2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's return to mid-size pickup market

As the domestic automakers chased bigger profits on their full-size trucks ’round about a decade ago, they let their mid-size pickups die on the vine. One of the casualties was the Ford Ranger, and it slipped into that good night after the 2011 model year.

An international version of the Ranger was actually born in 2009, before the previous model breathed its last breathe. Truck fans have wanted that truck to come to the U.S. for a long time and now they will get their wish, though Ford is doing them one better. Ford says the 2019 Ranger it introduced today on the eve of the Detroit auto show is all-new for North America. While the meaning of that is muddy, it appears the international truck has been updated for these shores.

Powering the truck is a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. This 16-valve, dual-overhead cam engine features direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger. Ford hasn’t released  horsepower, torque, or towing figures yet, but says it can tow campers, ATVs, or watercraft, and its power will be in line with competing V-6s. It will be paired with the company’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, and Ford claims that will help it deliver 4-cylinder fuel economy.

The truck sits on a high-strength steel frame with a double wishbone front suspension and parabolic rear leaf springs. It has frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers; the rear bumper has an integrated trailer hitch receiver. Two body styles are set to be offered: the SuperCab and the larger SuperCrew. No word on what the bed length is yet.

Ford will offer the 2019 Ranger in XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels with Chrome and Sport appearance packages, plus the FX Off-Road package. 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. The Terrain Management System will control the throttle, transmission, and other vehicle systems to help the Ranger get through various types of terrain, and it will have settings for normal; grass, gravel, snow; mud and ruts; and sand. Trail Control is like low-speed cruise control for acceleration and braking. It sends power and braking to each individual wheel to help the FX Off-Road Ranger crawl over surface when things get technical.

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). Four-wheel-drive models will come with low-range gearing.

Inside, the Ranger will seat up to five. For infotainment, Ford will offer an 8.0-inch touchscreen with its Sync 3 system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, and the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. In the instrument cluster, it will be available with a pair of LCD productivity screens that can show real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information. The FordPass Connect 4G LTE link will be on offer as well, and it will provide wi-fi access for up to 10 devices. Audiophiles will be able to order a Bang & Olufsen Play audio system.

Exterior options will include puddle lamps, cargo bed lighting, LED headlights and taillights, and Ford’s Smart Trailer Tow connector that alerts the driver to faulty trailer connections.

As for safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking will be standard . XLT and Lariat models will get active lane control, lane departure warning, rear park assist, and blind-spot monitors that also cover the trailer the Ranger might be towing. The Lariat model will also come with adaptive cruise control and a pre-collision assist system with pedestrian detection.

Production of the 2019 Ford Ranger begins late this year at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. Stay tuned for more specifications.

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