Can Ford Create a New Ranger?

Ford Transit Stakesides II

Illustrations by Mark Stehrenberger

There's been a lot of debate about whether Ford should get back into the entry-level pickup truck segment. Whether you call it compact or midsize, common sense dictates that many people are interested in a downsized pickup. Unfortunately, Ford has been clear from the beginning: Its data doesn't support investment in a midsize pickup anymore, and besides, most Ranger buyers simply stepped up to F-150s. We think that point is debatable and would suggest there may be more interest in this segment nowadays than ever before.

So far, General Motors is the only company talking about a "three-truck" strategy, where it will offer three clear pickup choices to consumers: small (Colorado and Canyon), medium (Silverado and Sierra) and large (Silverado Heavy Duty and Sierra HD) lineups.

But others could follow. We've been hearing that Nissan could jump into the heavy-duty segment (it makes heavy-duty platforms for the NV lineup). Likewise, we think it would make sense for Ford to experiment with a "small truck," especially since it has two strong and durable van platforms in the Transit Connect and larger Transit that could offer a new, more creative interpretation.

Imagine a new type of smallish pickup truck, possibly with a reinforced unibody chassis and a more modular, reconfigurable rear section. The only thing limiting the possibilities would be Ford's imagination. It has an excellent selection of engines, the load floor could be ridiculously wide and low, and the payload and hauling numbers could be class leading without much re-engineering.

So to give Ford a little push, we've asked forward-thinking design expert Mark Stehrenberger to give us a few looks at what a unibody small pickup might look like. What would a new Ranger or F-100 look like? Let us know what you think, and feel free to offer Ford your best piece of advice, assuming it is in the final stages of making this think-tank exercise a reality.

Ford Transit PU II


They should make the compact like the one shown above the Courier and the midsize the Ranger like the T6 sold globally. That would beat GM's three-truck strategy with five: Courier (compact), Ranger (midsize), F150 (1/2 ton), Super Duty F250, F350, F450, F550 (HD), F650, F750 (medium truck). I was hoping GM would light a fire under Ford's rear with the Collie coming soon.

I do not like the design of these trucks from Ford,Chevy or Ram. Maybe I am just old school but I think they look dumb...what do u guys think?

No Ford can't build sh1t! Just cheap junk with low fleet sale prices. Ford = junk

I think they should make a samll "truck" based on the transit connect front wheel drive only that would apeal to low end fleet sales since some people only want a very basic 2wd this makes sense but a wall behind the front seats and chop the roof off. offer the t6 here would be awesome however the t6 routinly costs more than raptors and platnuim f150s so will it really sell that well, there is no disputing that its a good truck its just wheter people are willing to shell out as much as a KR supperduty TDI for it.

First off, I doubt anyone here likes the looks of the two concept drawings above simply because they are non-traditional. That said, the more aerodynamic shape would offer improved fuel mileage no matter which engine rests under the hood.

On the other hand, if this were sized more like today's compact SUVs, I'm sure there is a market for it.

I love it - Ford Rangers last forever, and there are a ton of fans of this truck. It's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned.

Pickups need a frame, no matter what the size. Its the nature of what they're built for. Work! This vehicle is just a glorified van. Ford can keep this. I bought a Nissan Frontier about a year ago and it has been a good truck-but I will definitely be checking out the new Chevy midsize pickups when the arrive. Full size is just to large for my purposes. I have no large camper to tow or horse trailers so the midsize truck is better for my uses.

A midsize or smaller version of the Atlas would be awesome.

Jeep had the Comanchee with a unibody frame and it was a great truck and the right size. I bought one new in 1988, lifted it a couple inches, drove it for 250,000 miles sold it to my buddy 10 years ago, who has no gone thru 2 sons drving it to school and is now driving it himself. The thing is, that 1988 Jeep was rated the same gas mileage the newer mid-size trucks are. 25 years later and no head way in MPG...

Barring the stupid comments that this thread is likely to have I think Ford has a decent platform in the Transit Connect to have a good small truck platform. It has some payload capacity already and could be beefed up to handle a bit more if it were needed.

I think Ford's biggest issue will be passengers, just like the old Ranger. Any extended cab model will likely need a heavily modified platform, increased power to deal with said platform growth and all of this costs money.

Can they make the truck cheap enough to make sense? Can they get around the chicken tax considering the Transit Connect comes from Turkey?

imo, if you are going to make something this small it needs to be very appealing to young buyers. you know the talk about the "lifestyle" pickups, well it needs to be fun and fit. it can be a small unibody vehice, FWD with AWD optional; i know what everyone is thinking but if chrysler can do it with the new cherokee (4WD) so can ford with a small pickup. this truck should have the low, wide floor like you stated and have a removable/convertible roof (this is one thing that would make it "fun" like the old blazers and broncos). see, a modern small pickup has no real purpose for real truck stuff, say industrial, but it can be fun, get you to places and carry your various items around like your surf board, tools, etc. ford needs to think the very first original bronco crossed with the basic shape and size of the last ranger on the van chasis or even the new escape chasis. even offer the bed cap/cover thing like the original bronco/blazers had as an option. engines could be a host of ecoboost engines with the 3.5 as the biggest option. maybe even a diesel.

i guess picture a 2 door (modern) escape with removable roof.

in fact, regular cabs are supposedly going to disappear according to a recent article, they might stay but move to van or car chasis's.

I am not personally digging the look of the sketches, but I do see a market that would by these for their fleets. As far as personal use, I don't think this would be a huge hit.

@Kyle - The Ranger had a decent following, but they tended to buy base model Rangers.

Ford definitely upset a few buyers that left Ford forever (Orkin? AutoZone?) But when looking at the bigger picture, it was time to move on.

Every line of trucks needs to have a plenty or a decent percentage of hard loaded 4 door 4X4 sales to offset the stripper regular cabs. The Ranger only came reg and super cabs and almost no one bought the Ford Sport Trac. Was Ford upset? It would be nice if the masses were ready for and willing to spend 40 - $50K on a King Ranch, Harley Davidson or Platinum Ranger, as fast as Ford could build them.

This isn't about, filling every niche and pleasing every consumer, regardless of profits. GM is taking on a real gamble that Ford and Chrysler can not afford. GM doesn't care because apparently, they're too big to fail and can add it to their list of loss-leaders like the Volt. We can always print more Dollars.

A compact fwd pickup is an interesting idea though. They haven't really resonated with consumers in the past, but maybe the time is right.

I've thought they should have started along these lines before the demise of the Ranger. Yes, these will have a lot of fleet sales, but there are probably a lot of non-commercial people who would be willing to snap this up as well -- self included.
Perhaps a stretch of the Escape platform to offer all-wheel drive variants could be a consideration.

You said it above , only offering the F150 didn't work , there is more interest than ever in small trucks.Truck buyers are looking smaller , more economical , quality trucks that look like the U S big truck & a little less price , same options.Thee t6 Ranger looks to be that,this DOES NOT. GM knows their new truck will take away some large truck sales & if FORD don't do something the competition is going to take theirs. The T6 is a real nice looking truck & FORD appears to already be behind on this market.

If everyone (GM) jumped off a cliff would you follow them?

We all know General Motors cant build squat on their own, hence, the Durajunk.

Now, Nissan is building NV200 Vans for GM. THIS IS F'KEN PATHETIC.

Not a very good day for you to be TROLLING, JOHNNY TROLL!

I think it's too late. Ford has already screwed themselves. The Ranger that was being sold was selling well despite very little R&D being spent on it. Yet, they canned it. S T U P I D .

And as the old saying goes, "You can't fix stupid."

It was CLEARLY obvious that people wanted the current Ranger, with the addition of 4-doors and another engine option. Can you imagine the 2010 Ranger, with 4-doors and a small diesel option? Holy cow... they would literally have sold them faster than they could have built them.

A small, easy to drive, easy to park pickup, with 1/2 to 3/4 ton payload capability, with seating for 4 adults, that gets 25 combined MPGs on diesel fuel, and can tow over 5,000 lbs....that would be the PERFECT working mans' truck. It would have also appealed to small families and guys who commute a lot during the week and work around home on the weekends.

But NO... Ford has to go and do stupid crap and can both the Ranger and the tried and true Econoline van. Two of their very best all time sellers...gone.

And that, my friends, is why Ford almost went under along with Government Motors and Chrysler. Stupid business decisions. Poor management.

This is beyond hope now...nothing they could ever bring to market would ever sell like the Ranger sold.


Relax, FORD has way more knowledge than you would in build Cars / Trucks. Thanks for you opinion.

But you, can't call someone stupid without knowing anything. But thanks for your comment. LMFAO!

@Kyle -- where do you live, dude? Rangers did not sell worth a damn during the last few years of production. I bought a 2010 and 18 months later took a $10k hit to trade toward a new truck.

The dealer I traded it to had it on his lot for a full 90 days before it sold, presumably to a wholesaler. It was in perfect condition with low miles.

Ford would be smart to avoid that mistake. Compact trucks are finished in the US. Dodge lost on theirs, GM is taking a huge risk with theirs. Ford humped the old Ranger into the ground.

The automakers, not consumers will decide what you will be driving.

Welcome to a corporatocracy.

What's that, you say?
You just need a small 4 banger pickup?
Screw you. You'll drive a large v8 truck. You'll drive what we give you. You'll drive an HD truck that gets 10 mpg on the highway.

You know, looking at the two images above, I could see a strong following for a blending of the two. Keep the saddlebags from the tray and replace the tray itself with a bolt-on box. While the interior width might be slightly less due to the box walls, it would offer a completely flat floor for carrying wallboard or even an ATV or other toy.
The overall bed length could easily be 6' or more without grossly affecting the final length of the rig depending on cab size. A standard-cab 8' or an extended-cab 6' would ride the same chassis as they always have while the overall length of the truck would be as much as 2' shorter than full-size. Combine this with FWD or an AWD drivetrain and it makes an almost perfect all-round utility vehicle.

Frankly, the top rendering is perfect, I could stick the mother-in-law in back and actually enjoy a trip somewhere without having to hear her!

Again, not everyone wants or needs a big truck, there's plenty of us who need and want something more practical and efficient, yet fun to drive. Something based off of a smaller SUV platform for light hauling, like an ATV, snowmobile, or jetski, would be perfect. All-wheel drive option would be a huge plus too.


wow i swore i would never post on here again from all the idiotic posts that keep popping up and no moderators to watch over it, but your post is over the top, do you really think the 30 or 40 people on these blogs that actually post speak for the general public ? I would love a diesel 1/2 ton or a diesel ranger too but because myself and 200 hundred other people want it, do you think its viable for a company like Ford or GM to make it cause 4 people on here said they would buy it in a heartbeat? Get a grip man ! All you do is make yourself look more stupid, think before you type, peace

Over the last 15 years the F-150 has become a 3/4 ton truck and the F-250 has become a 1 ton truck.

I would like to see Ford drop the F-250 and just have the F-350. There is only a $895 difference between the two trucks and they are probably at least 95% the exact same truck.

Ford had a HD F-150 a few years ago (pre 2008) and called it a F-250.

Eliminating the redundant F-250 and having the F-150 take its spot would allow room in the portfolio for a smaller F-100 or new Ranger.

The only way a "new Ranger" would work in the US market is if it was based on the Transit Connect(platform-sharing!). Ford simply will not - and they should not - develop a unique platform for a low-volume small truck. It would be a money loser all the way around.

Don't most manufactures offer sub-compact, compact, mid-size, full-size and even luxury size cars? Why couldn't the big three and other brands offer compact, mid-size, full size and heavy duty trucks? There is definitely a compact truck market out there just thinking about young men 18-24 who might want a fuel efficient truck for hauling furniture, mountain bikes, paddling gear and camping equipment. There's no reason a FWD unibody compact with 1000 lb. payload and 3000 lb. towing wouldn't sell like hotcakes. I don't mind the second illustration if it were at least an extended cab or crew cab for 4 adults. Heck that's why my first new truck purchase was a '94 4x2 XLT Supercab Ranger.

Fast forward 20 years and I'm driving an eleven year old 4x2 Lariat F-150 SuperCrew (bought new). To be honest, I'd rather be driving a new smaller fuel efficient T6 "global" CrewCab Ranger with a six foot bed than any new full size. I still use my truck for mtn. biking, paddling and camping, but now have two kids in child seats (CrewCab is a must) and also use my truck for hauling loads of mulch, compost, building materials and tools for trail construction. So yes, bring us a unibody compact that gets 34+ MPG, a mid-size that gets 30+ MPG and continue to carry the large full-size and HD offerings. I definitely see room for a true compact and mid-size trucks, especially when we all know fuel prices will only go up. Bigger isn't always better!

The reason behind the diminishing sales of the ranger/s10 etc was that year after year....they remained the same.None of the oems kept their offerings fresh and modern,yet the prices continued to rise to the point it made more financial sense to buy a full size.Case in point,how long has it been since toyota has done a serious refresh/update on the taco? Also,price out a decently equipped 4x4 taco and your real close in price to a full size comparably equipped.The oems are really quick to put the blame all on the buying public but that isn't true.

I just wish SOMEBODY would offer a true compact truck. I'm not too excited about the new Colorado because it just looks too big and probably not get that great of mpg. It would be no better and not much cheaper than my full size. But a true compact truck would be very nice for running around the farm getting 30 plus mpg and being able to haul the tools I need. I think a true compact truck would sell very well and with a proper diesel could probably push 40 or even 50 mpg. I'd definitely be interested if it was significantly less expensive than full size. And at least for me it would never replace my full size, It would just be an additional vehicle. They need to make it just a step up or maybe two in size from a polaris razor atv.


i think you got it with your statement, im guilty of that myself, i bought a loaded 2004 ranger 4x4 fx4 level 2, once the dust settled it was 34k, it had the 4.0 L motor and a 5 speed tranny, i had this 3 years and bought a 2006 F150 4x4 XTR 5.4 with same options as the Ranger had, got the same mileage as my ranger and the F150 was 32k. I figured why not get the bigger truck for less money, roughly same mileage and i could now tow a 25 ft 5th wheel trailer, pack alot more stuff in the box, carry up to 6 adults comfortably etc etc...

It would be nice if Ranger made a comeback but Ford needs to concentrate on improving the F150 before the new O'Bama mpg requirements kick in. These trucks must reach 30 mpg in a decade. Some trucks have a LONG way to go.

When you say your '04 Ranger was $34k, are you including interest on a loan? The MSRP on that truck was $26k.

My previous post was slightly off topic, so here is a post on target. I'll reserve the thought that a mid-size from Ford will eventually show up as a F-100 anyhow. So onto my honest thoughts of the Ranger returning as a true compact truck>>>

If anyone can pull off a compact truck right now, Yes, Ford CAN DO THIS!!! With the Transit Connect platform or even the platform used for the Escape, they would be off to a good start with platform sharing. Fuel efficiency and practicality would be the primary focus of marketing this truck. I also feel like a FWD uni-body would be the way to go with smaller payload/towing numbers. I would think 1000 lb. payload and 3000 lb towing would have to be the minimum numbers while achieving a minimum 30 MPG. I would still hope to see a CrewCab model with room for 4 adults. I wouldn't expect it to be incredibly spacious but at least par in cabin room with a compact car. If on a platform that would allow for a low bed floor height, keep the bed rail high enough to allow the volume to remain high since the bed length would most likely be 60" or shorter. Another great advantage of a low bed floor height would be the ease of loading motorcycles, ATV's and lawn equipment and should be marketed as such. Modern creature comforts would be a given and with multiple trim levels from bare bones models with fleets in mind all the way up to and including a Limited trim package. Yes, if that trim package sells for the Escape, a compact CUV, why wouldn't it work for a compact truck as well. I also believe having a creative catalog of factory accessories would truly open up the eyes of prospective buyers of how this small truck could be the Swiss Army knife to many outdoor activities. Many of these activities don't require huge payload or towing numbers either, so I would expect to see a multitude of bike, boat, ski roof rack and hitch mounted accessories.

In addition to a base FWD model, I would also love to see an AWD version with a slightly higher ride height and more rugged looks to appeal to the outdoor crowd. I can already see that second illustration in a matte olive green, wheel tracks bumped out slightly with blacked out wheels at SEMA with whitewater boats on the roof, camping gear in the bed and mountain bikes on a hitch rack.

The more I think about this compact concept truck in my mind, the less I think about a new mid-size. I would be interested in hearing more honest and constructive ideas from you all. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

@Brian in NC: Personally, I think you're overestimating what the compact market wants or needs in a truck. Yes, I do agree that a 1000 pound payload is a good number when you count the driver and passengers, but my Saturn Vue was only rated for 2,000 pounds behind it and did very well moving personal gear from an Estate closing and pulling a 10' covered trailer behind with a 2.2EcoTech (Opel) I-4 with 5-speed stick. Most younger and older buyers of such a compact wouldn't need more than that.

Save the higher specs: 1000-1500 pounds on board and 3000-5000 towing for the legitimate "mid-sized" trucks and let the bigger loads ride the full size trucks. Honestly, the 'empty nest' families and the young, single market doesn't need or especially want anything bigger.

I think if Ford puts the 3.2l I5 diesel into their next generation of F150 and sells it at an affordable price, I wouldn't see the need for a Ranger, the MPG's can be had with a larger more capable truck. For a smaller footprint buyers can select a shorter bed and regular cab. On top of that, maybe trucks will get smaller in the future? With MPG requirements that need to be met, I wouldn't rule it out.

This article inspired me that a F-150 diesel could be likely:

@Josh - the emission rules most likely will kill the short box reg cab 1/2 ton. The best way for car companies to exploit the new mpg/emission rules is to build a truck large enough to fall in at the low end of the full sized pickup bracket.
The new Colorado will most likely fall into that spot with the crewcab and extended cab models. The shorter reg cab will unfortunately have to face being the heavy weight in the smaller mpg/emissions class which means having to face tougher requirements. GMC has said they will build the Colorado and another lifestyle truck. That would be a way to target both emissions/mpg classes.
If Ford is to enter this market, they most likely will target being the light weight in the smaller size emissions class. That would mean a trucklet based on the Transit Connect. There have been rumours of that possibility.
They most likely will set up shop in the USA to build the Transit Connect and it would therefore be easy to modify it to make a trucklet.
It would be highly unlikely that Ford would import the Transit Connect as a passenger van and take a Sawzall to it and make a pickup out of it. The other option would be importing a dissassebled trucklet and then "rebuild it in the USA. Both options would be more costly and kill the profit margins to make that approach feasible.

Anyone calling for a crew cab pickup with a 1000 lb payload has no idea what they're talking about. What a worthless truck. Who exactly do you think is the market for a crew cab with a 1000 lb payload? What you're basically asking for is a weak crossover with a bed that isn't strong enough to hold anything. If that is the vehicle you want every single manufacturer already makes it. Its called a crossover with a utility trailer. Or even a hitch cargo carrier for smaller things.

Hooooo care...another's cheap vehicle ...from ford...:))

This looks like a Transit Connect with a different front. Some of the guys on here said that they could take a Transit Connect and do this. Actually this is not that bad. Very versatile from a panel van, to a pickup, to a flat bed. Not a bad idea and would save a lot of money using the same basic truck.

I did say to be cost effective to use an existing platform for any compact truck developed. Import the Transit Connect with just the cab and drive train and slap a pickup bed or flat bed on it. This is just a thought and I will not tell Ford what to do.

I have said it for the last 4 yrs.Ford or someone needs to make a small truck .[really small]. The escape would make a perfect sized small truck.
The platform is already there.

2 door no 4 door or extended cabs needed
basic radio seats ac roll up windowsn no carpet
2 and all whell drive
basic 4 cylinder engine

If ford or someone made this truck they would sell like hotcakes.The problem is if ford gm or ram doesn't make something like this soon some foreign truck maker will because the chicken tax is almost up on these type of trucks.if toyota nissan or some chinese builders makes it first the big 3 will be in big trouble!

Ford should never have quit building the Ranger in the first place. Ford only gives excuses for not building the Ranger just so they can sell more F-150's. A completely new Ranger is what was needed. Not the Ranger from down under either. A new American Ranger. The illustration above is nice but Ford doesn't need to get too wild with the design. I have a 2000 Ford Ranger and would love to replace it but with what? The F-150 is too big for my use.

Frank - Ford is not all knowing as you tried to tell WXMAN. The truth is that they have made many recent and costly mistakes. The whole renaming the Taurus to the 500 and back cost a lot of customers and sales. The GT500 and retro Thunderbird were major mistakes from ROI perspective. Several things that folks will look back upon as blunders are: exiting the compact/midsize pickup market, abandoning the compact SUV market (Escape) for another look-a-like clone CUV, and the upcoming remake of the Mustang into a FWD sport coupe with no ponycar heritage. Mark my words, friends.

@ Ralph - would you rather see a company not take chances by not moving products into new territory?
Who buys Mustangs?
Middle-aged guys. In other words "baby boomers". That is basically 50 - 65 years old. In 10-15 years, makers of conventional retro USA based muscle cars will no longer have a buying public. Harley Davidson is facing the exact same dilemma.
Young people do not buy them.
I rarely see an under 30 guy in a Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger. That demographic or the part of that demographic with money are buying WXR or WRX - ST I's, Evo's or other small Japanese performance cars.
The prior Escape was a best seller but it was crap. Just ask Miath ;)
The new Escape is a best seller.
Was exiting the small truck market in North America a mistake?
That has been the topic of a raging debate for a long time. At the end of the day, Ford cares about profits. They've made over double the profits GMC has made globally.

The retro T-Bird?
I can't comment since I only ever saw one.

The Ford GT? or GT500?
You lost me on that one.
The GT was a halo car that brought Ford attention by playing in Ferrari's domain.
The Shelby GT500 is far from a mistake as a halo car.

The Mustang II was a big mistake.
So was the Edsel.
Ford had some early '80's pickups with huge 'lightening" holes in the frame. That was a huge mistake.
The roll over Explorer's were a huge mistake.

Should we list Chrysler's or GMC's mistakes while were are at it?

@Ralph - A FWD Mustang? Where do you get such crazy notions? What else, a diesel Corvette??? No, neither are happening. The last T-Bird and "500" were just some of the many mistakes and missteps made before Allen Mulally took over as CEO, saving the company from certain meltdown and bankruptcy.

The ROI on the GT500 is irrelevant. The entire Mustang line in very profitable and the GT500 has been grabbing headlines for the past few years, as intended. And likely boosting Mustang sales across the board.

The killing of the Ranger, without a replacement, is along the same line as killing the heavily fleet, Panther/Crown Vic platform. And the soon to die Econoline? Same as the other fleet queens in Ford's past. Just Ford cleaning house, removing dead weight and moving forward.

Yes there are countless consumers 'put out' if not angered by the evolving car market. In a perfect world, you could please everyone.

I hope Ford has more imagination than this pickup truck rendering. I would prefer a compact pickup to look more like the Toyota A-BAT concept or Bison pickup design.

@ Brian in NC
I have severe reservations about an extreme mini Pickup a 1000lb payload would be very light on to say the least.
The Global Ranger could work(with constant updating) but you have the problem of product placement as it would definitely start cutting into F150 sales.

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