The new Ranger bakkie – or the new Ranger midsize truck, as it is known in the US – finally broke cover on Wednesday.
Production of the pickup is set to start at Ford South Africa’s Silverton plant in Pretoria next year for the local market, as well as for more than 100 export markets.
The new vehicle, somewhat resembling the US’ top-selling F-150 truck, abides by the trend of the expanded use of bakkies in recent years – it’s no longer just about work, but also about play.
The next-generation Ranger project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia.
The bakkie’s design features a new square grille, as well as C-clamp headlights at the front. For the first time, the Ranger also offers matrix LED headlights.
Beneath the new bodywork, the upgraded chassis rides on a wheelbase 50 mm longer and a track 50 mm wider than the previous Ranger.
A hydro-formed front-end structure creates more space in the engine bay for a new V6 engine and helps future-proof the Ranger for other propulsion technologies, such as plug-in-hybrid technology.
It also opens up the front of the pickup to allow more airflow to the radiator, which helps keep running temperatures low when towing or carrying heavy loads, says the US car maker.
In order to ease access to the load bin, Ford has created an integrated side-step behind the rear tires of the vehicle.
In addition, the Ranger team worked to ensure that a wider variety of cargo could fit and stay secure in the load box, by widening the truck by 50 mm.
This means that customers will be able to load flat items such as a sheet of building plywood or a full-size pallet into the bin.
Other touches include a new plastic-moulded bedliner that helps protect the truck bed from scratches.
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 cargo box.
The tailgate can also double as a mobile work bench with an integrated ruler and clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.
Zone lighting provides 360-degree lighting around the truck to help give customers better visibility around the vehicle.
Load-box lighting is provided under the left- and right-hand rails.
As noted earlier, the new Ranger adds a 3-l V6 turbodiesel engine as one of three turbodiesel engine options available at launch, depending on the market.
The next-gen Ranger will also come with a choice between a single-turbo and a bi-turbo 2-l inline four-cylinder diesel engine.
In addition, the bakkie will be available with a 2.3-l EcoBoost four-cylinder petrol engine.
New transmission choices include an updated ten-speed auto or six-speed manual, complementing the current six-speed automatic.
Customers will also have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems: an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, or a full-time 4 x 4 system with a set-and-forget mode, designed for off-road capability when and where customers need it.
Inside the Ranger, the heart of the connective experience is the 10.1-inch or 12-inch portrait touchscreen in the centre stack.
It complements a fully digital instrument panel and is loaded with Ford’s SYNC4 system, which comes customer-ready with 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, so customers can stay connected.
FordPass enhances the ownership experience with features like remote start, vehicle status check and remote lock and unlock functions via a 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, where drivers can go to a dedicated screen for all off-road and drive modes to monitor the driveline, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles and other controls.
The screen also is linked to a 360-degree camera to ensure easier manoeuvrability
in tight urban spaces, or to assist when negotiating particularly tricky terrain.
The Ranger cabin also feature many places to store a phone or charge it wirelessly (in markets where compatible).
In addition to revealing the next-generation Ranger this week, Ford has also outlined its “always-on” commitment to customers, with a host of services centred around convenience.
Depending on market, these include service pickup and delivery, a Ranger Concierge programme, and online service booking options.
“When we reimagined the Ranger, we set out to create more than just a great new pickup truck; we set out to design a great experience as well,” says Ford International Markets Group president Dianne Craig.
“We are a family company, and we want our customers to feel like part of our family. The vehicle sale is just the beginning of our journey together.”