The new-generation 2022 Ford Ranger ute has been revealed with a bolder design, more interior technology, full-time four-wheel drive, a V6 diesel option, and a plug-in hybrid-ready architecture.
We don’t know final specs and market details at this stage, save that the new and again Thai-sourced Ford Ranger will hit Australian dealerships from the middle of 2022.
- Three engines will be offered at launch: single- and bi-turbo four-cylinder options, and a 3.0-litre V6. They’re all diesels
- Five trim levels will be available at launch, ranging from XL to Wildtrak. A Ranger Raptor will follow
- Top-spec cars will have a 12-inch vertical touchscreen inside, cheaper cars get a 10-inch unit
- Sales will start in the middle of 2022 for Australia
That means final power outputs, GCM and tow ratings are yet to be confirmed, though Ford did hint its axle loads and GVM would get an increase.
“A lot of work went into load carrying capability,” Ford said when asked.
Research and development began more than five years ago, and Ford calls itself “customer-obsessed” rather than customer-focused. It did more market research, surveys, focus groups, and customer tear-downs than for any previous Ranger, it says.
One thing that’ll be familiar are the badges: Ford has confirmed the launch range will comprise the Ranger XL, XLS, XLT, and Wildtrak grades, while the Ranger Sport (billed as the “rugged” option) will become a full-time offering from launch.
And yes, a new Ranger Raptor will form part of the range – just not from day one. Just quietly, we expect a turbocharged petrol engine will feature in this one.
As with the outgoing Ranger, the new model’s global research and development program was run by Ford’s Product Development Centre right here in Australia, overseeing around 2000 engineers and designers.
That means the 180-plus markets around the world that receive the Ranger will continue to have a little piece of Aussie ingenuity in them, for at least the next decade or so. Ford calls the Ranger its “one true global truck”.
This new model has huge shoes to fill, with the outgoing Ranger oscillating between number-one and two on the overall sales charts in Australia. The Ford and its Toyota HiLux rival sit head and shoulders above the competition in the sales race.
As has been reported, this Ranger will also spawn a closely-related new Volkswagen Amarok, a relationship similar to that of the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50. Volkswagen is staying quiet for now, but says it has had people embedded in the project from Germany since 2019.
One reason the outgoing Ranger was so dominant on the sales charts were its American tough looks, yet the company says the new model has an even more “truck-oriented theme” and a better stance.
The new Ranger shares Ford’s global truck design “DNA”, making it something of a mini F-Series. The mesh-inlayed grille, C-shaped daytime running light signature, H-shaped fascia, pronounced wheelarches and subtle shoulder line make the right first impression.
Off-road recovery is made easier with prominent dual recovery hooks in the front bumper.
“Customers told us the Ranger needs to look tough and needs to inspire confidence. They were very clear in what Ranger should be, both in the way it looks, and the way it makes them feel,” said chief designer Max Tran.
Under the body
The outgoing Ranger remains one of the best-riding commercial vehicles over choppy, pockmarked, corrugated Aussie coarse-chip or gravel, thanks to local engineering work. So again the new one has huge wheel tracks to follow.
The vehicle sits on an updated version of the existing T6 platform. The core setup is expected to remain, meaning most Rangers bar the new Raptor will retain leaf rear springs.
“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,” said Ranger program director Graham Pearson.
“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.”
Beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded ‘T6’ chassis riding on a wheelbase that’s 50mm longer and a track that’s 50mm wider than the prior Ranger. The former was achieved after engineers moved the front wheels slightly forward allowing a better approach angle.
They also moved the rear suspension’s dampers outboard of the frame rails in a bid “to give drivers and passengers a better ride both on- and off-road, no matter if they’re carrying heavy cargo for work, or just taking the family out for dinner”.
Engine choices will be familiar aside from the hero V6, which is an updated version of the axed F-Series Power Stroke donk. Ford will not use the current Volkswagen Amarok’s 3.0-litre V6.
Cheap workhorses will use a single-turbo 2.0-litre diesel four with six-speed manual (new MT88 transmission) or six-speed auto (6R80).
The familiar 2.0-litre bi-turbo and 10-speed automatic will also be re-used, with the engine having now undergone 5.5 million test kilometres and 600 hours at full throttle. The 10AT has been made lighter, has closer-stacked ratios, and a new torque converter.
A 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol will be offered in some markets, but not Australia. The old 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel has been culled.
A “proven” 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 joins the range, with the new front-end allowing a bigger bonnet space. It also opens up the front of the ute to get more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures lower when towing or carrying loads.
“Ranger will be in its own category in terms of power and torque,” is all Ford is saying regarding outputs. Anything short of 600Nm would seem disappointing in this case.
Beyond this, a plug-in hybrid is an almost-guaranteed addition during the life cycle, while we understand global markets will have a few petrol options. Australia will be diesel-dominated, but the new Raptor is expected to use an EcoBoost petrol engine this time around…
Ford adds that buyers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems: a part-time electronic shift-on-the-fly system like the current model, or a new full-time 4×4 system with a set-and-forget mode.
We expect this latter one is for the V6 models, while Ford would not disclose if it was also destined for the bi-turbo four, which currently has a basic part-time system.
More body-on-frame utes are coming with AWD systems that can be used on-road without mechanical damage, and Ford has clearly paid attention. Neither the HiLux or D-Max can match the new Ranger on this count, but the old Amarok can/could.
Raptor-style driving modes that change driveline and ESP parameters will be rolled out across more variants, and all 4×4 menus and settings are operated through their own touchscreen menus, reached by pressing a button (reassuringly).
“When you drive a Ranger with the V6 turbodiesel, it feels like a much bigger truck. And it feels really tough in the sense that it’s got endless power and torque, which is exactly what our customers wanted,” claims Ranger program manager Pritika Maharaj.
Interior and tub
The more spacious interior is said to offer more premium touchpoints, reflecting the different types of buyers, and less bling-y chrome. It’s a hell of a step up on the old model.
Behind the new-look wheel sits a full digital instrument cluster, matched with a portrait-oriented 12-inch centre touchscreen (base grades are expected to get a smaller 10.1-inch screen) running the Sync 4 operating system with informal voice command function.
There’s also a Ranger-first 360-degree camera, with off-road modes for blind spots.
The customers “did not want [the screen] to look like it was tacked on”, says Ford, so it says it embedded it more nicely and flanked it with signature vertical vents with spokes that match the front grille.
There are more open and lidded storage bins, retractable dash-mounted cupholders, new interior door handles mounted into the rigid fixed handles, chunky ventilation dials, a rotary dial for 4WD modes, plus a small stubby shifter and electric park brake.
The stamped tailgate has crisper lines and a new handle, while the tub is bigger and can now fit a palette between the arches like the outgoing Amarok.
There’s also a new ‘box step’ behind the back tyre to help you grab stuff from inside the tub, a moulded bed-liner, box ‘edge capping’, plus optional external tubular tie-down rails strong enough for loaded ratchet strap and a 240V socket in the bed. Oh, and the tailgate has a ruler.
“We know our customers are looking for a smart and functional interior space that feels comfortable. 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,” designer Mr Tran added.
Ownership and accessories
Ford will offer something called a Ranger Expert Concierge accessed via email, live chat, or 1-1 video, as well as an updated FordPass app that lets you check diagnostics and book services remotely. Remote start and A/C controls are also expected to feature in the app.
Ford also says it’ll offer free loan vehicles, customer vehicle pickups, or 60 minute rapid service options.
Beyond its own kit, Ford has also teamed up with Australia’s ARB (a global 4×4 accessories player) to develop extra accessories and add-ons, to be offered through dealers. Ford claims more than 600 factory-backed (meaning warrantied) features will be available.
“With Ranger, we’ve had a big extended family for decades,” says Ford’s global Ford president and CEO Jim Farley. “This truck has always been a trusted partner to small business owners, farmers, families, adventurers, commercial fleets and so many more…
“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.”
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