At long last, there's a new Ranger in town. More than 11 years have passed since the T6-generation midsize pickup went on sale in Australia and other markets and Ford is now finally replacing it. Adopting an evolutionary design with a Maverick-esque front fascia with C-shaped LED headlights, the new truck hides quite a few important changes underneath its oh-so-familiar skin.
For starters, the wheelbase has been extended by 50 millimetres (nearly two inches) for greater legroom for the three passengers sitting in the back. It was possible by moving the front wheels forward by the same amount, which will also pay dividends as far as the approach angle is concerned to make the Ranger more capable off the beaten path. Also at the front, a new hydro-formed structure allowed the engineers to free up more space in the engine bay for a larger V6 turbodiesel engine.
Gallery: 2022 Ford Ranger global model
Moving at the back, the track has been widened by 50 mm (two inches) to create a more spacious load area, big enough to accommodate a sheet of building plywood or a fullsize pallet, according to Ranger vehicle engineering manager Anthony Hall. Look closer and you'll notice a built-in side steps behind the rear wheels to provide easier access to the bed.
Speaking of which, the loading area has a sturdy plastic-moulded bedliner that Ford promises will withstand the test of time thanks to its rugged construction. To boost practicality, the 2022 Ranger gets additional cargo tie-down points mounted on steel tube rails to easily secure the precious items you're hauling. Much like the smaller Maverick and bigger F-150 are chock-full of nifty features, the middle child gets 360-degree lighting and a smart tailgate that can double as a mobile workbench with a built-in ruler.
Forget about the old Ranger's interior because the cabin has been completely transformed. Sitting front and centre is the SYNC4 infotainment system with either a 10.1- or 12-inch touchscreen as seen on the latest Edge while the Expedition and Mach-E have an even larger display measuring 15.5 inches. The new pickup also gets a fully digital instrument cluster to keep up with the times.
The bulky gear lever of the previous generation is gone, replaced by a fancier controller with a far more modern design. You also get a redesigned drive mode selector and an electric handbrake as you'd expect from a vehicle coming in 2022. Ford says the driver and passengers will feel as if they are in a regular car rather than a utilitarian vehicle thanks to soft-touch materials and a vast array of amenities. For a smoother ride, the rear suspension dampers have been moved outboard of the frame rails.
The revamped truck is also loaded with tech, including matrix LED headlights and a 360-degree camera. The next Ranger supports over-the-air updates (aka Ford Power-Up) and gives owners the possibility to use a smartphone app to remotely control the all-around lighting we mentioned earlier. Customers will get to pick from two four-wheel-drive setups, either an electronic shift-on-the-fly system or the more sophisticated full-time 4x4 system.
As far as engines are concerned, the old inline-five 2.5-litre diesel is replaced by that new V6 turbodiesel with a 3.0-litre displacement. Output numbers have not been provided, but Ranger programme manager Pritika Maharaj says it feels like a bigger truck when is equipped with the beefier engine. For reference, the Power Stroke available for the fullsize F-150 produces 250 bhp and 440 pound-feet (597 Newton-metres) of torque. Ford says it has adapted the oil-burner specifically for the new application, so the numbers might change.
There will also be a pair of smaller four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesels with a single- and twin-turbo setup. The former is going to be offered in two states of tune while the latter might be related to the outgoing Ranger Raptor's twin-turbo diesel packing 210 bhp and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm). Alternatively, Ford will sell its overhauled pickup with the 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.
Availability will depend on the market as not all powertrains will be offered in the 180+ countries where the Dearborn automaker intends to sell the new Ranger. Based on the type of engine installed under the bonnet, there will be a six-speed manual transmission or an automatic with the same number of gears, plus the latest 10-speed auto.
Regarding trim levels, the official images depict the XLT alongside the Sport and the off-road-oriented Wildtrak. The first one is available in the United States, but the other two have only been offered outside of the US. Logic tells us the orange-painted Wildtrak would make a lot of sense here as outdoorsy trucks and SUVs are all the rage these days. The family portrait above also shows a glorious base version painted in white featuring steelies, unpainted mirror caps, and halogen headlights while missing the fog lights.
Ford will assemble the 2022 Ranger from early next year at its factories in Thailand and South Africa in Extended Cab and Super Cab body styles. Europeans won't be able to order one until late 2022 and the first customer deliveries on the Old Continent will commence at the beginning of 2023. We've reached out to learn about the truck's launch in the United States, but a spokesperson only told us the company will disclose details about availability in North America at a later date.
As a final note, the next-generation Ranger will also serve as the foundation for the new Amarok, which will be unveiled at some point next year. The German marque has promised it will have a "clear design signature of VW" as well as "inimitable accents in terms of design and trim" to distance itself from the Ranger. The Amarok will be built in South Africa by Ford. In addition, Ford's truck will once again spawn a body-on-frame SUV equivalent as the Everest.