Ford is anticipating their new Ranger will cannibalize a small portion of F-150 sales, but is expecting the combination of trucks will win more buyers over to the blue oval.
DETROIT — Better late than never, or better than ever?
This week, Ford took the wraps off the 2019 Ranger, its compact pickup truck that’s been available globally for years and hinted at for North America at every opportunity. Ford is hoping Ranger’s array of features still makes a splash in a resurgent compact pickup segment despite coming in years after its rivals.
Ford dropped the once-popular model when tastes in trucks veered to full-size, and as full-size became super-size, space started to open up again for a compact truck that’s really not that compact.
In size, the Ranger — as well as its competitors Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma — resembles what was once the full-size truck.
In a fitting comparison, in the Chevrolet stand across the aisle from where Ford unveiled the Ranger, a vintage Chevrolet C10 pickup stood next to a new Colorado.
Except for the lowered suspension, the C10 looked similar in size to the Colorado.
Despite a prolonged tease to Ranger — hints have been dropping for a number of years — Ford executives refused to entertain any questions about being late to the party.
“We’ve made a lot of investment in F-150, and we think now is the right time,” Ford of Canada president Mark Buzzell said in an interview.
“There’s a lot of parts of Canada and the U.S. that have been asking for this truck.”
Buzzell said Ford is anticipating Ranger will cannibalize a small portion of F-150 sales, but is expecting the combination of trucks will bring more buyers over to Ford, muting any impact of eroded F-150 sales. He said Ranger is one more opportunity to get buyers looking at Fords, whatever they buy.
“We think we’re going to have a successful entry into this truck segment and help grow our truck business overall.”
He said the target customer is a driver who will use it as a daily driver but who heads out on adventures come the weekend.
To launch, the Ranger, which is due out about this time in 2019, will come with one engine, a 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The goal is to provide V-6 power with four-cylinder fuel economy, but as previous EcoBoost engines have shown, that only goes as far as drivers’ willingness to leave any lead feet at home.
Four-wheel-drive versions will feature the standard 2Hi, 4Hi and 4Lo settings.
The Ranger is coming to market dressed for off-roading, with a suspension setup designed to maximize ground clearance, while FX4 off-road versions get frame-mounted skid plates, off-road shocks and a heavy-gauge steel front “bash plate.”
All Ranger 4x4 models get DanaTrac differentials, while FX4 models will get an electronic locking rear differential.
In a modern twist from its predecessor, the FX4 off-road package brings to the compact truck a four-wheel-drive system as sophisticated as any SUV. Where the old 4x4 Ranger had but one knob — 2Hi, 4Hi and 4Lo — the FX4 version comes with Terrain Management, a system also available on Explorer and Expedition.
Terrain Management manipulates a variety of vehicle parameters according to the demands of the driver: in sand mode, for instance, traction control operates momentarily to get the vehicle moving but then is deactivated while in motion, since wheelspin is necessary on sand. Sand mode also speeds up throttle response to more quickly get the wheels up to speed.
In snow mode, the throttle response is muted to try to prevent wheelspin, and traction control is fully engaged.
Body styles will include regular cab, extended cab and crew cab variants.
The styling of Ranger is unique to Ranger, with few familial attachments to F-150’s bold, aggressive style.
Pricing and detailed specifications will be revealed closer to launch.