Power Ranger: Ford (Re)Introduces Its Midsize Pickup

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

After watching helplessly as competition from Toyota, General Motors, and Nissan ate its lunch in the midsize truck game, Ford has finally rolled out a new Ford Ranger. Last seen darkening dealer lots as a 2011 model, the old Ranger was put to rest after soldiering on for years with underpinnings dating back to the Jurassic era, or at least the Clinton administration.

No such concerns are on tap for the 2019 Ford Ranger, which deploys all the latest technology ranging, from a Terrain Management System to an off-road cruise control type system called Trail Control. Customer demand for trucks has never been higher, so the time is right for Ford to join the midsized pickup fray. The Ranger’s back, and we hear Sajeev is planning a party.

What most people want to know, naturally, is what’s under the hood. Ford reached into its corporate cupboard and hauled out a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four that has been appropriately beefed up for truck duty. It has direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger, chain-driven dual overhead cams and will be paired with a 10-speed automatic.

Other versions of this engine make around 300 horsepower when plugged into other machines in Ford’s stable. In the Mustang, it actually lays down 310 horses while the RS sees 350 horsepower from the same displacement. We’re confident Ford has sorted out the head gasket installation issue but if not, Bozi will likely be the first one to figure it out.

Conscious of only offering a four-banger in a segment where six-cylinders are readily available, Ford is quick to point out that the engine has a torque target on par with competing V6 engines. In the two applications mentioned above, the 2.3 EcoBoost makes 320 lb-ft and 350 lb-ft respectively. The 3.6-liter V6 found in The General’s mid-size twins makes 275 lb-ft of twist.

Three trim levels will be available at launch — base XL trim, a mid-level XLT, and fancy-pants Lariat. Chrome, Sport Appearance, and FX Off-Road packages will be available. There will be two cab configurations: SuperCab or SuperCrew.

Let’s talk about that FX4 Off-Road package. More than simply paint and wallpaper, the FX4 will have a Terrain Management System similar to what’s found on the F-150 Raptor. There are four distinct drive modes: normal, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, and sand. The system is able to shift on the fly to automatically change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, and vehicle controls. This will tailor traction, driveability, and performance to different terrain and weather conditions.

The off-road toys don’t stop there on the FX4, as it also introduces Ford’s new Trail Control technology. Like cruise control for the highway but designed for low-speed and rugged terrain, Trail Control takes over acceleration and braking by sending power and braking to each individual wheel, allowing the driver to focus on the task of steering. Ford says it can be set anywhere between 1 mph and 20 mph. Power is distributed through Dana Trac-Lok differentials with an available electronic-locking rear diff (standard on in the FX4 package).

Inside, former Ranger owners will think they’ve transported to another dimension, with the old truck’s phone-booth inspired styling wholly purged from the pickup. A center stack features an 8-inch touch screen for the available SYNC 3 system, which will deploy Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Facing the driver is an instrument cluster packed with dual LCD productivity screens for real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information. That’s a long way from the poverty-spec Rangers of old.

A full suite of on-road driver aids will be available, including lane keeping and automatic emergency braking. USB and AC outlets will pepper the interior on certain trims while an available B&O PLAY premium audio is specially tuned for the Ranger’s cab.

The Ranger’s power dome hood and raked grille shows off an athletic profile, with short overhangs surely contributing to good approach and departure angles. The Ranger name is hammered into the tailgate and a frame mounted steel bumper allows for a trick integrated trailer hitch receiver. That tailgate (and the hood) will be aluminum, by the way.

American interest in this segment have risen steadily in the last three years, as most players recorded higher sales and those who didn’t were largely flat. The Tacoma leads the way with nearly 200,000 units sold. The relentless march of full-size truck prices surely drives demand for smaller trucks, as does the desire to not drive a Dreadnought-class pickup in urban areas. Production begins late this year at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant.

TTAC will have plenty of boots on the ground at NAIAS to bring you more pictures and details from the show floor.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Donk1 Donk1 on Jan 15, 2018

    Unfortunately, the US won't be getting the 147kw 470nm 5 pot 3.2 TD version or Ford Connectivity services that we get in Oz. The US market is predominately heavily geared for Petrol/turbo petrol engines, whereas we are heavily skewed for diesel. The diesels a ripper, with 9l/100km or under fuel economy. So out of an 80litre tank means around a 900 km touring range. Pretty good for a near 2tonne Ute.

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    • JMII JMII on Jan 18, 2018

      @Scoutdude I'm more interested in the the oil burner, but as is this new Ranger has more HP and TQ then my '02 Dakota 4.7l V8 (230 HP / 295 TQ) so it would handling my towing needs. Just seems/looks about 10% too big but haven't checked all the dimensions.

  • Frantz Frantz on Jan 15, 2018

    Remember when Ford dropped the Ranger and part of their study was that folks who needed a cheap truck would just buy a stripped F150 or Transit Connect and folks who were buying it just as a cheap vehicle could pick up a Fiesta? Well I'm literally that buyer. I have a nice as I want it '15 Fiesta Hatch S (crank windows, manual transmission). I really enjoy the car actually even though I'm 6' and not as skinny as I used to be. I've been waiting to see what this Ranger would offer as a replacement. I do live on a farm, so a small truck would be helpful (thousands of pounds of chicken feed have been hauled in my Fiesta... only a few hundred at a time). My income job puts me on the road plenty. Still, I'm not seeing much of a base cheap truck option here... So when it comes time to replace the Fiesta... if I stick with blue oval (which I'd like to), I'm up to the F150. Bigger than I'd like for daily use... but maybe I'll be making more money by then. The Transit Connect really doesn't offer a better value for the dollar over the F150 and the wagon versions aren't even close to cheap. IDK.... for me, Ranger seems to miss the mark. Not that Ford makes much money off me when I buy these cheap cars, but it mattered enough for an official comment when then dropped the Ranger and replaced with the Fiesta/F150/Transit Connect options. I know nobody cares about my personal story, but it goes with past Ford statements on the topic.

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain