivering even more utility, capability and technology for those who blend city living with more off-the-grid adventures on weekends.”
So just like in Australia, Ford expects the Ranger to wear a suit on weekdays, and a pair of boardshorts on the weekend. It will sell in the US in entry-level XL, mid-level XLT and high-level Lariat variants with available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages, and in SuperCab or SuperCrewcab configurations.
The Ranger also gains Land Rover-like off-road settings that allows the driver to look out the window and match the terrain to any one of four settings: grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, and sand. The more off-road friendly FX4 Off Road pack will kit the Ranger with specialist shock absorbers, all-terrain tyres, a front bash plate, and frame-mounted skid plates.
Owners also will be able to set their Ranger up as a wireless internet hub for up to 10 connected devices.
The US version of the Ranger will be built at Ford’s Michigan assembly plant. Ford is keen to catch the midsize truck wave; sales in the segment are up 83 percent since 2014 “as a new generation of midsize truck buyers seek more maneuverable, fuel-efficient pick-ups”.
Australia’s appetite for the likes of the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and Volkswagen Amarok has not kicked off quite as strongly as in the US, but the brands are recognising the strength of the 4x4 dual-cab segment – the slice of the light commercial vehicle market that’s more popular with private buyers. Even Mercedes-Benz wants a slice of the action, preparing to soon launch its X-Class based on the Nissan Navara.
All-wheel-drive versions of the Ford Ranger outsold those for Australia’s best-selling trade ute, the Toyota Hilux in 2017, 36,932 sales to 35,297, VFACTS figures show. They accounted for more than 14 percent of the 1.19 million vehicles sold in Australia last year.