2019 Ford Ranger: An Old Friend Returns

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Losing the Ford Ranger in 2011 was like seeing a childhood friend leave the country with his parents after grade school. You knew that he was out there, traveling the world, having a great time without you, and you wished that he was still here to bum around with at home. We watched from afar as the global Ranger grew up, got bigger and more sophisticated, had a number of adventures from the Australian Outback to the bogs of Europe to the jungles of South America, and wondered when it was finally going to return home.

Well, the Ranger has finally returned — bowing at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit — and we're excited for it. Yes, the 2019 model looks a lot like the version that's been on sale in global markets for the better part of the last decade, but it's still new to the U.S., and as such it appears as a fresh face. It's also stylishly in keeping with the rest of the Ford lineup, but interestingly it's more like Ford's compact SUV lineup than the pickup truck family. It doesn't look like an F-150 at all, but it does resemble the Escape SUV — inside and out. That's not a bad thing, as the global Ranger always has been an attractive truck, and those good looks set it apart from foreign and domestic competitors. I do wonder, however, how U.S. truck buyers will respond to white "Hankook" lettering emblazoned across the tires.

Inside, the Ranger looks appropriate ... I hope. There's a lot of hard plastic, but that's not unusual for the mid-size pickup class. Sit in a Chevrolet Colorado, and you'll find similar materials minus the array of technology that the Ranger sports. The Ranger's optional digital display is nicer than anything in GM, Toyota or Nissan pickups. The top spec Lariat, however, isn't as nice inside as a GMC Canyon Denali. Close, but not quite. So, the mid-sizer's success will depend on how the Ranger is priced: It's got more tech than the GM trucks and a better multimedia system than Toyota or Nissan, but the interior materials aren't nice enough to justify as much of a price premium compared to its competitors.

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The powertrain is going to set the Ranger apart, however. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission is basically the powertrain from the Mustang, with some obvious modifications. The 10-speed is brilliant in the F-150 and Mustang, so we're definitely looking forward to trying it in a light truck. A lack of full-time all-wheel drive likely isn't going to be a problem, but again it will put the Ranger at a disadvantage versus the Canyon in a premium-truck head-to-head contest. There's no diesel yet, either, but we know that the 3.2-liter five-cylinder in the Transit van fits in the Ranger (it's the engine used in the global version), so now that the diesel has been federally approved for emissions in the Transit, I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in the Ranger, too. A Ford engineer even let slip that Ford is looking at other options for powertrains, such as electrification. Interested in a plug-in hybrid Ranger? Of questionable utility is the low-speed off-road cruise control called Trail Control, but we'll reserve final judgment until we've driven it.

Overall, the return of the Ranger is exciting and long overdue. Ford finally realized that not everybody wants an F-150, regardless of how cheap or low-spec it's made, and not everybody wants to use a Transit Connect in place of a mid-size truck. With the mid-size pickup class continuing to gain momentum, the injection of the Ranger into this market segment is a welcome development.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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Comments

Meh

The competition in the mid size category is owned by Toyota. I bet this truck will sneak in just behind them, and challenge them in the future.

-CT

Hmmmm.

All the disinterested comments from the first posting required Mark to put in another article per Ford.

Sounds like a really bad advertisement.

It's really amazing that Ram and GM even send vehicles for testing when you read some of these write ups.

Give the drivetrain a chance. Wait till you see some stats for payload, acceleration, fuel economy.

Pricing is a huge issue.

For several years Nissan has been able to compete in the mid size space with an ancient Frontier because

a: it's a competent choice for folks wanting a mid size truck
b: it's priced well under the competition.

It's a safe bet that GM midsize trucks are getting some fresh lipstick by the time that Rangers actually begin appearing in showrooms and we can assume that Toyota and Nissan will be showing fresher--if not all new--products by then, all of which means that Ford will fall flat unless consumers see value in the product, and opportunity in the pricing.

@andrwken I have to agree. Mr Williams has quite the hard on for Ford, even this copy cat vehicle from overseas gets praise. It's a joke and a half. GM, RAM, Toyota, and Nissan will never win on this site.

In 2019 The #1 midsize spot is owned by Toyota, #2 Colorado, #3 is either the Nissan frontier or its going to be the Ranger....
I really don't think ford is going to move past the third spot

Who cares about sales!!! Toyota owns this market because of brand loyalty! The new Tacoma is not better than the GM twins!! That is a fact, but it was SO GOOD in previous years, its customers stay with the brand. I believe Toyota will step up its game in the next model with better power-train and it will make the twins better and hopefully make this Ranger better, bc no diesel and V6 is a SHAME!!!

Saying this will outsell the twins when it hasn't even been released yet is ludicrous!!

Wait for the comparisons. They should be interesting!

I don't see how Ford can dominate the segment when they bring a 6-year-old truck they already had mated to a mediocre engine they already had. The entire interior is binned and the exterior (front) is styled to global tastes. That wouldn't be so bad if they brought the 2.7 or a diesel but one engine, one transmission, and one wheelbase show Ford's disinterest in the segment.

taco and Colorado,frontier are all in serious trouble

That first paragraph makes me think that Mark Williams would really prefer to be writing romance novels.

@Jose

Ford's queen is the F150. This Ranger is Ford's easy way to compete in the segment and satisfy their dealers. The 2.3 and the 10 speed should be the combo of choice for 80 percent of Ranger buyers.

The diesel is probably in the pipeline, but the F150 is getting the diesel first, then the Ranger. It just makes more sense.

The 2.3 is still a sophisticated piece.

All alloy block/heads, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder. Ford has a lot of experience building this engine so it should be a champ. Turbo is a question mark, but not a huge gamble. In ordinary boulevard driving the 2.3 should be sweet.

Looks ok, better than the Chevyota Tundarado!

@Jose

Ford's queen is the F150. This Ranger is Ford's easy way to compete in the segment and satisfy their dealers. The 2.3 and the 10 speed should be the combo of choice for 80 percent of Ranger buyers.

The diesel is probably in the pipeline, but the F150 is getting the diesel first, then the Ranger. It just makes more sense.

The 2.3 is still a sophisticated piece.

All alloy block/heads, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder. Ford has a lot of experience building this engine so it should be a champ. Turbo is a question mark, but not a huge gamble. In ordinary boulevard driving the 2.3 should be sweet.


\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Very few people have problems with turbos anymore.

Ford's reputation on the valvetrains is what's suspect.

Ford finally realized that not everybody wants an F-150, regardless of how cheap or low-spec it's made????

Cheap??

@andrwken I have to agree. Mr Williams has quite the hard on for Ford, even this copy cat vehicle from overseas gets praise. It's a joke and a half. GM, RAM, Toyota, and Nissan will never win on this site.


Posted by: Trucky048 | Jan 16, 2018 8:00:47 AM

\\\\\\\\\\\

It's all in the presentation with Mark.

If anything but a Ford wins a benchmark, it may as well have an asterisk behind it.

If a Ford wins a benchmark, it sounds like Ford marketing wrote the analysis.

Quite disappointing.... they just sugar coated the global ranger.. so boring. It already looks outdated and it hasn’t even gone on sale here in the U.S.!

Looks like Ford is paying this site very well...

Ranger is late to the party and will cannibalize sales of the F-150...

@andrwken
"All the disinterested comments from the first posting required Mark to put in another article per Ford."
I think you're wearing your tinfoil hat a little too tight.

Very few people have problems with turbos anymore. Ford's reputation on the valvetrains is what's suspect.
Posted by: andrwken | Jan 16, 2018

@andrwken

Yes, correct. I meant that Ford's product quality with the Ecoboost is an unknown in the Ranger until there's some seat-time and miles driven. The inline engine's timing chain is much shorter than a V8 or V6. Should not be an issue, but time will tell.

@ papajim

If they wait to bring the diesel another two years, they will only be further behind. Especially if they keep this body design.

As far as the 2.3, I will simply reference its history in the Focus RS. I'm sure Ford has made appropriate changes but that may not be enough to change minds.

Also, correct me if wrong but isn't the 2.3 a high revving engine that may be better suited to sport/performance vehicles than towing and payload.

Can hardly call it an old friend. Nothing like the old one. Name only.

Mark Williams just wrote 8 different articles about the new ram 1500 and now people are crying that he's Ford biased because he wrote two about the ranger. Pretty sure mark drives a toyota.

@andrwken
"All the disinterested comments from the first posting required Mark to put in another article per Ford."
I think you're wearing your tinfoil hat a little too tight.


Posted by: FXDX1450 | Jan 16, 2018 9:15:05 AM

I think your blue Kool-aid blinds your vision.

An opinion for an opinion, right?

Judging by the posts here it's pretty obvious I'm not the only on that sees the bias in Mark's journalism.

Quite disappointing.... they just sugar coated the global ranger.. so boring. It already looks outdated and it hasn’t even gone on sale here in the U.S.!

Posted by: PainfulWhale | Jan 16, 2018 9:13:42 AM

Couldn't agree more. Way too late with vanilla like styling. Hey, let's give Ford some credit here, this product is a result of FORD'S main effort to protect it's F-150. Ford knows that because they are so late, there are no masses of cross shoppers left for a midsize truck. Any sales will be a direct cannibalization of the F-150. Clearly their efforts to protect the F-150 has been a success.

Yes, correct. I meant that Ford's product quality with the Ecoboost is an unknown in the Ranger until there's some seat-time and miles driven. The inline engine's timing chain is much shorter than a V8 or V6. Should not be an issue, but time will tell.


Posted by: papajim | Jan 16, 2018 9:18:20 AM

I do agree with you on the timing chain. I question the output of that motor in relation to reliability over time.

The old Rangers never died. Both v6's were strong and no one really cared if they got good mileage or had insane numbers. If they are looking to cater to those buyers, they need to have that mentality again.

Not trying to age discriminate, but around here it seems the smaller trucks are being run more by the 50 and up crowd. Is that the marketing focus?

Hopefully Ford has learned from past experience. They updated the Ranger in 1994 and did nothing with it after that, and they wondered why sells went down.....hopefully they will try and keep up with the rest
I for one will not buy a truck cause it has the bestt gadgets, just give me a am/fm radio, and the basic gauges and I am good to go....don't need no navigation, wi-fi hub or most any of the nanny stuff...

Hopefully Ford has learned from past experience. They updated the Ranger in 1994 and did nothing with it after that, and they wondered why sells went down.....hopefully they will try and keep up with the rest
I for one will not buy a truck cause it has the bestt gadgets, just give me a am/fm radio, and the basic gauges and I am good to go....don't need no navigation, wi-fi hub or most any of the nanny stuff...

They updated the Ranger in 1994 and did nothing with it after that

@Dave

Wrong.

I owned a 94 and a 2010. The Ranger received independent front suspension, they replaced the 2.3 Pinto motor with the 2.3 DOHC Mazda motor, upgraded to a 5 speed auto, and added 4 wheel disc brakes between 94 and 2010.

As a Ford guy and a potential buyer of the Ranger, Ford has really misses the boat here. I am not interested in a four cylinder. They have decontented this thing so much from the
Aussie version it is now a joke. They are trying to protect the
F 150 and this strategy will fail. No V6, no diesel, no 6’ bed with
Crew cab = no sales. I doubt this thing will do 30k units in the first year.

I gave up on Ford years ago is this trucks main drivetrain fwd or red?

Rwd*

I wonder if Ford plans to compete with the other midsize trucks by pricing it lower than other brands. The design is old but updated and modern. The power train is borrowed. I'm thinking the only reason Ford brought the ranger back was they decided they could build and sell it for less than the competition. They've already recouped the engineering costs. It's not leapfrogging the competition, but it could do really well if they can price it competitively, especially in the first couple years as it will be all new to those of us in North America. Eventually I will buy either one of these or a Colorado as a used truck, depending on price and gasoline engine fuel economy.

Not trying to age discriminate, but around here it seems the smaller trucks are being run more by the 50 and up crowd. Is that the marketing focus? Posted by: andrwken | Jan 16, 2018

Please understand. Ford is doing this to satisfy dealer demand. I can't tell you about their marketing.

Some folks in my extended family were Ford dealers in the rural midwest. I bet 75 percent of their sales were pickups, and they were losing sales because of the Ranger being dropped.

Losing the Ranger back in 2012 or so was a big deal.

I doubt this thing will do 30k units in the first year.
Posted by: Eric Hardesty | Jan 16, 2018

You gotta be kidding Eric! They'll do advance sales of thirty thousand Rangers without breaking a sweat.

Have you seen the price of the new half ton trucks lately?

Mid size trucks may even become "the new normal" if they can keep the price of a nicely appointed 2wd Ranger or GM under $40k

Not trying to age discriminate, but around here it seems the smaller trucks are being run more by the 50 and up crowd. Is that the marketing focus? Posted by: andrwken | Jan 16, 2018

Please understand. Ford is doing this to satisfy dealer demand. I can't tell you about their marketing.

Some folks in my extended family were Ford dealers in the rural midwest. I bet 75 percent of their sales were pickups, and they were losing sales because of the Ranger being dropped.

Losing the Ranger back in 2012 or so was a big deal.


Posted by: papajim | Jan 16, 2018 9:48:27 AM

Makes perfect sense.

I think Ford's Rangers strategy, i.e. limited options, can work if the Ranger is competitively priced, like current Nissan Frontier pricing.

I'm anxious to hear what Frank's impressions are of the new Ranger. Greatest mid-size every I'm sure coming from the biggest Ford nut swinger here. LOL

I'm anxious to hear what Frank's impressions are of the new Ranger. Greatest mid-size every I'm sure coming from the biggest Ford nut swinger here. LOL


Posted by: Military Grade Kool-Aid | Jan 16, 2018 11:28:44 AM

Nice try Sir, to be frank, I hate it. I certainly hope don't blow it on the Bronco.

I don't think it's gonna cannibalize sales of the F-150.

- If it's similarly priced than the F-150, buyers will prefer the looks and performance of the F-150. This Ranger is too "globally" styled.

- If it's priced under the F-150, it will be bought by ford fans that can't afford a F-150.

Of course maybe it finds its own niche, like the Frontier did, but I don't think there's gonna be sales cannibalization. It's an evidence that Ford is protecting F-150 sales.

TNT, nobody talked about outselling GM, because they are not in first. This truck will most likely come out of the gate in second behind Toyota. Mainly because it is a Ford, and if you read the sales figures monthly on here, Ford knows better than anyone how to sell vehicles. Does that make them better? Absolutely not, but sales is what matters. I am a current GM guy, but I can see 2 trucks can't outsell Ford in the halton+ category. Sales is the bottom line, and people will continue to buy. I know lots of Ford folks, who are closely watching the new Ranger, waiting for it to come out.

-CT

Maybe it's also bought as a daily commuter / grocery getting truck by Ford fans that already own a Superduty or a F-150, but this also is not a sales cannibalization case.

Ford did a great job with this new Ranger even if it's a modified design of the global Ranger out for a few years.

I was hoping to be shopping next year at this time for a Lariat Crew Cab with a FX2 package, but the lack of a 6' bed option is a deal breaker for me. I do think Ford will give us a +12" wheel base version so that the same long bed available on the extended cab version will be able to be fitted to a LWB crew cab.

The Taco and GM twins have crew cabs with a long bed option, so you'd think in order to be competitive, Ford will do the same? I hope so, but Ford has made some major blunders over the years with the Ranger....
1) Letting a great truck go so long without updates until no longer competitive in the market... Sure sales will drop (WTF)!
2) Vacant in the NA market from 2012-2018. Got to be in the game to play!

So, who knows??? I'm just glad to see it back!!!

I bet this truck will sneak in just behind them, and challenge them in the future.

@ CT....This was your quote!!!

You stated that it will sneak behind Toyota, and the twins are behind Toyota, so YES, you did say in a sense that it would outsell the twins.

Ford outsells GM bc it also has LOYAL customers. If more people would cross shop they would see that there are other trucks out there that are better!!! I would love to see how many F150 buyers are actual lease vehicles....bc many those people just hand in the keys and get another f150 and head out the door bc their payment stays the same or is sometimes less. I work with 6 people who do that, and I know 4 others that do that as well.

It would be interesting to find out really how many are lease vehicles...BC it gets pushed LARGELY here in the Midwest!

TNT- lease? who cares, again its about sales. Sure loyalty is at play as well, but again sales is what counts. Would you be upset with GM if you found out that 40% of their trucks were lease vehicles? I could care less. Just sayin.

-CT

Looks like Ford is paying this site very well...

Ranger is late to the party and will cannibalize sales of the F-150...
Posted by: oxi | Jan 16, 2018 9:13:57 AM

Ford had initially said it wouldn't bring a mid size Ranger to market because it would cut into F-150 sales. Chevy proved that theory true. Colorado sales definitely hurt the Silverado while never putting as much as dent in Tacoms armor. I like this Ranger, it is very much global and "import" looking. I think Ford was very smart in doing this. It will save them tons of money and it will never be confused with an F-150. It will however possibly appeal to Tacoma and Frontier buyers IF it is priced right. The 2.3 is pushing 300hp in most configurations and over 300lb ft of toque which put it on par in this class. I will reserve judgment until I see real world testing, but I think Ford is seriously missing the mark by not offering the 2.7 EcoBoost. It would be a game changer. The 3.3 should be offered if nothing else. I don't see a 3.2L Diesel being offered when the bigger F-150 will offer a 3.0L Diesel. This is a U.S. specific frame design and powertrain, so other than borrowing the metal that they already have stamping for, this is an entirely new truck. I would imagine borrowing the (inverted) interior would have been a worth while cost saver also.

@ CT

I care about lease bc you are never owning a vehicle!!! You are borrowing it!! I like to customize my vehicles and add things to them to differentiate them from others!!! That's just me though!!

Plus, I would like to know how many lease vehicles are sold by each company. It would be interesting!!

Big big failure from Ford!

reading the comments it's easy to tell all the Ford Haters are really worried that not only is Ford going to own the full size truck market they are also going to own the compact truck market too

these guys hate their Chevy and Ram and the only way they can justify the mistake they made is to trash Ford

just like a failure thinks everybody else is a failure
just like a thief thinks it's ok to steal cause they think everybody else is a thief

you guys can't fool me

go check fastlane they have a better coverage,,,

Comments are much cleaner also.



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