At long last, Ford has finally unveiled the all-new Ranger, a full 10 years since the Ranger T6 was introduced. This time, the Ranger has been revamped from the ground up, and was extensively developed based around customer feedback. The new Ranger is also a true global mid-size pick-up truck (to be sold in over 180 markets), and the trio being revealed today are the XLT, Sport and Wildtrak variants.

There’s quite a lot to unpack, but we’ll start with the most exciting – the powertrain. Thanks to popular demand, a new 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel is now available for the first time. It’s the same engine used for the F-150, but adapted and tuned specifically for the mid-size Ranger. Fitting the 3.0L mill is possible thanks to a new hydro-formed front-end structure, which also allows more airflow to the radiator.

Its turbocharger benefits from a redesigned lubrication system, which helps it perform optimally in extreme tilt angles, especially during hardcore off-road use. Ford said this engine will deliver class-leading performance and an effortless towing experience, which, again, is what Ranger owners want. It’s also apparently a pretty refined unit.

Also new to the propulsion line-up is a 2.3 litre four-cylinder EcoBoost (petrol) mill, followed by the familiar 2.0 litre bi-turbo and 2.0 litre single turbo diesel engines. The oil leak issue on the bi-turbo mill has also been resolved with better gaskets design. The automaker remains tight-lipped about electrification plans, but made it clear that the reworked T6 platform is future-proofed and can be electrified.

Ranger T6 programme manager, Pritika Maharaj said “we simulate extreme customer usage by running these engines for more than 700 continuous hours at full throttle. That’s like ground around the world six times at full throttle! Oh, by the way, and doing so in temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to more than 50 degrees Celsius.”

The 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission will continue to be offered as well, this time updated to be more durable (to overcome some of the current shortcomings) and lightweight. It gets a brand new torque converter for better refinement and responsiveness, so there’s no more “lag” or dead zone when accelerating, even from standstill.

The gaps between the gear ratios have also been tightened, a move that improves power delivery at lower engine loads – this is beneficial for towing and off-roading. There’s also a new adaptive shift scheduling function that predetermines the exact gear the engine needs, but the clever part is that it adapts to your driving style. A new “Tow Haul” mode is also available, but this is likely to be exclusive to models with the 10R80 gearbox.

A new MT88 manual transmission replaces the current MT82 gearbox, and it’s specially developed for the T6 platform. According to Ford, the MT88 was tested for a period of over four years on four continents, and its modular scalable design can accommodate five- or six-speed configurations. Single turbo models will continue with the 6R80 transmission, though it has been recalibrated to be slightly more efficient than before.

As mentioned above, the Ranger still sits on the bones of the third-generation T6 platform. However, Ford said every single component of the ladder frame architecture has been “touched,” though it uses a similar suspension setup – independent front suspension and a solid beam axle with leaf springs for the rear.

The front wheels have been moved 50 mm forward (lengthening the wheelbase) for a better approach angle, and the track width is also increased by 50 mm to provide better axle articulation. The suspension frame rails have also been shifted to give drivers and passengers a more car-like ride quality, taking the Ranger’s famous multipurpose qualities a step further.

Customers will have a choice of two four-wheel drive systems. The first is the familiar part-time 4×4 with an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, while the other is a more advanced, full-time 4×4 system with a new electronic switcher and two-speed transfer case (4H and 4L). Select variants will also get the Ranger Raptor’s drive modes for the first time – also on is an electronic parking brake.

Now, let’s talk design. The Built Ford Tough motto clearly comes through at first glance, with the fascia now aligned with the rest of Ford’s pick-up range. The new “C-clamp” headlights interlocks with the new grille to create a look that exudes confidence and ruggedness, whereas the shoulder line has been made subtler, yet still putting emphasis on the more prominent wheel fenders. The fender vents sits flush against the sheet metal, and actually functions by allowing heat from the engine bay to escape.

Matrix LED lighting is offered on the Ranger for the first time, although cheaper models will get reflector LEDs or halogen reflectors. Ford cut back on the use of chrome, a move it hopes will make the Ranger more appealing to the younger crowd.

At the back is a pair of distinctive LED combination tail lights, while the tailgate handle is integrated just below the LED third brake light. The reverse camera is tucked below the Ford badge, by the way. Wheel sizes now range from 17 to 20 inches (for Wildtrak), the latter a first for the Ranger.

There are a number of useful, practical features here, starting with rear box step. This makes loading and unloading stuff easier, so customers no longer have to step on the rear wheels to access the cargo bed. The step base is textured exactly like the side steps and rear bumper steps, so it will be grippy enough for all seasons, plus the box step is structural (fits two big feet!) so it can support heavier individuals. This is standard for all variants, and it’s only a matter of time before other pick-up makers start copying it.

The cargo box is also 50 mm wider and can now accommodate full-sized pallets. There’s a new plastic-molded bedliner, 400-watt 240-volt socket, as well as load box capping to protect the paint and sheet metal. Ford integrated actual clamp pockets and a metric/imperial ruler in the tailgate, and doubled down on lighting – there’s LED load box lighting in the left- and right-hand rails for working in low light conditions, 360-degree zone lighting all around the car (can be accessed via Ford’s mobile app), and high-powered “Super Puddle” LED lamps under the wing mirrors.

Besides that, there are also structural tie down points to secure loads and a range of other aftermarket accessories (including a canopy), plus a new cargo management system with dividers to hold items of various sizes. Customers can create smaller compartments to store loose objects as well, using a system of ultra-strong spring-loaded cleats that clip into rails. There are also dual recovery hooks up front instead of one.

Inside, the cabin gets completely reworked, with the centrepiece being the massive portrait-style 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Ford SYNC 4 system. There’s also a built-in modem for over-the-air software updates and WiFi hotspot functionality, and owners can communicate with the car via the FordPass mobile app. Features such as remote engine start, vehicle status check and remote lock/unlock functions can be accessed, too.

The display integrates an array of information, including off-road data and driveline stats. Depending on the variant, there’s also a fully digital instrument panel (customisable views), 360-degree high-resolution surround view camera, and a wireless smartphone charger.

Ford developed three types of gear shifter this time, including the new short-throw variant that it said looks more modern and more intuitive to use. Other features include retractable cupholders, multiple storage bins (under and behind the rear seats), upper and lower glovebox, as well as USB-C charging ports. Lesser variants will get smaller touchscreen displays and a slightly reworked console.

The automaker has yet to reveal details that relate to the new Ranger’s advanced driving assist systems, but it did say it “set a high bar for this Ranger to excel in five key areas – stance and stability, towing, off-road capability, performance and drivability, as well as driver assist technologies. Expect a minimum of Level 2 autonomous driving, no less.

A Ranger Concierge will also be established for customers to handle sales and aftersales queries, while selected markets will get a new 4WD Test Drive session where prospective customers get to take the Ranger off-road with expert instructors.

Lastly, Ford said the new Ranger can be personalised with up to 600 factory-backed accessories, some of which were developed in collaboration with off-road icon, ARB 4×4 Accessories. Production of the new Ranger will take place at Ford’s plant in Thailand and South Africa beginning early next year, and there will be a choice of up to eight colours. Thoughts?

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