America demands smaller trucks? Really? Well, Ford certainly thinks so, because it’s just about to start building the all-new ‘midsize’ Ranger in Michigan to process demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient pickups in the US.
The new American Rangers are equipped with a 2.3-liter four-pot EcoBoost turbo and ten-speed auto. Which is basically a re-tuned Focus RS engine. Ford reckons it gives the outputs of a V6 with the efficiency of a four--and that ten-speed will no doubt help.
It’ll get plenty of kit, too, to try and keep it ahead of what is a very popular market segment and the trim lines run pretty much like the big-brother F-150: an 8-inch touchscreen, electric everything, Ford’s SYNC 3 multimedia with Alexa digital spying machine, a 4G modem, and plenty of charging points so you never run out of charge while attending to the ‘Gram.
On the real side of things, there’s standard Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and the like, and a Reverse Sensing System and Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage are standard on the more expensive XLT and Lariat trim levels. You can also get Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control on the latter. There’s even an optional B&O Play sound system for those that like their tunes.
But the bit that made us sit up and take notice is something called the ‘FX4’ off-road package. Now, this package isn’t new on Ford trucks in the US, but it includes off-road-spec suspension, AT tires, and underbody protection as well as the same Terrain Management System you get on the Raptor (the usual--it’s a drive-mode selector that can deal with ‘normal’; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts; and sand, tweaking throttle response and transmission strategy).
So when you add in the Trac-Lok lockable diffs--so it should actually be pretty capable if you do decide to meander off the beaten path--what you actually get is sorta-kinda a 4/5ths-scale Raptor, especially if you throw a decent tune on that engine… now there’s a thought…
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.