Sub-Ranger Ford Pickup Spotted?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
sub ranger ford pickup spotted

We’ve heard rumblings about Ford’s plan to bestow a small, unibody pickup on North American customers before, but now there’s photographic evidence.

Images published by Ford Authority show what appears to be a van tooling around the automaker’s Dearborn campus, but is actually a compact pickup wearing an entire tent of camouflage. A telltale trademark filing and reports over the summer are now starting to bear fruit.

In July, Ford filed a U.S. trademark application for the Courier name, which many will recall as the moniker applied to a number of tiny Ford pickups offered in overseas markets. The most recent Courier, built in Brazil, used the Fiesta as its starting point. Earlier, from 1972 to 1982, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda as the Courier in North America (note the gorgeous example in the lead photo).

At the time of the trademark filing, a Ford spokesperson told Car and Driver that the company would be “significantly expanding our North America lineup with all-new vehicles and entering new segments with fresh designs and white-space silhouettes that will position us for even more growth.”

Entering new segments, eh? Just days earlier, a report cited sources with knowledge of Ford’s product plans. Apparently, they said, the automaker plans to introduce a unibody pickup based on the next-generation Focus line’s C2 platform (which won’t underpin any Focuses anywhere near here). This is the versatile architecture Ford’s European head of engineering, Joe Bakaj, once c alled the “holy grail.”

In the spy photos, what looks like a van reveals itself as a truck in a number of ways. Mainly, via a failure of camo to convince the viewer of the van pretext. With the long-awaited Ranger appearing on dealer lots within a month, evidence of an America-bound compact truck shows that Ford’s not about to leave a non-car segment untapped, even if its profitability is still a big question mark. How small is too small for the U.S. truck buyer? How low a price would Ford have to slap on it to make the Courier an attractive buy?

With Hyundai almost certainly launching a unibody pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept in the coming years, the Courier wouldn’t be without rivals. It might also prove appealing to small fleet buyers, which already gobble up Ford’s Transit Connect van in considerable numbers.

Based on everything we’re hearing, the little Ford truck will go into production in Mexico to avoid the chicken tax and keep overall costs down. A launch will likely come in 2021.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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  • Findauto Findauto on Dec 17, 2018

    I saw this type of Sub Ranger Pickup in many Hollywood movies and it's seem very useful. So I also want a truck like this.

  • Mechimike Mechimike on Dec 17, 2018

    I passed a 1990's S-10 the other day, and remarked to myself that I really miss true compact pickups. The S-10, Ranger, et al were great little trucks. The key word being "Little". A modern Colorado is about the same size as a late-60's full-sizer. Even if a modern compact truck were unibody and (gasp) FWD it would probably sell well...heck, possibly even better than if it were full frame and RWD. Offer AWD and it'll dominate anywhere in the snow belt. I it can get 30 mpg and ring out the door somewhere close to 20k I think they'll sell in good enough numbers to make it profitable. I just bought a new Mazda 3, but I looked a bit at trucks before I did. The smallest and cheapest (A frontier) was still a bit too big for what I wanted, plus, Nissan *shudder*. Sorry, my credit score is above 650.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
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