Talk about hotly-anticipated. It’s been a year since Ford confirmed it would be bringing the Ranger back to the US, and to say that truck fans have been eagerly awaiting it would be the pickup understatement of the year. Now, at the Detroit Auto Show 2018, the 2019 Ford Ranger has finally made its big appearance. Here’s what you need to know…
There’s a single engine at its heart
What’s under the hood is the place where the Ranger most diverges from the larger F-150. Ford’s full-size truck currently offers five different engines, spanning four-cylinder all the way through to V8, and with a diesel waiting in the wings. In contrast, the 2019 Ranger offers a single engine and a single transmission.
Still, that may not be too great a hardship, given the engine. It’s Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost, paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Ford’s use of turbocharged engines for working trucks prompted some raised eyebrows initially, but there’s no denying that their combination of power and efficiency is appealing both on paper and on the road. Final horsepower and torque numbers haven’t been shared for the 2019 Ranger yet, but it’s worth noting that the same engine is tuned for 350 HP in the potent Focus RS.
There’s no bad trim level
Ford isn’t aiming for bargain fleets with the 2019 Ranger, and the trim levels underscore that. The midsize truck will come in three trims, kicking off at XL and running through XLT to Lariat, the most luxurious. On top of that, there’ll be the Chrome package, which adds some glitz to the exterior for those who like that, and a Sport package, which drops the shiny stuff in favor of a cleaner design.
There’ll be two bed sizes, though which you’ll get will depend on the cabin. The SuperCab has the truncated rear doors, but a longer bed; the SuperCrew gets four full doors, but a shorter bed. Both have the same wheelbase length.
There’s no Raptor, but there’s the next best thing
Given just how successful – and how appealing – the F-150 Raptor sports truck has proved to be, it’s no surprise that there were many hoping Ford would do the same for the Ranger. Sadly, at least to begin with, there’s no sign of a “Ranger Raptor” in the line-up. Still, Ford has given us the next best thing.
That’s the 2019 Ranger FX4 off road package. It adds off-road tuned shocks and an electronic-locking DANA rear differential, plus upgraded tires, a steel front bash plate, and frame-mounted reinforced skid plates underneath. There’ll also be an FX2 version, with 2WD. Sadly you don’t get the 450 horsepower of the Raptor, but it does donate its Terrain Management system and so still should be quite the off-road animal.
There’s technology too
Considering pickups were once considered purely working vehicles, the transition of the segment over the past few years into premium and even luxury models has been a significant departure. Ford arguably had a big hand in that with the thirteenth-generation F-150, and the 2019 Ranger too is pushing the upscale message. Nowhere is that more obvious than in its technology.
SYNC 3, with an 8-inch touchscreen, is an option, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s Automatic Emergency Braking as standard, while the options sheet includes lane-keeping assistance and departure warnings, a reverse sensing system, and blind-spot warnings. Dial in how long your trailer is – up to 33 feet – and the blind-spot system will take that into account, too. Top spec Ranger Lariat trim gets pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection, along with adaptive cruise control.
Meanwhile, there’s FordPass Connect 4G LTE with its WiFi hotspot for up to ten devices, a B&O PLAY premium audio system, and plenty of AC and USB outlets. Ford’s Smart Trailer Tow connector can warn of mis-connected links with your trailer’s electrical system, and there are lots of exterior lighting options like LEDs front and back, puddle-lamps, and cargo bed lighting.
This is no pretend truck
Given the fancier styling, single engine option, and more luxurious cabin, there have been some concerns that Ford may have overlooked what made the Ranger so appealing in the first place. Happily, those fears about just how rugged the truck is seem unfounded. Indeed, Ford says it has “torture tested” the 2019 Ranger alongside the F-150, to the same standards.
It’s built on a fully boxed high-strength steel frame, with double-wishbone suspension and monotube shocks. There are parabolic rear leaf springs, and frame-mounted front and rear steel bumpers. Both 2WD and 4WD models will be available, with both having Dana AdvanTEK independent front and solid rear axles. The FX2 and FX4 get an electronic-locking rear axle, too, while 4WD Rangers get 2-high, 4-high, and 4-low.
Even with what we know today, there’s still some big questions Ford still has to answer. There’s horsepower and torque from the engine, for example, in addition to mpg economy figures, along with the towing and hauling numbers that many would-be 2019 Ranger buyers are waiting on. Most importantly, of course, we don’t yet know how much the new truck will cost. Ford is promising to fill us in before the 2019 Ranger arrives in the US early in 2019.