The next generation Ford Ranger has been revealed. This is a rather big deal, given it is dancing very close to the number 1 selling vehicle outright in Australia. Here’s all you need to know and then some, thanks to Ford Australia.
The Important Bits
Ford Australia’s engineers and designers teamed up with customers around the world to create a pick-up they can rely on for work, family and play
With rich input from customers, Ford Australia’s designers created a bold, purposeful exterior design and sleek, high-tech, inviting interior
Next-Generation Ranger offers a choice of proven and durable diesel powertrains, including the addition of Ford’s powerful V6 Turbo Diesel and 10-speed transmission
Ford Australia’s Melbourne based engineers developed an upgraded chassis and suspension that ensures excellent ride and handling, whether riding with passengers, fully loaded with cargo or towing
Cargo area built to help customers do more, with increased functionality and better access
Versatile Ranger model line-up expanded to include Ranger Sport as full-time variant
A Global Ute
Ford today put the global pick-up world on notice by revealing the smartest, most versatile and most capable Ranger ever – delivering an even more desirable vehicle for customers.
Using years of Ford truck expertise and a deep understanding of truck customers, Ford’s design and engineering teams collaborated with customers around the globe to create a vehicle and ownership experience that Next-Generation Ranger owners can rely on for their businesses, family lives and adventure.
“With Ranger, we’ve had a big extended family for decades,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. “This truck has always been a trusted partner to small business owners, farmers, families, adventurers, commercial fleets and so many more in over 180 markets around the world.”
“And with the new Ranger, this is our moment to deliver. Not just a product our customers will love, but an always-on experience that will help us build strong and lasting relationships with them. This is the midsize truck people will want to own and experience.”
In addition to revealing the Next-Generation Ranger, Ford also outlined its “always-on” commitment to customers, with a host of services centred around convenience on their terms. Depending on market, these include service pick-up and delivery, a Ranger Concierge program, and streamlined online service booking options, to name a few.i
“When we reimagined the Ranger, we set out to create more than just a great new pick-up truck; we set out to design a great experience as well,” said Dianne Craig, president of Ford’s International Markets Group.
“We are a family company, and we want our customers to feel like part of our family. The vehicle sale is just the beginning of our journey together.”
The Ranger Life
“We’ve really packed a lot into the Next-Generation Ranger to inspire owners to do more of what they love to do, with features that encourage them to explore new horizons,” said Gary Boes, Ford’s Enterprise Product Line Management director, Global Trucks.
Ford calls this “Living the Ranger Life,” and it’s something shared by every designer and engineer involved in creating the Next-Generation Ranger.
“We’re truck owners too, and this passion for the Ranger lifestyle translates into a passion for the product,” Boes added. “Ultimately, we want our customers’ experience with the pick-up to enable and enhance their lifestyles.”
The Next-Generation Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia. Its international, 2,000-strong team of dedicated designers and engineers worked with teams around the globe to not only incorporate the very latest in Ford technology, capability and safety, but to also engineer and test the Ranger to Ford’s toughest standards.
“Our team was focused on one goal – to make this Ranger the toughest and most capable we’ve ever created,” said Graham Pearson, Ranger vehicle program director. “They put it through one of the most exhaustive global testing schedules we’ve ever developed and would not rest until we were satisfied that it was Built Ford Tough.”
The New Stuff
Customer input was key to developing the Next-Generation Ranger’s rugged new look. Ford spent a lot of time with pick-up owners around the globe, conducting more than 5,000 interviews and dozens of customer workshops to understand how customers used their pick-ups and what they wanted and expected in the Next-Generation Ranger.
Visually, the Next-Generation Ranger is bold and confident, with a purposeful exterior that shares Ford’s global truck design DNA. The design features a defined new grille, and signature C-clamp headlight treatment at the front while a subtle shoulder line down the sides incorporates bolder wheel-arches that gives Ranger a sure-footed stance. For the first time, Ford Ranger offers LED headlights. At the back, the taillights are designed in harmony with the signature graphics on the front. Inside, the car-like cabin steps up, using premium soft-touch materials, and prominent portrait-style centre touchscreen with Ford’s signature SYNC® 4v connectivity and entertainment system.
The reveal models – the capable XL, versatile XLS, stylish XLT, rugged Sport and adventurer Wildtrak – reflect this customer input both inside and out.
“Customers told us the Ranger needs to look tough and needs to inspire confidence,” said Max Tran, chief designer for Ranger. “They were very clear in what Ranger should be, both in the way it looks, and the way it makes them feel.”
Beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase 50mm longer and a track 50mm wider than the prior Ranger. A hydro-formed front-end structure creates more space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine and helps future-proof the Ranger for other propulsion technologies. It also opens up the front of the pick-up to allow more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures low when towing or carrying heavy loads.
“The 3.0-Litre turbodiesel V6 delivers,” says Pritika Maharaj, Ranger program manager. “When you drive a Ranger with the V6 turbodiesel, it feels like a much bigger truck. And it feels really tough in the sense that it’s got endless power and torque, which is exactly what our customers wanted.”
The Next-Generation Ranger will also come with a choice of proven Single-Turbo and the Bi-Turbo 2.0-Litre inline four-cylinder diesels. The Single Turbo delivers power, torque and fuel economy, which is important to small business owners and commercial vehicle fleets. The Bi-Turbo engine is a more sophisticated, performance variant for customers who want more power but need to maintain fuel economy.
“We know our customers push their Rangers to the extreme, so that’s how we test them. We go the extra mile to make sure Ranger will do everything our customers want, over and over again,” Maharaj said.
Transmission choices include an updated 10-speed auto complementing the current six-speed automatic.
To develop the ride and handling expected of a truck customer’s use for a wide range of work, family and play – engineers focused on the fundamentals.
“We have a really wide spectrum of customers,” said Pearson. “On one end, you might have small business owners looking for very work-oriented transportation. They want traditional two-wheel drive with a single cab and a load box to transport their goods.
“At the extreme other end, you have the serious off-roaders who really push their Rangers to the limit with endurance races like King of the Hammers or the Dakar Rally. The Next-Generation Ranger will meet the needs of both types of customers and everyone in between.”
Engineers moved the front wheels forward by 50mm for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation, both of which improve the off-roading experience. They also shifted the rear suspension dampers outboard of the frame rails to give drivers and passengers a better ride both on- and off-road, no matter if they’re carrying heavy cargo for work, or just taking the family out for dinner.
“On the Next-Generation Ranger, we’ve increased the tuning range to give our customers the best of both worlds – think of this as Built Ford Tough Plus – so you’ve got the capability, toughness and durability that Ford trucks are known for, plus comfort and a more car-like ride that Ranger is known for,” Pearson said.
Customers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems, an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or advanced full-time 4×4 system with a reassuring set-and-forget mode, designed for capability when and where customers need it. Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.
Comfort and Technology
Customers wanted a flexible, modern cockpit that caters to both work and family duties. So, Ranger needs to serve as both a workspace and a haven, providing smart and connected features with more comfort and storage options than ever before.
“We know our customers are looking for a smart and functional interior space that feels comfortable. So, we set about designing it with a high level of well-integrated technology, clever functional storage and visual cues so the environment feels comfortable and spacious,” Tran said.
The heart of the Ranger’s connective experience is the large 10.1-inch or 12-inch touchscreen in the centre stack. It complements the fully digital instrument panel and is loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC4 system, which comes customer-ready with its voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems. Additionally, there’s an embedded factory-fitted modem, allowing connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPassTM app, so customers can stay connected to their world. FordPassiii enhances the ownership experience with features like Remote Start iv, Vehicle Status Check and Remote Lock and Unlock functions via your mobile device.
Many of the traditional driving mode controls have been moved from the dash and centre console to their own dedicated display on the SYNC screen. With one button press, drivers can go to Ranger’s dedicated screen for all off-road and drive modes where they can monitor the driveline, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles and other controls.
The screen also is linked to a 360-degree camera to make parking a breeze in tight urban spaces or to assist when negotiating particularly tricky terrain while out exploring. In addition, customers can control Ranger’s new exterior zone lighting system via the touchscreen or the FordPass app, which means they don’t have to work, camp or do anything in the dark. Ranger technology will also be future-proofed to accept software updates thanks to an embedded modem.
“You’ll find the interior plush but with the dual purpose of work and play in mind. The new short- throw e-shifter is central to the layout and is another example of where customers really guided our decision making,” said Tran. “Customers overwhelmingly liked the e-shifter – they liked the fact that it looked higher-tech and that it was intuitive to use.”
The design team also created clever storage and useful features for owners. There are not only places to store your phone or charge it wirelessly (where compatible), but there’s a large centre console bin to stash things. In addition, the door pockets are designed to carry more, the wide dash conceals an upper glovebox and there are storage bins under and behind the rear seats.
Built to do more with better access, more functional space
“When we met with our customers and observed how they climbed up to the load box, we saw a big improvement opportunity,” said Anthony Hall, Ranger vehicle engineering manager. “There were people stepping on the tyre and then going over the side of the truck or hoisting themselves onto the open tailgate.”
That was the inspiration for creating an integrated side-step behind the rear tyres of the Next- Generation Ranger, to create a strong, more stable way for them to access the box.
In addition, the Ranger team worked on making a wider variety of cargo fit and stay secure in the load box.
“Widening the truck by 50mm may not seem like a lot, but it makes a huge difference, especially in the cargo box. It means that customers will be able to load flat some pretty fundamental items, such as a sheet of building plywood or a full-size pallet,” said Hall.
Additional thoughtful, customer-focused touches include a new, tough plastic-moulded bedliner that helps protect both the truck bed from scratches and owner’s knees from kneeling on a steel truck bed. Extra cargo tie down points – on strong steel tube rails – provide convenient points to secure loads. Durable, flexible load box caps around the sides of the box and across the tailgate conceal structural attachment points for canopies and other aftermarket accessories.
In addition, Ranger offers a new cargo management system designed with dividers to hold various sized items – like timber or toolboxes. Owners also can create smaller compartments to store objects, which would otherwise have to go in the cab, using a system of ultra-strong spring-loaded cleats that clip into rails bolted to each side of the cargo box. The tailgate can also double as a mobile work bench with clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.
Zone lighting – controlled via the in-cabin SYNC screen or through the FordPass app – provides 360-degree lighting around the truck to help give customers better visibility around the vehicle. Load box lighting is provided under the left- and right-hand rails and provides plenty of light for finishing up jobs in low light or finding things in the cargo box at night.
The Customer Is Always Right
Just like the versatility of Ranger itself, Ford is designing a more personalized customer experience.
“Our customers told us what they want from the ownership experience – and that’s convenience on their terms. We’re determined to give them that, and even more,” Craig said.
Depending on the market, Ford will offer customers a suite of services to do just that, including:
- Being “always on” – whether you have questions about the vehicle or need assistance. Ford has Ranger Concierges in key markets that will walk customers through whatever they need to know.
- FordPass – customers will be connected to their Ranger 24/7 via their smartphone. They’ll be able to remote start their vehicle – on hot or cold days, to ensure the temp inside is comfortable when they get in or be able to receive notifications that their vehicle is due for service.
- If they have a question or want to learn more about how to best use Ranger’s high-tech features, such as the Ford Pass app, Ford has them covered with its “Master your Ranger” virtual and hands-on education – whatever suits their needs.
- Stay connected to your world while in your Ranger – with Ford’s award-winning SYNC system.
If customers need service or have an issue, Ford is there for them, with offerings like these, depending on the market:
- A Ranger Concierge, who will be their point of contact the whole way till their need is resolved.
- Convenient online service appointments – Ford dealers will even pick up and deliver a customer’s Ranger for them. Or, if they prefer, replace their vehicle while it’s being serviced with another Ranger, so they can continue with their business or family life.
In the future, Ford also plans to offer over-the-air updates, so customers won’t even need to schedule a service for some things. We call it Ford Power-Up software.
“With these services, we intend to be ‘always on’ for our customers, always there if they need us,” Craig said. “That’s our family promise to you. Because Ford is a family company, and our customers are part of our family.”
The ARB 4×4 Accessories and Ford collaboration will initially be rolling out in select markets.
Bowen’s Report Card
The Ranger will be built in Thailand and South Africa. Production starts in early 2022, at this stage we don’t have news on local pricing just yet. However, I’m tipping it will cost a shitload, especially the hero Wildtrak model