It’s been seven years since the Ford Ranger was sold as a new model in the US, but anticipation is sky-high for its return. Australia’s own new Ranger, expected to be launched Down Under soon, offers up a bunch of clues as to what the new U.S. pickup will ultimately be like because the U.S. model does share a basic platform with its Aussie counterpart. Here are 10 things we already know about the state-side Ranger prior to its release here in the first quarter of 2019.
Pickup drivers in Australia are big fans of diesel engines, but the U.S. Ranger — classified as a midsize truck — will have the 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost gas engine (producing 231kW/475Nm), the same engine as the Mustang’s. That engine-and-transmission combination is aimed at making the Ranger better at hauling loads, more fuel-efficient and even faster than its mid-sized competitors.
Gearbox and Drivetrain
The new U.S. Ford Ranger line-up — available in base-spec XL, middle-spec XLT and top-spec Lariat variants — will get Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, again shared with the Mustang.
The Ford Ranger will be available in 2-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive versions, and will have Ford’s Terrain Management System as seen in the F-150 Raptor, but with four modes — Normal, Mud/Rut, Sand and Grass/Gravel/Snow — instead of the new Raptor’s six.
The North American Ranger will be available in 2-door, 5-seat SuperCab and 4-door, 5-seat SuperCrew body styles; there is no single-row cab. The SuperCab has a 6-foot bed, the SuperCrew has a 5-foot bed and both body styles sit on the same wheelbase.
Traditional pickup owners need not fear, because Ford isn’t softening up its new Ranger: It will have a fully boxed high-strength steel frame with six cross-members, a suspension set-up (double A-arm and mono-tube dampers at the front; leaf springs and shock absorbers on the solid rear axle) tuned to cope with extreme work and play demands and Dana axles.
From mid-spec XLT and up, the American Ford Ranger will have a comprehensive suite of driver-safety technologies including auto emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring. The top-of-the-range variant, the Lariat, will also have adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection.
FX Off-Road Pack
All 4-wheel drive Ford Rangers will have low-range gearing and hill-descent control, but Ford will also offer an off-road package called FX2 (for 2WD Rangers) and FX4 (for 4WD Rangers) on every trim level. Both packs include an electronically locking rear differential, heavy-duty, frame-mounted, steel bash-plates (to protect the Ranger’s underbody), specially tuned trail-rated shocks and all-terrain tires.
The FX4 package includes Ford’s Terrain Management system (mentioned above), incorporating all-new Trail Control technology, which the driver can set at a speed between one mile per hour and 20 mph and, by way of controlling engine, transmission and braking response, the system effectively functions as a cruise control on any trail.
The new Ford Ranger has a new front grille, split bumper design, exposed bash-plate and vehicle-recovery hooks, updated LED and HID headlights, new double-bulge aluminum hood, front quarter badges, darkened wheel-arch protectors, Ranger-branded aluminum tailgate with spoiler-style top edge and chunky rear bumper.
Inside, U.S. versions of the Ford Ranger will be similar to Aussie versions in that they will have Ford’s Sync3 multi-media touchscreen — sized 3.8-, 4- or 8-inch depending on trim level – but U.S. Rangers will have Amazon Alexa integration as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The new Ranger will also have, as standard, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices, a new steering wheel design, bigger air vents, as well as Ranger-styled branding on the dashboard and elsewhere inside. Bonus: waterproof storage under the second-row seats.
Ford has not yet officially released any indications of 2019 Ranger pricing, approximate or otherwise, but somewhere in the realm of $20,000 is likely in order to pit the pickup against existing rivals, such as the likes of the Chevy Colorado, the Toyota Tacoma and the GMC Canyon.