Reinvented Ranger pickups will move Ford into midsize truck market

It’s been just over 6 years because the last Ford Ranger pickup rolled off the assembly line, and Ford Motor Co. is preparing to make the small-size truck for United states markets again.

But this time around, it’s a mid-size pickup, and it looks a lot more just like the current F-150 than the former Ranger.

Production on the brand new truck will start in late 2018 for the 2019 model year. It will be powered by Ford’s 2 . 3-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine and mated to the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission. The brand new Ranger will undoubtedly be available in both 2-wheel- and 4-wheel-drive configurations.

Making the announcement on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford truck marketing manager Todd Eckert said the brand new pickup, while based on the Ranger the company has sold in the worldwide market since 2011, features an all-new exterior design, chassis and powertrain developed specifically for the North American truck market.

“We’re not just bringing the worldwide Ranger here and dropping it in to the U. S. market, ” Eckert told The Times. “The powertrain and the off-road packages are both unique to the U. S. market. ”

That means that, unlike Ford’s bigger trucks, the new Ranger will not be offered with a diesel engine — at the very least not initially — nor with a manual transmission.

The reinvented Ranger allows Ford, which dominates the full-size truck market but has not had anything to provide in the competitive midsize segment, to market against Toyota’s Tacoma, Chevy’s Colorado, Nissan’s Frontier and GMC’s Canyon.

It’s time, said Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer.

“The old Ranger was kind of an enigma because the last compact truck available on the market, after the Tacoma, the Frontier and the Canyon all got bigger, ” Brauer said. “The new one is not little anymore, so that it has finally caught up with the midsize trucks. ”

Like its larger F-150 sibling, the Ranger will feature a high-strength steel frame paired with frame-mounted steel bumpers. It’;ll feature some aluminum parts, also just like the F-150, like the hood and tailgate.

Eckert said the reinvented Ranger is likely to offer best-in-class torque and payload.

The brand new Ranger will undoubtedly be built in the Wayne, Mich., factory that currently builds the Focus. Ford is shifting production of that vehicle to plants in China and will utilize the freed-up factory space to create Rangers starting this year and new Broncos starting in 2019.

Eckert said the truck should come standard with driver assist technology like automatic emergency braking. Safety features including blind spot detection, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning will be on higher trim levels.

The truck will undoubtedly be compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The FX4 Off-Road Package will include skid plates, off-road shocks and suspension, and heavy-duty tires.

To be sold in supercab and supercrew configurations, the Ranger will be obtainable in 3 trim lines — the basic level XL, the mid-level XLT and the high-end Lariat. It also will undoubtedly be offered with a Ranger-specific off-road package.

Other key details, such as for example pricing, payload, fuel economy and towing capacities, haven’;t been unmasked. The truck itself will undoubtedly be on display at the Ford exhibit during the Detroit Auto Show, which will be available to the public from Jan. 20-28.

charles. fleming@latimes. com

@misterfleming

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