Ford Ranger debuts in Detroit

Ford Ranger debuts in Detroit

Ford stopped making the midsize Ranger pickup in North America in 2011. After an eight-year absence from the USA market, Ford decided last year that it could no longer ignore a mid-size pickup segment that was attracting a half million buyers annually.

Ford reintroduced its Ranger model to North America by releasing a collection of photos and facts about the midsize pickup truck early Sunday morning, January 14.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said at the 2017 auto show that both vehicles will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

We've seen spy photos of various versions of the Ranger over the past year, but this is our first chance to see it without any sort of camouflage hiding the details of the design.

The Ranger's front fascia is dominated by a relatively small grille which can be flanked by optional LED headlights. Looking at the new truck, however, it's not all that apparent what's changed to accommodate USA concerns. It will include FX Off-Road packages, and in SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations, the automaker has said.

This Ranger gets frame-mounted steel bumpers with steel bash-plates and tow hooks. 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 US market, and has its own, unique box-frame construction. Ford says this was driven by customer demand, but we suspect USA crash requirements also may have been a factor, though Ford denies this. The 2.3-liter will be exclusively paired to a 10-speed automatic. The U.S. -spec 2.3L EcoBoost in the Explorer SUV produces 280 hp and 310 lb. -ft.

Rear- and four-wheel drive with low-range gearing will be offered.

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Both 2WD and 4WD Ranger models will be available, each with Dana Trac-Lok differentials. That electronic system enables the driver to choose one of several modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand. Trail Control works like low-speed cruise control to help the Ranger deal with tough, technical off-road situations. It works from 1 to 20 miles per hour. It's meant to enable the driver to concentrate on the terrain instead of varying the throttle over terrain like a two-track dirt trail through the woods. Traditional leaf springs and shock absorbers help control a solid rear axle. A locking rear differential and a new fully boxed frame will be unique to the North American model.

Ford will offer the Ranger here in Super Cab and Super Crew body styles.

"When you pair that with its 10-speed transmission, you've got one of the most versatile, powerful and efficient powertrains in the segment".

Ranger will arrive early next year in three trims: XL, XLT and Lariat.

Inside, the 2019 Ranger features an 8-inch touch screen for the available SYNC 3 system, while the instrument cluster features dual LCD productivity screens for real-time vehicle, navigation and audio information. Two interior colors are available as well: Ebony and Medium Ash. (We weren't allowed to climb inside, as the models on display are preproduction.) There's waterproof storage under the second-row seating. If you've got muddy or wet gear, tilt the seat bottom up and drop it in the bins. 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.

Similarities to other Ford products is carried on inside Ranger, where the dash panel design is similar to F-150 and the Edge. No mention of price either.

Ford isn't specifying engine output other than promising best-in-class torque.

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