Why the Next-Gen Ranger should excite you as a 4WDer

I was lucky last night to somehow score a ticket to the Global Launch of the #NEXTGENRANGER in Sydney, even being handed special media privileges.  I’m still not sure how I managed that, and I must admit I felt very out of place stepping into the same room as ‘real’ media experts.

Putting that aside, I found a familiar face and then we had some others join us at the table.  Not long after we were run through exactly the same global launch as some of you would have seen before we got the chance to see a Prototype up close and personal. 

One of the Designers takes us through the vehicle

My first impression was that this is a clear evolution, despite most things being redesigned.  When you see the vehicle up close, you realise the design does still link back to the existing vehicle in a number of ways, despite just about everything being developed from the ground up.

It feels like an evolution rather than massive step change when you get closer…
Interesting styling on the doors, and bigger tyres
An integrated step to help accessing the Tub

I also got the opportunity to have a number of great chats to Ian Foston, Ford’s Chief Engineer, who also worked on the previous generation Ranger. Talking to him, I realised just how hard Ford has worked to bring this vehicle to life.

There are a number of things 4WDers should be excited about with the release of this vehicle.  They are:

  • Increase in on and off-road ability, thanks to:
    • New off-road modes
    • Increased ground clearance
    • Rated Recovery/Tow points
    • Longer wheel base (front wheels 50mm further forward)
    • 50mm wider wheel track
  • Dedicated space for a Dual Battery and associated wiring
  • New engines and drive-train options
  • More Modular than ever design
  • Clever practical improvements

Increase in off-road ability

While it looks like a first drive of the new Ranger Off-road is still a little while away, Ford has really continued to push development of capability with the Ranger, and a number of things they’ve changed are a strong indicator of the improvements this vehicle will bring.

The first one (and something I am excited about) is the introduction of off-road modes into the Ranger.   This is something that has been taken from the Everest and Raptor and enhanced. What it means is that there will now be terrain modes which will help dial up or dull traction control, throttle response, and even differential locking.  From my experience with the Everest, these will be great additions and make the vehicle even more capable.

Terrain modes now available to supplement the standard 4H, 4L and 2H modes, as well as a 4A in some models.

The other exciting thing is that the next generation will have improved Ground clearance, thanks to a larger diameter tyre. 

A longer wheelbase, which moves the front axle forward 50mm will increase the wheelbase and improve the approach angle.  A 50mm wider wheel track standard will also allow for improved stability off-road, and also facilitate improvements to suspension travel and ride, both on and off-road.

Longer wheelbase, with the front axle moving 50mm further forward.
A wider stance, with a 50mm increase in wheel track

Finally, recovery and tow points on the vehicle will be rated (rating unknown yet)

Dedicated space for a Dual Battery

The redesign of the front end will create space for a second battery, taking away the pain current Ranger owners have in trying to decide where to hide it.  Given a dual battery system is a key enabler for long range touring, it shows that Ford has really listened to the customer.  In addition, you can expect wiring to be pre-run to make connecting electrical accessories even easier. 

New Engines and drivetrain

V6 power will be an option

Yes, it has been confirmed that a V6 Diesel engine will be an option in the Ranger, supported by a twin and single turbo version of the current 2.0L.  There will also be a Petrol option, the 2.3L Ecoboost although this is not expected in Australia.

There will be a number of transmission options, and a choice of full-time 4WD in some models, as well as the traditional part-time 4X4. 

While performance numbers are not yet available, it looks like the cooling system on the new Ranger is going to be larger, which could suggest power and torque tweaks to the current bi-turbo engine, but also shows the commitment to the bigger V6. The continuation of the 2.0L shows Fords faith in its suitability and longevity too.

More Modular than ever design

One of the things that stuck out for me from my chat with the chief engineer was his comment on the fact that the vehicle is more modular and customisable than ever.  It seems that Ford understand the desire for every customer to really make the vehicle their own, and instead of fighting this, they are embracing it.

The choice of specs, driveline, and engines shows this. But that is just the start.  They have engineered this to make it easy to customise and modify, and the fact that there will be 600 accessories for the Ranger available from the day the first one is delivered shows a commitment to this.  And Yes, there will be factory backed suspension lifts available too. 

Clever Practical Improvements

Bigger, more spacious cabin, with simplified controls
Tailgate doubles as a workbench, with measuring and clamping ability
Clever things like a step to help access gear in the tub…

There are a lot of clever practical improvements to the Ranger with this generation.  More cabin space with a redesigned Dash.  A huge touch screen with secondary buttons removed to simplify use.  An integrated step into the rear of the vehicle to allow you to reach more easily into the tub.  Measuring points and clamping points on the tailgate which means you can use it as a workbench.  Moveable tiedown points so you can adjust to your load.  The ability to fit a full size pallet in the back.  It isn’t one game changing thing, but lots of little things that really move the whole vehicle forward.

The Takeout

This is a very exciting vehicle, which shows a real depth of thinking from a manufacturer, not only for right now, but for what will come during the lifespan of the vehicle.  I believe from what I’ve seen that this vehicle really will set a new benchmark for comfort, capability and performance.  Couple this with they way they have partnered with ARB to support the customization and personalisation of the vehicle, this really is something amazing for the industry.

No matter how you use a 4X4 ute, this vehicle has been designed to appeal, but it looks to also have improved on-road handling, refinement, and off-road capability all at the same time – no mean feat!

Other manufacturers will be forced to follow suit, and that means that as off-roaders we will benefit from better vehicles, with more choice and more capability.

Well done Ford – we can’t wait to drive one!

Aiden

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Comments 14

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  1. I would be curious if they have considered an increase to the GCM and GVM to allow better towing while still retaining the 3500kg braked tow capacity. That would be a winner and show that they believe in a strong product and drivetrain. Maybe if it is customisable, that could be an option they could introduce where it has to be matched to certain engines and gearbox to meet/be granted that increase? Current models limit true towing capacity when at GVM to about 3000 kg requiring a balancing between the weight of the van and ute ending in a bigger caravan = smaller ute load.

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  2. This is NOT exciting news for me.

    I drive a 3.2l Ranger but recently bought a Tesla as a second car: This IS exciting news!
    After having driven the Tesla now for four weeks going back to the old dinosaur just sucks!
    I would not buy another fuel burner. Apart from the many extras like having a lockable front trunk that’s perfect for a ute, off-grid power and air-conditioning all night when camping, quietness, constant and massive power when you need it, no car service!, only 10% of the parts of a fuel burner that can break, and so on, and so on… it just puts this Ford straight into the graveyard by the time it hits the market. There is a reason why Tesla is now the most valuable car manufacturer in the World before Ford, GM, Volkswagen and all the others. They just can’t keep up with the demand.

    Ford is introducing its F-150 Lightning electric ute in the US, a smaller version for Australian conditions would be perfect. Just look it up – it will come. Just a matter of time and then people will struggle selling their old diesel dinosaur. They are already forbidden in many European cities.
    And in regards to range anxiety that many are now screaming – how can you go off-road where there is no way to charge? Not many people know that Ford also holds a patent of adding a generator into the front boot to recharge the batteries should you go on a long outback trip. I always charge overnight. I come home at 6pm and the car is full the next morning. But if I ever end up at a charger away from home it usually takes 20 minutes for 80% and then there could be that generator solution for the very fearful…

    So, personally this Ranger above is a no-no for me. Sorry! But some readers might feel different especially those who have never driven an EV.

    1. Electric vehicles are completely unsuitable for regional Australia.
      Maybe they are suitable for inner city drivers.
      Why electric vehicles? …. that operate from power generated from coal fired power stations ….. it doesn’t add up!

      1. Bryce,
        First of all: I live in very rural Australia and it is PERFECT as a second car. I charge it at night and always have a full car in the morning being capable of ~400km on one charge. So while it will NOT be suitable for ALL people, it will be for 90% of the population – which is perfectly fine.

        Secondly, this coal argument is so old and still isn’t true. Please do your research.
        No investment company in their right mind will invest any money in new coal powered power station and the existing ones will be shut down one after the other (yesterday, the Lithgow plant was demolished). But even IF we would power it from the old plants EVs would be 3x (three times!!) more efficient than any internal combustion engine in a car having less impact on the environment. And in short time those coal plants are gone anyway.

      1. Hasbin,
        I don’t know how you get to this conclusion? I’ve worked in automotive manufacturing research overseas. Hydrogen has ALWAYS been a vehicle by the manufacturers to extract money from the Government for research. That’s all it is. But they won’t tell you.
        Why on Earth would I throw money towards big corporations buying hydrogen fuel if I can charge from my solar cells at home? Yes, it may make sense in certain circumstances but not in cars. As I stated before: 80% charge in 20 minutes in a Tesla and the next generation of batteries will be even faster.

  3. A couple of questions I still have that were missed.
    Have they addressed the drive train failure (gearbox/transfer/rear diff) issues?
    The lt/100 km was bounding 2 to 4lt for every “evolution” in real word driving, have they found a solution?
    How are they planning to fix the customer service/warranty claim issues as they roll this new model out?
    Are they planning on rolling out some outdated electric version?

  4. I too will be waiting for a few more years until the Rivian R1T arrives in Oz. The servos currently t being refurbished are cable for electric chargers. Check it out on YouTube for the test drives in the colorado mountains to see something really exciting.

  5. Have they improved the turning circle??

    We have a Wildtrack and Jeep GC.

    It’s a almost a 3 point turn in a residential street, we have a Jeep that can do it in a single turn…….
    I choose the Jeep when towing as I know I can get out of almost any place.

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