Long ignored, the mid-size pickup truck segment has, in the last two years, been revitalized by the launch of the all-new Chevy Colorado, and the redesign of the incredibly long-in-the-tooth Toyota Tacoma. Ford plans to re-enter the market now, too, reviving the legendary Ranger nameplate for the U.S. for the 2020 model year. And now it looks like we could even get a Raptor performance version of that upcoming Ford.
Ford last sold a Ranger in the U.S. market in 2011. Believe it or not, that truck rode on the same chassis as when the Ranger launched in 1983. Full-size trucks like the F-150 just sold in such larger numbers, and have been so much more profitable, that development of smaller alternatives ground to a virtual halt. But as development of full-size trucks raced ahead, so too has their size. And that’s left many potential buyers wishing for something more manageable.
That explains in part the Tacoma's popularity, as the only mid-size truck that’s been continuously available in America over the last three decades. But it's fallen behind in update frequency, powertrain options, and interior refinement.
Chevy gambled when it launched the new Colorado for the 2015 model year. Would it lure full-size buyers to a smaller package, steal customers from Toyota, and even convert car drivers to truck buyers? The answer is proving to be a hesitant yes, and that promise has been enough for Ford to announce that it’s brining its global market Ranger to the U.S. for 2020.
On-sale in markets like Australia and Southeast Asia since 2011 (and refreshed in 2015), the current T6 generation Ford Ranger is, like its rivals, a truly modern mid-size pickup. Available with a range of small gasoline and diesel motors, it has an average fuel economy of up to 31 miles per gallon (US), making it far more frugal than the larger F-150. Combined with its smaller dimensions, that makes it a more practical choice for utility applications in markets with tighter streets and more expensive fuel. Another restyle is due in 2019: it's that model that will then go on-sale in the U.S. The new Bronco SUV will be based on the same platform, just like the current Everest SUV, which is sold in the same markets. Both vehicles are highly anticipated by American enthusiasts.
On Thursday, Ford Australia released a teaser video of a new Ford Ranger Raptor, based on the current model. Going on-sale Down Under in 2018, it’ll serve as an end-of-life sales and marketing boost for the Ranger before the 2019 restyle. No specs of performance details have been released, but clearly evident in the video are a widened body, more aggressive styling, and mechanical upgrades like beefy shocks, and aluminum lower control arms.
Along with what’ll presumably be a more powerful, turbocharged motor, that’s the formula that made the F-150 Raptor such a standout success in the American market, and such a great truck to drive. The video shows the upcoming Ranger Raptor performing the same kind of high-speed slides and jumps as the Ford F-150 Raptor can, in a similar sandy, open terrain.
The video drew immediate attention here in America, where it was picked up by every single automotive publication and garnered a ton of interest on enthusiast forums. Tellingly, the head of communications for Ford North America ran the video on his Instagram feed simultaneous to the release.
It’s too early to say for certain if the redesigned Ford Ranger we’re getting in 2020 will eventually get an upgraded Raptor version, but it is safe to say that there’s interest in such a smaller, performance truck.
Or maybe even for a Bronco Raptor.