After nearly three decades of production, the Ford Ranger got the guillotine treatment in North America. The main reason was simple: it nibbled on Ford F-150 sales. Ford wants to keep the F-150’s best selling label exactly where it is now – at the top. That and the fact that the Ford Ranger’s safety, EPA and sales numbers were only so-so.
Other markets overseas get nifty, updated, modern Ford Ranger variants to choose from. We never had the opportunity to sample those machines. Despite the “One Ford” business plan having the world share vehicles, platforms and power-trains, no small Ford pickup truck has replaced the Ford Ranger in the United States.
What if Ford had a plan in the works for a revived, updated, modern Ford Ranger that could bring a new generation of truck buyers into the fold? General Motors has seen the value of having a vehicle that undercuts their big seller the Silverado. I refer to the new Chevrolet Colorado and I wager Ford’s brain-trust is eyeballing the Colorado’s numbers very carefully. If it sells well, if the business case for the Colorado is proven – Ford may respond.
Recently, Ford introduced the 2015 Ford Mustang and announced its world-wide use of an EcoBoost 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine. Performance numbers have not been announced, but many automotive journalists predict over 300 horsepower and 300 lbs-feet of torque. All this while returning good mpg. A six-speed manual and six-speed automatic are available with the 2.3-liter engine.
Did you catch the torque numbers? Could you imagine that on a small truck? One of the current best-selling small pickup trucks in North America, the Toyota Tacoma, has a 4.0-liter DOHC 24-Valve V6 that makes 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.
Lighter engine, better mileage, more torque and greener operation? Yes! The Fast Lane Truck worked the crap out of a EcoBoost V6 and it did remarkably well beating just about everything it went up against. Ford knows turbo truck power and, by developing the 2.3 EcoBoost to work on a rear-drive platform like the next Mustang, some of the research has already happened.
Look, I know it’s more complicated than that. Millions of dollars worth of R&D have to go into a project like this. A new platform would have to be developed, (those overseas’ Ford Rangers look pretty good to me) EPA/CAFE numbers would have to be sussed out and the vehicle would have to slot in well under the base Ford F-150.
The current base model Ford F-150 starts at $24,445 while the current base model Nissan Frontier starts at $17,990. Maybe Ford could split the difference and bring the Ford Ranger back for a sub 19K base price-tag? If you could load up one for less than 26K, that could create some conquest sales and bring new blood to the F-150 when they need a larger truck.
I know, lot’s of “what-if” thinking.
All of my speculation aside, I do have one tantalizing tidbit to add to my speculation. Several months ago, at the Ford Proving grounds in Dearborn, MI – I saw an overseas’ Ford Ranger parked next to a R&D building while I was attending a press event. I wasn’t the only journalist who saw it either.
What do you guys think? Should they bring back the Ford Ranger? Will Chrysler respond by bringing back the Dodge Dakota as a Ram? We already know the Honda Ridgeline is being completely remade while Nissan and Toyota hint at all new trucks. I think Ford bringing back the Ford Ranger is a damn good idea – I hope they do too.
Speaking of a damn good idea, check out the video debut of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado!