At Ford, Cheap Pickup to Replace Cheap, Dead Cars

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Animosity continues to linger from Ford’s decision to cull its low-priced passenger car models… perhaps even here at TTAC World Headquarters. Few would claim that the Ford EcoSport makes an attractive bottom rung on a product ladder that increasingly caters to the middle-class truck or SUV buyer.

That said, CEO Jim Hackett’s promise not to abandon low-end buyers seems to carry weight. Dealers have begun whispering about an upcoming product that should start just below $20,000, and comes with a bed.

It’s a model we’ve talked about before: a compact, unibody pickup reportedly based on the same platform as the Euro-market Ford Focus. Such a vehicle would be Ford’s first small pickup since the demise of the old-generation Ranger too many years ago. In North America, that is. Other markets have enjoyed no-frills pickup action in Blue Oval-badged unibodys.

Spy photos of the heavily camouflaged incoming truck haven’t revealed much; four doors and a short bed is what everyone expected, and the images didn’t disappoint.

Speaking to Automotive News, Ford dealers who attended a meet-up of high-volume retailers in Tucson last month were showed images of the vehicle by newly crowned chief operating officer Jim Farley. While the COO reportedly did not provide a name for the model (Ford trademarked “Courier” in the U.S. last year, though that name’s heritage has far more relevance overseas), he did say its starting price would fall below $20,000 — perhaps making it a cheaper buy than the base EcoSport S, which starts at $19,995.

Slated to be built in Mexico, a locale with extra plant capacity following the death of the Fiesta and Focus, the little pickup will be more of a lifestyle vehicle than a rugged competitor to the larger, body-on-frame Ranger. It’ll have competition in the form of the Hyundai Santa Cruz. One dealer said the model shown in Tucson has sides resembling that of the defunct Ranger, which is good news for everyone. It’s hard to fault the design of the long-gone Ranger.

One useful tidbit to emerge from the dealer meeting was the pickup’s release date: late 2021. By that time, Ford will have long moved past its big-ticket truck and SUV launches. Not only that, but buyers a year and a half from now will face even less choice in the Ford passenger car lineup, what with the midsize Fusion’s pending demise. A wagon-type model is expected to appear in its place, though a little pickup might prove compelling to some sedan buyers — especially if the price is right.

[Image: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Arcadia Ego Arcadia Ego on Mar 10, 2020

    I currently have a GMC Sonoma, and though it is only March here in the mid-west, we have taken 5 loads of leaves and branches to the municipal waste area so far this spring. Usually each spring we do about 15 pick up loads of stuff out of the garden and perhaps 5 or 6 in (mulch, plants etc.). And of course we do 7 or 8 loads out each fall. This does not include 4 or 5 annual trips for lumber for miscellaneous projects - and as a fence is falling down I may be making further trips this year. For me a small pick-up is a rational second vehicle. The trick is that it is 20 years old, starting to rust, and it will eventually die. If Ford could just get its act together and produce something Ranger-ish before my old garden truck dies, I might just buy one.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Mar 10, 2020

    I'm solidly Gen X and I would welcome a new pickup or "lifestyle vehicle" fitting a VW Caddy, Subaru Baja. idea. Something I can put the kids bikes in or the odd run to the home store or anything else that doesn't require a "real" truck. I don't need the bulk of any mid-size truck, let alone full size, for 90% of what I do but having a truck bed would be nice. If I need a big truck, there's always Uhaul, Hertz,etc. My Dad had a 78 Hi Lux and traded in 88 on a new 2wd Ranger. I've always wanted a basic 2wd 80's-90's Hilux, Nissan "Hardbody" or even Mitsu Mighty Max to run around in, but they're long gone here in the rust belt or overpriced elsewhere. Plus, driveway space is a premium, so I'd welcome a little Ford trucklet to replace my 17 Golf if it comes to it.

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