The mid-size market in North America has long been dominated by the likes of the Toyota Tacoma. With its good looks, reasonable performance and good value, it makes sense as to why. But, the world is bigger than North America, and outside the confines of our borders, other trucks are respected as the go-to workhorses and adventure mobiles that people rely on day-in and day-out. In these far reaches of the globe, the best-selling truck in more than a dozen countries is the Ford Ranger.
The T6 Ranger we’ve all come to love as a reliable global workhorse, is a bit dated – especially when it arrived on the American shores just a short few years ago as a ‘all-new’ model, at the ripe age of eight years-old. Ford did their homework though, as the ‘new’ model was immediately successful and enjoyed a wide spread of immediately available aftermarket parts from various parts of the world.
Now, four years later – the new Ranger is finally here and Ford actively went out of their way to address their customer’s biggest concerns. Power, performance and adventure were the biggest takeaways when redesigning the Ranger. When performing their market studies, Ford noted that 76% of their customers wanted more power available and wanted to refocus the mission of their Ranger’s as an adventure focused platform. A truck that was capable of extending their reach into the wilderness on the weekend, and work for them during the weekday.
With their market research in mind, Ford took upon themselves the task of making the Ranger better in the categories that mattered most. The frame was the first focus; making improvements to the chassis required major updates. Moving the front axle forward two inches, and the rear axle rearward two-inches allowed a four-inch longer wheelbase inside the same body dimensions as before, improving approach and departure angles and having even bigger effects on stability and load capacity. Further, the track width was widened two-inches and geometries were revised. This is most evident with the Raptor Ranger, which is widened an additional three-inches, fitted with Fox 2.5” “livewire” dampers, and in the rear; a Watts 6-link suspension is fitted with coilovers made for high-speed running and paired with 33” BFgoodrich KO3 tires and unique 17” beadlock rims.
For the standard Ranger, the 2.3L inline-four turbocharged Ecoboost returns and is welcomed by the 2.7L V6 turbocharged Ecoboost drafted from the Bronco. Power is directed through Ford’s 10R60 10-speed automatic transmissions, which received nearly four million miles of durability testing. For Ranger Raptor, the 3.0L V6 H.O Ecoboost is standard, putting down a whopping 405 horsepower and 435lbs-ft of torque through a 10R80 transmission.
Interior is revised throughout the entire lineup featuring brand new seats, with thousands of hours of research into comfort from all body types available. With seating comfort massively improved (the seats are really nice), focus was then placed on the ergonomics of the interior. Being an adventure platform, Ford knew it was necessary to have hard wearing components on the inside, but also a soft tactile and welcoming touch with visually quality materials. Owing to this unique challenge, Ranger features both durable hard wearing components in the lower half of the cabin or statistically high wear locations, and a combination of soft touch pleasant surfaces anywhere you put your hands or gaze upon frequently. Receiving Ford’s house B&O 680watt sound system and a 12” vertical center stack infotainment – technology and how it integrates into your life is at the forefront of consideration. Moving rearward, the rear seats fold flat to allow for a ton of easy storage, or flip up to durable drainable cubbies and toolkits.
Returning to an all steel body, the outside of the Ranger is gorgeous and well thought-out by the Ford design team. Featuring some of the best dressed headlights and taillights on any truck, not just the mid-size segment, Ford set their sights on developing a lighting package that not only looked good, but was incredibly visible on the road in adverse conditions as well. Those same taillights are home to Ford’s BLIS blindspot monitoring, and new for 2024, Ranger can push that blindspot all the way out past the end of your trailer to make sure your blind spots are covered no matter the situation. New to backing up a trailer? Made the decision to get a super short wheelbase camper? Pull into camp at midnight, dog tired and just want to sleep? Ford’s backup trailer assist, one of their best software showcases – is available on Ranger and can remember up to five different trailer profiles for things like blind spot monitoring, trailer brake control, and other metrics.
The bed is fully redesigned, with both 12V and a 440 watt 120V power outlet and LED box lighting. The biggest bragging rights for the bed are due to its widened wheel arches, because now you can accommodate full four foot wide sheets of plywood flat between the wheel arches. That makes two trucks that can do that, Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline.
With that many refinements to the existing chassis, Ford is playing the evolution game with the platform and it is paying dividends. Equipped with what was already a blue-ribbon winning design, Ford took a lot of lessons learned from Bronco Raptor’s development and integrated it into its sidekick. The results are not only staggeringly good, but in some ways – not quite what we expected.
Ford’s Raptor lineup now exists as a performance halo over three of their truck lines – and the recipe seems to have always been the same: power + suspension = Raptor = hooligan. We are happy to report that the Ranger Raptor is no different than its family members, but it has a specific task. While the OG Raptor and Raptor R riding on its F150 chassis is a Belgian Malinois-level focused speed demon of the desert, and Bronco Raptor a rock eating masochist of Johnson Valley; Ranger Raptor has a different focus. Born and engineered in Australia, Ranger Raptor has been tailored to be a narrow double track fighter. Made for plunging through narrow juniper forests and dodging suicidal kangaroos, Ford did the most unlikely and ballsy thing they have ever attempted to do with a truck.
Not made for desert blasts or rocks, they engineered the fastest truck they could reasonably fit on a forest trail. With full-time Four wheel drive, front torsion differential, rear locker and tailored terrain management – we have essentially what is a Focus RS with a bed. Ken Block would be proud.