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


The wait is over; Ford has finally pulled the wraps off of an all-new Ranger mid-size pickup truck for the North American market - the first since the truck's discontinuation after the 2011 model year. The Ranger also borrows some of the full-size truck's running gear. It will be paired with the company's new 10-speed automatic transmission, and Ford claims that will help it deliver 4-cylinder fuel economy.

What differentiates the North American Ranger from the global model is the bumpers: Ours are steel and are mounted directly to the frame for superior durability and crashworthiness. There are F-150-inspired side-steps optional, new cargo box rails and eight new wheel designs, some of them also F-150-like. Although the regular model's ground clearance is said to be decent - again, we'll have to wait for final numbers - there'll be a Ranger FX4 Off-Road Package that will bump up the trail potential even more. The FX4 off road package will offer upgraded tires, a steel front bash plate, reinforced, frame-mounted skid plates underneath to protect vital drivetrain components, off road tuned shocks, and the previously mentioned E-locking DANA rear differential.

An electronic Terrain Management System adjusts the drivetrain to any type of surface or condition.

Like the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger gets Ford's Terrain Management System featuring normal, grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand modes. Each will have its own throttle and transmission mapping, together with adjusting factors like traction, drivability, and performance.

It should be noted up front that the new Ranger is most definitely a mid-size pickup, much larger than the old compact Ranger we knew, and it's almost the same size as a mid-1990s Ford F-150. Think of this as cruise-control blended with a hill-descent control system. Intended for low-speed and tricky terrain, it handles acceleration and braking for each wheel individually, leaving the driver to focus on steering.

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Dana® Trac-Lok™ differentials distribute power to the wheels, on both 2WD and 4WD models; in the latter case, torque is sent to the front via a shift-on-the-fly transfer case with RWD, 4-High, and 4-Low settings. Curb weight ranges from 4,066 pounds for the non-North America standard cab, to as much as 4,875 pounds, which still is more than 600 pounds lighter than a Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 Super Crew. In the instrument cluster, it will be available with a pair of LCD productivity screens that can show real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information.

The Ranger will be available in three trim grades: XL, midlevel XLT, and a high-level Lariat trim series. The top Lariat model adds pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control. Ford says that the truck will not be in dealer showrooms until early 2019, giving competitors another year to solidify their gains in a class they now have to themselves. The onboard modem will give owners the power to access their Rangers remotely via the FordPass smartphone app, and at the same time, provide a mobile WiFi hotspot for up to ten devices.

Additional features include optional LED headlamps and tail lamps. Ford's Smart Trailer Tow connector can warn about mis-connected trailer links.

Rolling out of an assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, the new Ranger is based on an architecture Ford developed for sale around the world, but engineers say every piece of the USA version's frame is new.