Ford's hot new Ranger finally unveiled
26 November 2021 | Motors
As most expected, the new Ranger looks like a three-quarter scale Ford F-150. The overall design is a radical departure from the T6 Ranger, with the new wide frame grille and slim-line C-Clamp headlights. The tailgate stamping and rear lights are significantly enhanced, and the bakkie has a much wider appearance - which is not merely a design illusion.
The Ranger has grown by 50mm in width, and much of the additional size isn't merely cosmetic. Ford's designers have repacked the Ranger's load box to carry a full-width pallet between the rear wheel arches.
Big screens inside
The Ranger's cabin architecture benefits from enhanced infotainment tech and switchgear. Two new vertically orientated screen options, measuring 10.1- or 12-inches in size, are available. OTP updates will feature in the bakkie's ownership experience, and screen luminosity has been calibrated to be clearly legible, even in direct midday sunlight.
Listening to bakkie owners, Ford designers have retained physical dials and buttons for most HVAC controls. Anybody who has tried to adjust HVAC via a touchscreen on a corrugated gravel road will know the ergonomic frustration. Instead of a rotary dial gear selector, there is also a traditional shifter on the automatic transmission Rangers. Ford's design team had experimented with the latter, but focus groups rejected the idea. And as is the case with F-150, Ford Ranger drivers prefer the legacy shifter to rest a hand on when driving.
No more needing to watch your step
The Ranger's simplest design feature might be its least noticeable, but it is perhaps the most useful.
Designers have added a box step to the rear corners of the new bakkie, addressing an issue that many will be familiar with: loadbox access. Limber and agile kids easily clamber in and out of a double-cab's loadbox, but age and injury add risk to the enterprise for most adults.
Accessing the new Ranger's loadbox is made a lot easier and safer with the box step. No more risk of slipping on a mud-covered rear tyre. Or getting your leverage and lower limb position wrong, risking potential ankle, knee or lower back injury. The box step is sure to trigger some observation and introspection from rival double-cab bakkie designers. It is a simple and long-overdue feature in the double-cab bakkie market.
What about the V6?
Most of the familiar Ford bakkie engine family is retained for the new Ranger, with the 2.0-litre single- and bi-turbodiesels. Specific markets, mainly North America, will continue to be serviced by the 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol option.
Where Ford might have a unique product offering with the new Ranger is its 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. This will see a return of six-cylinder power for the Ranger - something the T6 lacked. Volkswagen has proved that Southern African bakkie buyers have an appetite for powerful V6 engines. The new Ranger will offer more overtaking, towing and sand driving performance with the Powerstroke V6 turbodiesel.
Ford hasn't confirmed final engine outputs for any of the new Ranger powertrains, but there is little doubt about the performance potential of that new V6 turbodiesel. In other Ford applications, such as the F-150, the Powerstroke 3.0-litre V6 boasts 186kW and 597Nm. Gearboxes? Again, it is much the same, with some evolutionary upgrades. The core automatic transmission will be Ford's 10-speed automatic.
Expect many accessory options - for custom builds
Ford has worked in a joint venture with renowned off-road accessories specialist, ARB, to develop a range of bolt-on bits for the new Ranger. The bakkie's bumper and front section have been specifically shaped for ease of fitment regarding accessories, with Ford wanting its new Ranger customers to customize the bakkie for greater appeal.
Want one? Ford should have them rolling off the line at Silverton towards the second half of 2022.