Ford Ranger is Back! 2019 Ford Ranger Close-up Look From Steve Purdy
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Ford Ranger is Back!
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
We heard the lament often over the years questioning why Ford’s mid-size Ranger pickup was sold in a variety of places around the world but we could not have it here. GM brought back its Colorado and Canyon, and Toyota kept the Tacoma competitive with regular updates and enhancements. So, why didn’t Ford want a part of that action?
The question might still interest auto historians, scholars and a few media inquisitors, but needn’t bother pickup buyers: They’ll be able to get a new Ranger soon, so they can quit fretting and head to their Ford dealers.
A swarm of journalists, dealers, executives, plant workers, UAW bosses and hangers-on recently gathered on a crisp but sunny fall morning to celebrate the beginning of Ranger’s U.S. production at the Wayne, MI assembly plant just west of Detroit. The Wayne plant first built lumbering, garish station wagons in the 1950s and 60s, then other products came from this sprawling factory, including F-150s. The world, and the light vehicle market was way different in those days. This plant goes back to the days when the automakers and the unions took pride in how adversarial they could be.
That is fortunately no longer the case. Ford reportedly spent $850 million converting the plant from Focus and C-Max production to making thee Ranger. The UAW led as much of the program as did the Ford guys, and both patted each other on their respective backs touting the relationships between the workers and the company. Ford execs were in attendance included the big boss, Jim Hackett, with his business people, manufacturing execs, and lots of PR and communications folks. Much was made of the benefits of worker/company cooperation and the advantages of Ford being a family-owned company.
The Ford guys created a little obstacle course in the big front parking lot of the factory to demonstrate the capabilities of the new-for-the-U.S. smaller pickup. One pile of dirt was used to tip the Ranger sideways at a 25-degree angle, another pile had to be ascended and descended at angles you might not think possible. We’ll strive to arrange a real off-road test one day soon for your edification and my fun.
Ranger’s profile is virtually identical to Tacoma and the GM offerings. The front fascia and interior details will set the Ranger apart, as will the powertrain. If you’re shopping these trucks you’ll want to look at them all and read the reviews, because they are so similar in many ways and more obscurely different in others. Overall capabilities - the numbers, shall we say – will not vary much.
You can have a simple work truck with two doors, rear-wheel drive and fabric seats, or you can have a loaded off-roader with four doors, nice vinyl seats and dressed up for the opera. Three trim levels and plenty of options and accessories will allow buyers to customize their truck. Beginning with the bottom end XL starting at 24-grand, you could load up the top-level Lariat to get it over 40-grand, if you like. Off-roady stuff like a low range, skid plates, electronic assist with trail and rock climbing can be had. The off-road version of Tacoma was benchmarked, we’re told.
As we expect, the Ranger can be had with all the infotainment, connectivity and other electronic stuff we demand today including an 8-inch touch-screen.
Only one powertrain can be had in the Ranger – Ford’s amazing little 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbo four-cylinder that makes 300 pound-feet of torque and around 280 horsepower, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The fully boxed frame and leaf spring rear suspension should give it the capability to act like a truck (towing up to 7,500 pounds when properly equipped) and still have good road manners. We’ll not be able to assess that until we have one in our driveway for a few days.
We were also pleased to hear talk of the next product to come from the Wayne plant – Bronco – expected sometime during calendar 2020. The first-generation Broncos from 1966 to 1977 have been bringing surprising prices at collector car auctions and it will be fascinating to see if Ford can capture that character and ambiance with the new one.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved