2018 Detroit - Ford Ranger returns to America

America is the land of the trucks and Ford leads the full-size pick-up truck segment there by a country mile. Its quite an irony then Ford's big-selling truck in the rest of the world, the Ranger, has been kept out of the reach of Americans for so long. As a result, the top bosses at Ford Motor Company were forced to sit out and watch the action unfold between Chevrolet and Toyota that were riding high on renewed demand for mid-size pick-ups in the United States. Having decided it wants a slice of this pie, Ford announced the return of the Ranger to the States last year. 

The 2018 Detroit Auto Show marks the next step in the process with the first public unveiling of the truck. A big-seller in markets as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and South Africa, the Ranger is sure to give the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma sleepless nights.

We have seen the Ranger in the current shape and form for quite a few years now and Ford isn't tinkering with the formula that clicked globally. As a result, the Ranger for North America gets just a few subtle changes externally to keep it fresh in the eyes of potential customers. The revised grille and the redesigned steel bumper are the major changes up front. At the rear, changes are so minimal that they are largely unnoticeable at first glance. Look closely and you'll observe the modified taillight lenses and bumper. Being the handsome and muscular brute that it is, the Ranger needed no change in the way it looked and we are glad Ford left it that way. 

Bigger changes for America are under the hood with Ford shoehorning a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine under the hood in place of the 2.2-liter and 3.2-liter diesels that currently power the Ranger globally. The 4-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection gasoline mill is the same that we have seen in cars like the Focus RS and the Mustang. While the power and torque figures haven't been released yet, Ford has hinted at class-leading specifications when the Ranger goes on sale later this year.

Unlike the F150 that switched to aluminium in what was an industry-first, the Ranger only has its hood and tailgate made from the lighter alloy with the rest of the body and the frame made from high-strength steel. Higher variants get Dana axles front and rear with an electronic locking differential and a two-speed transfer case. The Terrain Management System on-board lets the driver choose one of the four modes - Normal, Grass, gravel & snow, Mud & ruts and Sand - depending on the terrain being conquered.

The interiors are straight out of the global Ranger in terms of appearance although we expect Ford to add improved materials and superior fit and finish before sending these out to American showrooms. Equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment system, the Ranger gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration. A suite of active and passive safety features are expected to be standard including blind-spot monitoring with trailer coverage, pre-collision assist, lane-keep and lane-departure assist and automatic cruise control. 

Ford's expertise in making and selling pick-up trucks is well-known and second to none. Combine that with a product as capable as the Ranger and the competition should be worried.

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