Sunday, May 10, 2009

What is the future of the Ranger?

Today there was a comment on one of my archived posts that brought back one of my favorite gripes. The Ranger, how Ford has let it lapse and what I hope they will do. Ok, let's get some history here, the Ranger name started as a trim level on the full size Ford F-Series trucks, just like the Eplorer badge. Starting in the late 60's and early 70's Japanese makes started to bring compact pickups to the US, Nissan and Toyota leading the way, but Isuszu and Mazda also. So, when the Domestic makes saw an emerging market segment, they initially imported partner trucks rebadged as their own, in the case of Ford that was the Courier. But eventually they recognized that a true Domestic compact pickup would make more sense and the Ranger was born . And from 1987 to 2004 it was segment leader. In many ways it was far superior to the Courier it replaced and Ford improved it with each generation. But the evolution stopped in 2000 or so and it was just mild refresh after that, until this day. I believe it was a combination of relatively cheap fuel here in the states and our tendancy to super size everything. While competitors grew in size, the Ranger remained compact. It remains a profitable unit for the company, especially since they've done no real development over the last decade. What a shame really. But with new safety and emissions standards coming into effect soon, the current Ranger is coming to a point where Ford can't sell it, even if customers were lined up out the door, which really they aren't. One major fault is that the current Ranger can't be fitted with airbags in the A pillar. Another minor fault is that it's not available in a true 4 door cab here, while it has been all over the world, including Mexico.
But as with Ford's need for small fuel efficient car, they have the answer in their global garage.
Ford developed a new Ranger (Mazda BT-50 also ) for markets outside of the United States.
And I've posted about it before, because it's a class leader and would be a huge hit here.
I'm not sure if it has air bags in the A pillar, but I'd guess it does since it's sold in Europe.
It's also got 2 great Diesel powertrain options and one of the nicest interiors I've ever seen in a compact truck. So, should Ford rush to get this cleared to come here? Would they import it from Asia or build it here? Yes they should rush to bring it market! If the Diesels aren't going to meet emisions, they can stick the 2.5 petrol I-4 and 3.5 V-6 in there. Over the last few years I've read criticism of the Ranger on the web and speculation that Ford should introduce a new Mid Size pickup using the F-100 nameplate. I disagree, but if they did it right, I'd be willing to take a look.

Now, this is a photoshop done quite a while ago by "FUD" (?) that I had seen on several message boards suggesting that the new Ranger be based on an Explorer chassis. But at this point is that prudent? Haven't we had that already? Isn't that the crap known as the Sport Trac?
What say you? I say, bring us the Global Ranger, with the Diesel option for those pulling boat trailers.

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