Next-generation Ford Ranger ditches the camo and struts its stuff

When Ford returned the Ranger to the US several years ago, the truck was new to our market, but it wasn't entirely new, having been available in other countries before. The Ranger proved popular and helped broaden the competition in the mid-size truck market dominated by Toyota. Ford has now revealed the next-generation Ranger, and the mid-size pickup is packed with features and promises improved capability compared to the current model. Ford says it collaborated with truck customers around the world to develop a more versatile and desirable truck.

As popular as pickups are in the US, it might surprise some that Ford debuted the new Ranger in Europe. Mid-size trucks are the only options for Europeans as roads in many areas are simply too small for the full-sized pickups preferred in America. The Ranger is also the pickup segment leader in Europe, holding 39.9 percent of the market as of September. Orders for the next-generation Ranger will begin in Europe in late 2022, with deliveries starting in early 2023.

The truck was developed by the Ford Product Development Center in Australia using an international team of designers and engineers. Taking a glance at the photographs, it's clear to see that the most noticeable change for the next-generation pickup is an all-new design on the outside. The design looks very familiar to those who have been following the Ford Maverick with a very similar design all around. The Maverick is a very attractive small pickup, and it's no surprise to see the Ranger use some of the same design elements.

The new Ranger will offer matrix LED headlights for the first time and features new taillights. While offering pickup styling and capability, Ford worked to make the truck's interior more car-like with premium soft-touch materials and a large portrait-style touchscreen in the center of the dash. We hope it's designed and laid out as well as the Maverick's interior. The Ranger's infotainment system utilizes Sync 4 for connectivity and voice control.

In addition to all-new bodywork, the upgraded Ranger also has a revised chassis featuring a wheelbase 50 millimeters longer and a track 50 millimeters wider than the current Ranger. The truck uses a V-6 engine and features a hydro-formed front-end structure providing more room for the V-6. Ford points out its design also helps to "future-proof" the Ranger for "other propulsion technologies." That would seem to indicate Ford is eyeing an electrified Ranger in the future, which is no surprise at all.

To give customers a choice when it comes to power for the truck, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 was developed and will be one of three turbo diesel engine options available in Europe at launch. When the truck eventually comes to the US, it's unlikely the turbodiesel options will be available, but we can hope. In addition to the 3.0-liter diesel engine, the next-generation Ranger will also offer a single-turbo and a bi-turbo 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder diesel engines. The bi-turbo engine is a performance version for those wanting more power and is the likely powerplant for the Ranger Raptor, assuming it carries over.

Engineers also focused on improving the ride and handling of the truck designing it to work for various situations from commercial use to duty as a family vehicle. There were be multiple versions of the truck offered, with Ford pointing out that customers for the Ranger run the gamut from small businesses wanting basic two-wheel-drive single cab truck to serious off-road enthusiasts after performance and power.

By moving the front wheels forward by 50 millimeters, the new Ranger has improved approach angles and improved articulation off-road. Two different four-wheel-drive systems will be available, including one that uses electronic shift-on-the-fly technology and another that offers full-time four-wheel drive.

One of the biggest changes inside the truck is the addition of a large portrait-mode touchscreen. Two different sizes are available depending on the trim level, including a 10.1-inch and a 12-inch screen. The big screens go along with the fully digital instrument cluster. In addition, Ranger will also have an embedded FordPass modem providing connectivity to devices in the car and features such as remote starting, remote vehicle status reports, and the ability to lock and unlock the doors from a smartphone.

The large screen also gives drivers access to the 360-degree camera view in some models making parking easier and allowing drivers to see what's going on around the vehicle when off-roading. One of the biggest benefits of widening the truck by 50 millimeters is the ability to load larger items into the cargo box, including a full-sized pallet or a sheet of plywood.

Ranger features a new plastic molded bedliner and additional cargo tiedown points for securing loads. The truck's bed also has flexible load box caps around the sides and across the tailgate that hide structural attachment points for accessories such as camper shells and more. The tailgate was designed to be usable as a mobile workbench featuring integrated ruler and clamp points.

Other interesting touches for the new Ranger include zone lighting, which can be controlled using the Sync screen or the FordPass app. Zone lighting is a 360-degree lighting system around the truck designed to improve visibility. Lighting is also provided inside the cargo box underneath the left and right handrails to provide light for loading or unloading cargo.

Along with the development of the truck, Ford is also developing its own accessories and working with third parties like ARB. A full range of 150 factory-backed accessories for work and play will be available for the new Ranger. Ford confirmed the new truck we built at its plants in Thailand and South Africa starting in 2022. The automaker promises to announce other markets at a later date. The assumption is the next-generation Ranger will come to the US, but that has not been confirmed at this time.

Ford began teasing the truck in September with a video showing the new Ranger clad in camouflage. Details such as availability and pricing should be offered closer to launch. However, anyone in the market for a smaller pickup who doesn't want to wait for the next-generation Ranger should seriously consider the Ford Maverick. We recently talked about 10 of the best features on the Maverick, including its standard hybrid powertrain and impressive fuel economy.