There's no question brand loyalty is a difficult response to cultivate nowadays, especially if you decide to leave an entire segment, like Ford. Although we never heard anyone at Ford make this argument, we suppose some internal folks probably thought in-market Ford Ranger owners would take the bump up to the half-ton F-150, while others might be attracted to other price-prioritized choices like the Escape or Focus. Regardless, they thought they'd stay within the brand.
The Detroit News makes a valiant attempt at trying to find out exactly where all those midsize-truck buyers are going, now that the Ranger is no longer being sold. Some experts seem to think they're going to different brands, while others are suggesting they may be leaving the small-pickup segment altogether.
At one time, the Ranger was a major player in the compact/midsize segment, but neglect and lukewarm sales — without any corporate or dealership promotion) — seemed to conspire against this little truck (size-wise, the smallest sold) until the shrinking segment numbers made it an easy choice for Ford accountants to kill off.
PickupTrucks.com put the Ranger against its segment rivals in our 2012 Midsize Shootout at the beginning of the year and, as some predicted, it finished last. Even in its last full year of sales, though, it topped 50,000 units (and 70,000 the year before that).
Whether or not Ford will find a financial reason to return to the small-truck marketplace remains to be seen, but there are plenty of fans overseas who seem quite happy with the global Ford Ranger. More to come.