Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Next-gen Ford Ranger – more power and more space

Ford today revealed what they are calling the smartest, most versatile and most capable Ranger ever.

Labelled the “customer’s Ranger”, the automaker says it has used years of truck expertise, and collaboration with customers worldwide, to create a vehicle and an ownership experience that next-gen Ranger owners can rely on.

“With Ranger, we’ve had a big extended family for decades,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford SA. “This truck has always been a trusted partner to small business owners, farmers, families, adventurers and commercial fleets in more than 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.”

Ford has committed to offering customers a host of services centered around convenience on their terms. Depending on market, these could include service pickup and delivery, a Ranger Concierge program, and streamlined online service booking options.

The next-gen Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia, who assembled the best and brightest Ford minds to incorporate the latest in Ford tech, 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.”

New Look, New Capabilities

Customer input was key to developing the next-gen Ranger’s rugged new look and a lot of man hours were spent with owners around the globe, conducting more than 5 000 interviews and dozens of customer workshops to understand how customers used their pickups and what their customers wanted and expected in the new Ranger.

The result is a bold and confident pick-up, with a purposeful exterior that shares Ford’s global truck design DNA. The design features a defined new grille, and new Matrix LED headlights with a C-clamp signature, which is echoed in the taillight design. A subtle shoulder line and bolder wheel arches give the Ranger a prominent stance. The car-like cabin uses premium soft-touch materials, and the portrait-style centre touchscreen uses Ford’s latest SYNC®i 4 connectivity and entertainment system.

The reveal models – stylish XLT, rugged Sport and adventurer Wildtrak – reflect customer input 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.”

The new Ranger rides on an upgraded chassis with a 50mm longer wheelbase and 50mm wider track. 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 allows more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures low when towing or carrying heavy loads.

New powertrain choices

In answer to the customer call for more power and torque, the team adapted the proven 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel currently used in the F150 for the Ranger platform. Capable of developing 186kW @ 3250rpm and just under 600Nm @1 750rpm, its exact outputs, and the final powertrain line-up for the African market, will only be revealed at the mid-2022 launch.

Other engine options will include the proven single- and bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-pot diesels, with the single turbo aimed at business customers and the bi-turbo at the performance lifestyle market.

In addition, the next-gen Ranger will be available with the tried and tested 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine that underpins a range of Ford global products, delivering 201kW @ 5 500rpm and 420Nm @ 3 200rpm.

New transmission choices include an updated 10-speed auto or six-speed manual.

Improved ride and handling

To develop the ride and handling expected during a truck customer’s wide-ranging uses, from lugging heavy loads to serious off-roading, the engineers moved the front wheels forward by 50mm to improve the approach angle, which works in combination with the wider track to improve articulation. Rear suspension dampers were moved outside of the frame rails to improve the ride quality in all conditions.

“On the next-gen 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. Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.

High-tech interior

Ford aimed to deliver a bakkie interior that functions as both a workspace and smart connected haven, with plenty of useable storage space.

The heart of the Ranger’s connective experience is the 10.1-inch or 12-inch centre touchscreen which complements the digital instrument panel. It is loaded with Ford’s latest SYNC4® system, which features voice-activated communications, entertainment, and information systems. An embedded factory-fitted modem allows connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPass™ App, offering features like remote start, vehicle status check and remote lock and unlock via a linked mobile device.

Many 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 is also linked to a 360-degree camera to make parking a breeze in tight urban spaces or to assist when negotiating tricky terrain. 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 via the embedded modem.

The design team also created clever storage, with places to store a phone or charge it wirelessly (where compatible), a large centre console bin, generous door pockets, an upper glovebox concealed in the wide dash and 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 tire and then going over the side of the truck or hoisting themselves onto the open tailgate.”

That inspired an integrated side-step behind the rear tires for the next-generation Ranger, to create a strong, more stable way for them to access the box. In addition, the Ranger team worked to ensure that a wider variety of cargo could 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.

Thoughtful touches include a tough plastic bedliner and extra cargo tie-down points on strong steel tube rails. 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 with dividers, so owners can create larger and smaller compartments using a system of 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 an integrated ruler and clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.

The custom touch

Customers will be able to personalise their next-gen Ranger with a range of almost 600 fully factory-backed work, urban and adventure accessories, depending on the market. These accessories include those developed in collaboration with global off-road icon, ARB 4×4 Accessories (to be rolled out in select markets initially).

The next-generation Ranger will be built at Ford’s plants in Thailand and South Africa beginning in 2022, with other markets to be announced at a later date. Specific market launch details will be announced in due course.

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