The Ford Ranger returns

If you’ve been reading this page for a while you’ll be aware that I’m a big fan of the current world-market Ford Ranger pickup (or ute, or backie, as it’s called in its major markets). In 2012 I compared it favorably with the then-current-generation Toyota Hilux here. (Note that my pipe dream of a U.S.-market Hilux failed to materialize.) Briefly, the Ranger combines a fully boxed chassis with sophisticated running gear, attractive styling, and, when equipped with the superb 3.2-liter turbodiesel, an astounding 31-inch fording depth.

Now Ford has announced that the Ranger will return to the U.S. market, built here probably starting as a 2018 model. In the short video on the Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forum, here, the spokesman notes that the U.S. Ranger will have “. . . unique front style, engines, and features.”

Hmm . . .

That statement could mean many things. Our Ranger might be identical to the world version except for a different front end, the addition of a U.S.-spec gasoline engine in addition to the 3.2 diesel, and “features” expected by Americans, such as backup cameras, Bluetooth connectivity, etc. Or it could mean a substantially different truck with no diesel. We’ll have to wait and see. However, since the just-refreshed Tacoma is still saddled with an open-channel frame and rear drum brakes, it won’t take much for the new Ranger to massively outclass it on paper, as does the current Chevrolet Colorado.

Also of note is the intriguing reference to the return of the Bronco. If I were the execs at Ford I would make one of my pre-release goals buying up every surviving example of the mid-70s Bronco II and crushing them, then erasing all references in company literature. Every time Ford named something the “II” back then it was a ghastly, emasculated shadow of whatever the “I” was: Mustang II (and, heinously, Cobra II), Bronco II, even LTD II. Better to try to pretend they never existed.