Shopping in the mid-size truck segment? You now have another option to consider: Ford is set to officially announce at the Detroit auto show that it’s bringing the Ranger back to the North American market.
Though it has been available overseas since it was last sold here in 2011, the 2019 model we’re getting is no import. Rather, Ford says trucks sold here will be built in Michigan and feature a new exterior design, chassis, and powertrain developed for North American buyers.
Set on a high-strength steel frame with frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers and available integrated trailer hitch, the Ranger will come equipped with Ford’s 2.3L twin-turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine – here given forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods and chain-driven dual overhead cams for more durability – and a 10-speed automatic transmission, a first in the segment.
The Ranger will come in three trim levels (XL, XLT, and Lariat), and cabs can be configured as either SuperCab with rear-hinged half-doors or the four-door SuperCrew. It will also feature available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages, the latter of which comes with off-road tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates, a terrain management system similar to that found in the F-150 Raptor with modes for gravel and snow, mud and ruts, and sand, and an all-new trail control feature that takes over off-road acceleration and braking cruise-control style, leaving the driver to do nothing but steer.
Power is distributed through Dana Trac-Lok differentials with an available electronic-locking rear differential (standard on the FX4). Four-wheel-drive Rangers feature 2-high, 4-high, and 4-low settings.
LED headlamps and taillamps are available, as are puddle lamps and cargo bed lighting.
Where the Ranger could outdo its competition most is in its list of available safety technologies. Automatic emergency braking is standard, and the XLT and Lariat trims come with lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, reverse sensing, and blind-spot information system with trailer coverage. (What the Ranger appears not to have is the fancy trailer hook-up and tracking system that’s available with the latest F-150, though there is a feature that alerts drivers to faulty trailer connections.) Pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control can be had on the Lariat trim.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is available in models equipped with Sync 3, and in-truck Wi-Fi connections for up to 10 devices can be equipped through an available FordPass Connect 4G LTE modem.
So far, no official release date has been announced, but production will start at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant late in 2018.