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.
The company is leaning on its reputation for trucks for the North American relaunch of a truck it once sold hundreds of thousands of. Ford stopped making the midsize Ranger pickup in North America in 2011.
It's a real truck. Ford also says the Ranger is based on a high-strength steel frame and it can tow campers, ATVs, and watercraft, but the company isn't providing max tow ratings at this point. Suspension components of note include a double A-arm front suspension and monotube front dampers. Power steering will be electronically-assisted. The truck has a steel frame and steel bumpers.
The Ranger will be available in SuperCrew (crew cab) and SuperCab (extended cab) variants. Metal trim pieces over the wheel wells can be color matched or accented with a handsome magnetic grey color. Truck fans have wanted that truck to come to the USA for a long time and now they will get their wish, though Ford is doing them one better. This is a class exclusive for the Ranger; all other mid-size pickups feature plastic body-mounted bumpers. A high-strength steel frame underpins an all-new exterior design, each "torture-tested", Ford insists, alongside the best-selling F-150.
While Ford's U.S. PR declined to provide detailed specifications at an embargoed preview, the United Kingdom version of the Ranger is 211 inches long, on a 126.8-inch wheelbase, and 71-72 inches tall.
From a feature perspective, Ford is throwing most of its latest gear on the Ranger. Ford chose to bring the Ford Ranger back partly due to increased customer demand in the mid-size truck market, which has seen an increase in US sales by 83% since 2014. Ranger's muscular body features a high beltline that emphasizes strength, while a raked grille and windshield provide an athletic appearance - created to aid in aerodynamics and reduce wind noise.
Powering the Ranger is a twin-scroll turbocharged, 16-valve DOHC direct-injected 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The crank and rods are forged steel. The new Selectshift 10-speed automatic is standard. Those last two will automatically engage 4-High, but Mud/Ruts engages maximum power to all four wheels while Sand mode allows for the most slip before engaging the traction control system.
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Another factor in the FCA move is the Trump administration's threat to walk away from the American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). FCA had pledged to invest $5.3 billion in American plants to guarantee additional union jobs as part of that agreement.
Ford didn't skimp on the on-road tech, either.
"It appeals to your ability to do whatever you want", she said.
The FX4 pack brings Ford's Terrain Management system, a system first found on the ultra-capable Raptor. Grass/gravel/snow simply numbs throttle response. The truck will also have an FX4 Off-Road Package.
The standard Ranger is rear-wheel drive, but part-time shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive is optional. Dubbed Trail Control, it's effectively cruise control but for off-road use. An off-road drive assist technology maintains speed as low as 1 miles per hour and as high as 20 miles per hour, in any transfer-case setting.
Other available features will include LED head and taillights B&O audio, blind spot alert for the truck and trailers, 4G LTE hot spot, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking. Customers who move up to the XLT and Lariat models will get lane departure warning, active lane control, rear park assist, and blind-spot monitors that also extend to any trailer the Ranger is towing.
The Ranger is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2019.
The interior is textbook Ford truck, with a smart looking instrument cluster and familiar center stack.
Ranger will arrive early next year in three trims: XL, XLT and Lariat. It comes with a two-speed transfer case, Dana electronic locking rear differential and Ford's Terrain Management System.