For 28 years the Ford Ranger was a key player in the mid-size pickup truck market.  Its size and price were an attractive alternative to the full-size trucks available from 1983 to 2011 – and, as it got older, its steadily dropping cost kept driving sales.

Ford ended Ranger  production in 2011 and they weren’t alone, as each of the American manufacturers ended production of their midsize trucks. For a while the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier were the only mid-size pickups on the market and sold well.  

After a short break, GM reconsidered and brought back its midsize twins – the Colorado and Canyon – and sales took off. Ford’s new  Ranger adds to the midsize truck renaissance, good news for Canadian truck buyers..

The new Ranger was recently debuted in San Diego and bears no resemblance to its now distant relative. On the outside the 2019 Ranger evokes a muscular body with a high beltline that emphasizes strength, while a raked grille and windshield are designed to give it an athletic appearance. This raked feature also aids in aerodynamics and reduces wind noise. From the rear, the Ranger identifies itself loudly with its name stamped into the tailgate. New headlamps and taillamps are available as LED’s.

Inside, Ranger blends comfort and functionality with room for up to five people, their gear and accessories. The center stack is home to an 8-inch touch screen for the available SYNC 3 system, while the instrument cluster features dual LCD screens for real-time vehicle, navigation and audio information.

The Ranger comes in  XL, XLT and top of the line Lariat trim levels, with SuperCab (four doors; clamshell configuration) or  SuperCrew (four normal doors) bodies. In addition there are two box sizes – either a 5 or 6-foot. Only 4x4 models, regardless of trim are offered in Canada. In addition, Ford is making its popular FX4 Off-Road package available on the new Ranger. It adds protective skid plates, upgraded tires, off-road-tuned shocks and suspension. Ford’s standard Terrain Management System and Trail Control will help navigate challenging conditions.   

While Ranger was absent from the North American Ford truck lineup these past eight years there was always an “international Ranger” being sold around the world. However the model tested in San Diego was developed exclusively for the North American truck market, says Ford.  It’s being built alongside the F-150 at the Michigan truck plant – and tested in the same way.

 The new Ranger is built with a high-strength steel frame, fully boxed with six cross-members, modern parabolic leaf-spring rear suspension, front and rear steel bumpers, short overhangs for off-road clearance and a hitch platform that is through-welded to the frame.

The Ranger has a 126.8-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 210.8-inches (compared to the full-size F-150’s 157-inch wheelbase and length of 243-inches).

The standard powertrain consists of a 2.3L EcoBoost engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.  The new engine is designed with direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger and a 16-valve design. For durability, the engine features a forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams.  It also comes standard with Auto Start-Stop.  This engine makes 270 hp and 310 lb.ft of torque.  The chassis and powertrain combination offers best-in-class (gas) towing of 7,500 lb. Payload is a very respectable 1,860 lb.

The new Ranger certainly differs from its extinct ancestor  in the realm of electronics.  It incorporates smart driver-assist features not even thought of a decade ago.  These include standard Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, a Reverse Sensing System and class-exclusive Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage. Most are standard on XLT and Lariat trim levels. Additional tech on the Lariat includes Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Infotainment on the 8-inch touchscreen is cutting edge, with SYNC 3 that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford also offers a 4G LTE modem for Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices.  AC power outlets allow for charging and USB outlets let passengers connect.  B&O PLAY premium audio (specially tuned for the Ranger cab) is also available.

Ford has always been good at offering a wide variety of optional features and purpose-built packages for its trucks.  The new Ranger is no exception.  In addition to the FX4 package, buyers can also order an STX Appearance Package, XL Chrome Package, Technology Package or Sport Appearance Package.  By combining a choice of these packages and various body configurations it’s possible to order over 30 distinct versions of the new Ranger.

These trucks are arriving at dealerships across Canada now.

Ford covers all the angles with Ranger.

The 2019 Ranger is right at home in tough conditions.

Ranger’s interior blends comfort and functionality.

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