Ford’s European tease for the all-American pick-up life has been rejuvenated for 2022. Meet the next-generation Ranger which far from packing a V8 and dual-reservoir shocks, is boasting increased smart connectivity.
Firstly, the outside. As ever, the Ranger very much looks up to its colonial siblings, with much of its styling appearing as a rounded-off version of the blocky F-150. Ford conducted 5,000 interviews and customer workshops to gauge what was expected from the new Ranger in terms of looks. Unsurprisingly, toughness was at the head of the menu.
“Customers told us the Ranger needs to look tough and needs to inspire confidence,” said Max Tran, chief designer for Ranger. “They were very clear in what Ranger should be, both in the way it looks, and the way it makes them feel.”
It also probably goes without saying the Ranger can again be had in a range of formats, from rear- to all-wheel-drive, single- and double-cab, bed box or open bed – it’s as versatile a model as ever.
Underneath, the Ranger has evolved somewhat too. The chassis has been upgraded with an extra 50mm in the wheelbase and the width compared with the outgoing model, yielding enormous benefits in terms of load and cabin space. The front end is hydroformed, giving the engine bay more space.
Is there hope for a V8? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Ford is proud of getting its new V6 engine in there, while also making the new Ranger more suitable for “other propulsion technologies”. The Ford Ranger Lightning 2023 will come soon. Rather against the grain is that new V6, which is a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel, though in the commercial world oil-burners are still the preferred option. No word on performance figures yet but we’d be surprised if it wasn’t a muscular mule. It joins a selection of four-cylinder 2.0-litre engines with single and twin-turbos, the latter being the more performance-oriented option.
Suspending the new chassis is a new set-up with the rear dampers now outboard of the frame rails, delivering a better ride in all conditions, with all kinds of loads. The front wheels have been moved forward by 50mm with outboard suspension too, helping the ride and handling as well as approach angles and articulation. With new tuning and new set-ups, the new Ranger should have a broader envelope of capability at both ends of the spectrum.
Ford’s canvassing of its customer base didn’t stop at the styling. This truck is very much a piece of equipment so knowing is half the battle. “We know our customers are looking for a smart and functional interior space that feels comfortable,” Tran follows.
“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. You’ll find the interior plush but with the dual purpose of work and play in mind.”
Sat as standard in the centre stack is a new 10.1-inch touchscreen, upgradable to 12 inches as an option, alongside a fully digital instrument cluster. Both are complete with Ford’s SYNC infotainment and are FordPass capable, allowing you to lock, unlock and even start your Ranger via the app on your phone. The drive mode selection has also moved from a physical dial into a menu in the screen which is, Ford says, easily accessible. There’s also a new 360-degree camera system for easier parking.
Needless to say, there are more storage bins in this cabin than a Lamborghini has cylinders. If there’s something you can’t stow away safely or charge in here, it probably belongs in the bed, which incidentally has its own new bedliner, extra tie-down points and a new cargo management system.
“Ranger continues to go from strength to strength in Europe with record-breaking sales,” adds Hans Schep, general manager, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe.
“The smartest, most capable, most versatile Ranger yet will deliver even more of the strength and style that we know customers value.”
Sounds promising. When can you have one? Well, probably not quite as soon as you’d hope. Order books open in Europe in late 2022, for an early 2023 delivery. Oh well, at least we have time to dream of the Lightning and a Baja-bashing Raptor version...