And so here we are at Cobo Hall in Detroit, where the 2019 Ford Ranger is unveiled about a year before it begins production in North America, as a "lifestyle" truck not meant to capture any would-be full-size pickup buyers who need a work tool.
It's a real truck. Ford is keen to catch the midsize truck wave; sales in the segment are up 83 percent since 2014 "as a new generation of midsize truck buyers seek more maneuverable, fuel-efficient pick-ups".
What differentiates the North American Ranger from the global model is the bumpers: Ours are steel and are mounted directly to the frame for superior durability and crashworthiness. The suspension ought to provide a competent ride, thanks to monotube dampers in all four corners and a short-long arm front suspension design. A rear camera and emergency braking are standard, and pre-collision assist, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control are available.
Australia's appetite for the likes of the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and Volkswagen Amarok has not kicked off quite as strongly as in the United States, but the brands are recognising the strength of the 4x4 dual-cab segment - the slice of the light commercial vehicle market that's more popular with private buyers.
"We see more of an opportunity that didn't exist five years ago", Ford truck marketing manager Todd Eckert said.
Ford isn't revealing output numbers yet, but the new ranger will have a 2.3 liter EcoBoost engine with a ten-speed transmission. This includes an aluminum hood and tailgate, aluminum front fenders, a fresh front-end design, different doors, and of course, a unique powertrain. The more off-road friendly FX4 Off Road pack will kit the Ranger with specialist shock absorbers, all-terrain tyres, a front bash plate, and frame-mounted skid plates. The system can shift on the fly to automatically change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, and vehicle controls to tailor traction, driveability, and performance to any given terrain or weather condition.
Being that not every new, adventurous Ranger owner will have much off-road experience, Ford plans to offer a few pieces of tech on the FX packages to ensure that owners still have a decent chance to get where they're going, skillset be damned. It's been programmed with four modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Rut, and Sand. There's also some new seats and trims, and a tidied up dash layout and controls. FordPass Connect will give the Ranger Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, ensuring that new adventurous owners can post their adventurous lifestyles to their favorite social media outlets, making the rest of our life feel uninteresting and void of Ranger-worthy adventure. Ford's Smart Trailer Tow connector, which alerts the driver to faulty trailer connections, will also be optional. The second row in the SuperCrew also features underseat storage that's waterproof. The FX2 variant gets all of the above, but only two powered wheels.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said at the 2017 auto show that both vehicles will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.