Ford Ranger marks Ford's return to mid-size pickup market

2019 Ford Ranger EMBARGOED DO NOT USE

"Last year, small trucks had their best year since 2009, and the familiarity of the Ranger nameplate will help Ford quickly attract interested shoppers". Ford has unveiled the 2019 Ford Ranger, which is finally coming back to the U.S. With the success of the Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and even the upcoming new Nissan Frontier, Ford has finally made a decision to re-enter the midsize truck segment with a new Ranger. With the Ranger being the best-selling pickup in Europe, South Africa, and New Zealand, there is an obvious opportunity for Ford.

Unlike all the competition, from the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, to the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the 2019 Ford Ranger will be offered in North America with just one engine; what the company is calling an "all-new" version of the gas direct-injection, twin-scroll turbo 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo four already offered in the Mustang.

The new Ranger will start arriving in North American dealerships in early 2019 and be assembled at its Wayne, Michigan, factory in suburban Detroit. Per Ford Engineers, the North American Ranger is only similar in its dimensions. The 2019 Ford Ranger will be offered in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels with available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages, and in SuperCab or SuperCrew body styles.

The cabin and dashboard will look nothing like the Ranger you drove in high school.

When it comes time to take the Ranger off-road, the FX4 Off-Road Package offers multiple enhancements to make this truck more capable where the pavement ends. There's also unique FX4 badging to help the Ranger stand out from the crowd. This package, to be offered for rear- and four-wheel-drive models, will add skid plates, knobby tires, off-road-tuned shocks and suspension, a Terrain Management System, and a new Trail Control system. That has four drive modes - normal; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand - that can be flipped between while the Ranger is in motion. Switching modes alters throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, and vehicle controls to provide the best performance no matter the conditions. Trail Control is like low-speed cruise control for acceleration and braking. This means the technology will send power or brakes to each wheel as needed so drivers can keep their eyes on steering while off-road driving.

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Both 2WD and 4WD models will have Dana locking differentials, with an electronic locking rear diff available (standard on FX2 and FX4 Off-Road variants).

Additional features include optional LED headlamps and tail lamps.

The tailgate is designed for both cargo and people, with an optional integrated trailer hitch. The available Smart Trailer Tow connector makes towing safer and easier by alerting the driver of any faulty trailer connections.

The latest version of Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is optional, and comes with built-in WiFi and Ford+Alexa personal assistant, which can take notes, play music and interact with Google Home-compatible appliances. The FordPass Connect 4G LTE link will be on offer as well, and it will provide wi-fi access for up to 10 devices. Automatic Emergency Braking is standard, while lane keeping assistance and departure warnings, a reverse sensing system, and blind-spot warnings with trailer coverage are standard once you get to XLT and Lariat trim. The top Lariat model adds pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control. Pricing will be announced closer to the truck's release early in 2019, with production kicking off at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant later this year. Unlike Rangers found in, say, Australia, ours gets a more muscular body courtesy of a raised belt line that compliments a raked grille and windshield to combine strength with the logical art of aerodynamics.

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