2019 Ford Ranger
As if Ford hasn’t already cornered the global market on truck sales courtesy of the F-Series, the lineup is about to be further fleshed out with the (re)introduction of the 2019 Ford Ranger. Needless to say, the resurgence of the iconic offering after an eight-year North American absence, is all the buzz. One might argue that the enduring popularity of the F-150 made the inclusion of a compact truck offering feel unnecessary, but its return is a welcome one.
And it’s no surprise, considering that the midsize pickup segment has increased in sales by 83% over the past five model years. According to Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, “We see an opportunity that didn’t exist years ago.”
The 2019 Ranger will be served up in three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat, and in two body styles: SuperCab and SuperCrewCab. Depending on the trim selected, the Ranger will feature different grille designs, but all represent a more aggressive feel that falls in line with the F-150. Accenting this almost regional aesthetic are durable steel bumpers exclusive to the new North American Ranger.
While we have yet to learn all the Ranger’s performance numbers, we do know that it will feature a single powertrain. Equipped with a 2.-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, it mirrors the engine spec of the Ford Explorer. If that serves as any indication of what we can expect for output, we may see something along the lines of 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. While some may be disappointed by the absence of a manual transmission, there is a sense that accessibility is a cornerstone of this new Ranger’s appeal.
To answer two inevitable questions, (i) there are no immediate plans to offer a diesel variant and (ii) the anticipation of a Ranger Raptor will exist solely outside of North American for the time being. That said, we can only assume it’s a matter of time before the latter (if not both) change. And despite Ford remaining tight-lipped on powertrains, it’s easy to anticipate the possible inclusion of both turbodiesel and hybrid alternatives in the near future.
And the Ranger will also address the evolving expectations of driver-assist and safety features. Such features include (but are not limited to) blind-spot detection, collision warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and emergency braking.
Throughout 2017, most coverage of the Ranger had taken the form of camouflaged spy photos, creating the normal sense of intrigue as to how the final design might differ from the global version that had continued to sell during the Ranger’s North American hiatus.
With the final unveiling, we learn that (in many ways) the Australian-designed 2019 Ranger makes an effort to be the best of both worlds. There are clear attempts to retain consistency with the global version of the Ranger, while distinctive new features are made exclusively for the U.S. Market. And all the while, Ford manages to unapologetically link the Ranger’s aesthetic to the F-Series, with aggressive design cues akin to the F-150.
But Ford’s acknowledgment of the newly-blurred lines between the F-150 and Ranger, are balanced out by admission of the differences between the two models. Without these differences, the F-150’s inarguable popularity would negate any point in pushing for the Ranger’s reintroduction. While the F-Series doubles as work truck and daily driver, the Ranger is more of a commuter vehicle with play/work capabilities. With this in mind, the Ranger also provides a valuable option for those wishing to downsize from an F-150, just as Ford had relied on the F-150 for those wishing to downsize from a SuperDuty.
And in a world where drivers from all walks of life continue to favor crossovers, SUVs, and trucks over cars, this distinction is an important one to support. The F-Series serves as, not only, the best-selling line of trucks in the world, but the best-selling vehicles of all time. While Ford enjoys a considerable lead over even the closest of competition, the inclusion of the Ranger represents an attempt to offer an even more fully-realized lineup. By answering the demand of prospective buyers who may have more modest intentions behind their consideration of a truck, the Ranger serves as a perfect fit.
Whether classified as compact or mid-sized, the Ford Ranger had enjoyed a nearly three-decade-long uninterrupted run as the go-to offering for those who are in search of a Ford but may not require heavy-duty truck capabilities. Built upon a relatively unchanged chassis architecture for its 28-year tenure, the Ranger proved an enduring favorite and the foundation upon which Ford built the likes of the Bronco II and Explorer.
But despite its enduring popularity, the Ranger was discontinued as a North American offering after the 2011 model year, allowing Ford to focus on the F-150 as the tentpole of their lineup. That said, the Ranger would continue to be offered up as a global brand, and continues to stand as the most popular truck offering in Europe. But ever since the announcement made at the 2017 Detroit Auto show, the excitement has continued to build over the Ranger’s re-emergence for 2019 (alongside the return of its retired stablemate, the Bronco).