The all-new Ranger looks similar to the models the company has sold around the world for the last several years. In a reversal of the Mulally-era One Ford touted for the '12 Focus, however, the Blue Oval truck people say the Ranger has been heavily redesigned for the USA market, and has its own, unique box-frame construction.
One could be forgiven for assuming the Ranger would simply be a Euro-Ranger adjusted for North American crash and safety regulations, since it's already a best-selling nameplate in Europe and the second-best selling truck outside of North America. Ford designed the new model on the platform used in global production.
"We see more of an opportunity that didn't exist five years ago", Ford truck marketing manager Todd Eckert said.
"Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans", said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing.
The annual North American International Auto Show, one of the largest such events in the US, starts its engines this weekend with dozens of new production vehicles and experimental concept cars.
Turns out seven years was as long as Ford could go without trying to assert its truck leadership image in every possible sub-segment, and get the Ranger back on the US market.
Analysts have said Ford might cut into F-150 sales by releasing the Ranger in the USA, but Ford executives have said F-150 shoppers are typically completely different from those who'd look to buy a Ranger.
Others will be drawn to the Ranger for the same reasons that models like the Colorado and Tacoma do well: They're trucks for buyers who like the image of a truck, particularly one with some off-road ability - but who don't necessarily want something as big as an F-150. Specific Sport and FX Off-Road appearance packages will be offered on some of the trim levels. That's a sizable market, and it's one that Ford is clearly aiming at with the Ranger, particularly the FX4 Off-Road versions. It consists of Ford's turbocharged, 2.3-liter EcoBoost petrol engine - with a forged crankshaft and forged connecting rods for durability - paired with Ford's proven 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford did not release fuel economy projections for the new vehicle. Four-wheel-drive models will get a two-speed transfer case with shift-on-the-fly capabilities between 2-Hi and 4-Hi.
Construction: Unlike its F-150 sibling, the Ranger doesn't have aluminum body panels.
The truck sits on a high-strength steel frame with frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers; the rear bumper has an integrated trailer hitch receiver. The tailgate is aluminum, with the handle lifted for "usability". The truck was designed with an athletic look in mind, which truck buyers favor. 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.
Available driver-assist technologies include standard automatic emergency braking, while lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, a reverse sensing system and blind spot information system with trailer coverage are standard on XLT and Lariat trim levels.
Ranger incorporates smart driver-assist, passenger convenience and connectivity technologies. Available AC power outlets allow for charging of laptops and USB outlets provide more options for passengers to connect. The center stack includes an 8-inch touch-screen system.
DETROIT, Michigan-It seemed perfectly reasonable seven years ago that Ford might remove the Ranger midsize pickup truck from the USA market forever. Sales peaked in 1999 at around 350,000 but dropped steadily until its final year in 2011, when Ford sold 70,832.
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