Hey, the Ford Ranger is back, and it wants to bring midsize truck buyers a new choice that’s tough, modern, and dripping with driver-assist technologies. Right off the bat, this seems like a smart move by Ford with demand increasing for midsize trucks. Since 2014, sales are up 83 percent and the new Ranger is set to carve out a chunk of that growth for itself.
The 2019 Ford Ranger ticks all the boxes with a new exterior design, chassis, and powertrain. High-strength steel frame, check. 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, check. Ford’s trick 10-speed automatic transmission, check. And there is a wide range of trim levels to choose from: the entry-level XL, mid-level XLT, and high-level Lariat, with available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages. The 2019 Ford Ranger will come in a SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration.
I know, that’s all pretty standard truck stuff, but the 2019 Ranger comes with all the tech modern buyers expect too. Ranger integrates advanced driver-assist technologies like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, a Reverse Sensing System, and a Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage for XLT and Lariat trims.
The Ranger’s FX4 Off-Road Package also includes a Terrain Management System akin to the F-150 Raptor’s. The TMS has four distinct drive modes: normal, grass, gravel, and snow; mud and ruts; and sand. The TMS gizmo can shift on the fly to automatically change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, and vehicle controls to tailor traction, drivability, and performance. You should be able to handle any given terrain or weather condition, which sounds like a very nice and practical thing for a truck to do.
Debuting with the new Ranger’s FX4 Off-Road Package is Trail Control technology. It’s like cruise control for low-speed, rough terrain. Trail Control takes over acceleration and braking, delivering power and braking to each corner so you can focus on steering along the course.
Power & Performance
FoMoCo insists the Ranger is no parking mall poseur and is designed from the get-go to handle the rough stuff. The ground clearance is already plenty high, but if you opt for the FX4 Off-Road Package, the mud/dirt/gravel gets even easier to handle with off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a heavy-gauge steel front bash plate mounted to the frame, and other frame-mounted skid plates. And, as one might expect, the 2019 Ranger will be motivated by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford’s little four-banger has direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger, a 16-valve head, forged-steel crankshaft and con rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams.
Speaking of putting the power down, that all happens thanks to Dana AdvanTEK independent front and solid rear axles on both 2WD and 4WD models. There’s an available electronic-locking rear axle standard on FX2 and FX4. 4×4 models feature 2-high, 4-high, and 4-low configs on the gearbox.
The design of the Ranger is there to reinforce the truck’s practicality, and to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life. The high beltline emphasizes strength, while the raked grille and windshield seek an athletic appearance, according to Ford. The overhangs are short and functional for the clearing of off-road obstacles, while the tailgate itself is beefed up to handle people and cargo. The steel bumper at the back has an available trailer hitch receiver so you can tow all your toys.
Ford says the interior of the new Ranger merges comfort and functionality with room for up to five people and all their stuff. The center stack of the dashboard includes an 8-inch touchscreen for the available SYNC 3 system. The instrument cluster has dual LCD “productivity” screens for real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information.
All this adds up to the inevitable reality that Ford will sell these by the train-load, even though pricing has not been announced.
The 2019 Ford Ranger is on display at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center, downtown Detroit. The show officially opens to the public on Saturday, January 20th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.