Ford revs up Rangers for the new year


Ford details new ‘Next-Generation Ranger’ range of five models

Ford revs up Rangers for the new year
Ford has looked for work-play versatility in its New-Generation Ranger

 

Ford’s Next-Generation Ranger is the "smartest, most versatile and most capable Ranger ever" according to the company, with the latest model updates aiming for an adaptable mid-sized ute that reflects how people want to use their vehicles.

The Next-Generation Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Melbourne, with a 2,000-strong team of dedicated designers and engineers.

"Our team was focused on one goal – to make this Ranger the toughest and most capable we’ve ever created," Ranger vehicle program director Graham Pearson said.

"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’."

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According to Ford, customer input was key to developing the Next-Generation range. To that end, it conducted more than 5,000 interviews and dozens of customer workshops.

The resulting design is influenced by Ford’s pick-up trucks and features a new grille and signature C-clamp headlights at the front as well as bolder wheel arches. For the first time, Ford Ranger offers LED headlights in the five new models: the XL, XLS, XLT, Sport and Wildtrak.

"Customers told us the Ranger needs to look tough and needs to inspire confidence," Ranger chief designer Max Tran said.

"They were very clear in what Ranger should be, both in the way it looks, and the way it makes them feel."

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Beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase 50mm longer and a track 50mm wider than the prior Ranger.

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, Ford said.

It also opens up the front of the pick-up to allow more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures low when towing or carrying heavy loads.

The three-litre turbodiesel V6 engine is one of three options and was chosen to provide more power and torque for towing heavy loads and extreme off-roading.

Other options are the single-turbo and the bi-turbo two-litre inline four-cylinder diesels. Transmission choices include an updated 10-speed auto complementing the current six-speed automatic. Ford says these options meet the varied needs of its customer base.

"We have a really wide spectrum of customers," Ranger vehicle program director Graham Pearson said.

"On one end, you might have small business owners looking for very work-oriented transportation. They want traditional two-wheel drive with a single cab and a load box to transport their goods.

"At the extreme other end, you have the serious off-roaders who really push their Rangers to the limit with endurance races like King of the Hammers or the Dakar Rally.

"The Next-Generation Ranger will meet the needs of both types of customers and everyone in between."

Ford said it had moved the front wheels forward by 50mm for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation, both of which improve the off-roading experience.

It had also shifted the rear suspension dampers outboard of the frame rails to give drivers and passengers a better ride both on- and off-road, even if they are carrying heavy cargo.

"On the Next-Generation 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.

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Customers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems, an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or advanced full-time 4x4 system with a set-and-forget mode. Off-road recovery is made easier with dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.

LOOKING INSIDE

The car-like cabin is furnished with premium soft-touch materials.

"We know our customers are looking for a smart and functional interior space that feels comfortable," Tran said.

"So, we set about designing it with a high level of well-integrated technology, clever functional storage and visual cues so the environment feels comfortable and spacious.
The 10.1-inch (25.7cm) or 12-inch (30.5cm) portrait touchscreen in the centre stack comes with Ford’s latest SYNC4 system, which comes customer-ready with its voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems.

Additionally, there’s an embedded factory-fitted modem, allowing connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPass app. FordPass includes features like remote start, vehicle status check and remote lock and unlock functions via your mobile device.

Many of the traditional driving mode controls have been moved from the dash and centre console to their own dedicated display on the SYNC screen. Drivers can now use 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.

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The screen also is linked to a 360-degree camera to help with parking or when off-roading in difficult terrain. In addition, customers can control Ranger’s new exterior zone lighting system via the touchscreen or the FordPass app. Ranger technology will also be future-proofed to accept software updates thanks to an embedded modem.

"You’ll find the interior plush but with the dual purpose of work and play in mind," Tran said.

"The new short-throw e-shifter is central to the layout and is another example of where customers really guided our decision making. Customers overwhelmingly liked the e-shifter – they liked the fact that it looked higher-tech and that it was intuitive to use."

Storage options include ways to store your phone or charge it wirelessly (where compatible as well as a large centre console bin.

The door pockets have also been designed to carry more, the wide dash conceals an upper glovebox and there are storage bins under and behind the rear seats.

OUT BACK

"When we met with our customers and observed how they climbed up to the load box [tray], we saw a big improvement opportunity," Ranger vehicle engineering manager Anthony Hall said.

"There were people stepping on the tyre and then going over the side of the truck or hoisting themselves onto the open tailgate."

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This inspired the inclusion of an integrated side-step behind the rear tyres of the Next-Generation Ranger, to create a stronger, more stable way for accessing the cargo tray.
Ford said the design of the tray was also revamped to allow for more space as well as ways to better secure cargo.

"Widening the truck by 50mm may not seem like a lot, but it makes a huge difference, especially in the cargo box," Hall added.

"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."

The tray now includes a new, tough plastic-moulded bedliner that helps protect both the truck bed from scratches and owner’s knees from kneeling on a steel truck bed.

Extra cargo tie-down points – on strong steel tube rails – provide convenient points to secure loads. Caps around the sides of the tray and across the tailgate conceal structural attachment points for canopies and other aftermarket accessories.

In addition, Ranger offers a new cargo management system designed with dividers to hold various sized items – such as timber or toolboxes.

Owners also can create smaller compartments to store objects, which would otherwise have to go in the cab, using a system of spring-loaded cleats that clip into rails bolted to each side of the tray.

The tailgate is designed to also double as a mobile work bench with clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.

Along with the touchscreen or mobile-controlled 360-degree zone lighting, there is extra lighting in the cargo area under the right-hand and left-hand rails.

OPTIONS

Personalising the Next-Generation Ranger can be attained through a range of almost 600 fully factory-backed work, urban and adventure accessories, depending on the market. These include those developed in collaboration with ARB 4x4 Accessories and will be fully backed by Ford’s new vehicle warranty of up to five years/unlimited kilometres.

The collaboration will initially be rolling out in select markets.

The new  Rangers will be built at Ford’s manufacturing plants in Thailand and South Africa starting next year. Local specifications and pricing will be announced closer to arrival.

CUSTOMER-FOCUSED

"Our customers told us what they want from the ownership experience – and that’s convenience on their terms," Ford’s International Markets Group president, Dianne Craig, observed.

This includes the FordPass app for smartphone control, which can be used for example to remote start the vehicle to ensure the temperature inside is comfortable before driving, as well as the owner being able to receive notifications that their vehicle is due for service.

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Depending on the market, details of which will be announced nearer the launch, a Ranger Concierge will be available to act as an owner’s point of contact for any issues that arise.

Online service appointments mean that Ford dealers will pick up and deliver a customer’s Ranger for them if required and provide a temporary replacement Ranger during servicing.

With a focus on being ‘always-on’ for customers, Ford is also planning to offer over-the-air updates, via system called Ford Power-Up, so owners won’t need to schedule a service for some things.

 

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