• Jun 5, 2007
We posted some conjecture about the Ranger not too long ago, with some Photochops to illustrate possible ways Ford could keep its smallest pickup alive. Automotive News has looked in to their crystal ball and determined that the future of the Ranger is murky, at best. The first bad sign is that the St. Paul, MN Ranger plant is slated to be closed in 2008. With no place to build the Ranger, it would seem to have one foot in the grave, along with the rest of the segment, not counting the evergreen Toyota Tacoma (which is not particularly small anymore). All is not lost, however. As we offered, there are existing platforms that would lend themselves to truckification, as well as actual trucks in different markets.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

Thailand builds the Mazda BT-50, which could slot into the Ranger's position in the model heirarchy, though it might upset the Explorer Sport-Trac's sales by being similar in size and likely price. Other options under the worldwide FoMoCo umbrella are Brazil's Courier and Australia's Falcon Ute, which seem like better options to us. We'd love to see the Ranger name continue, and the truck to keep its compact stature by sharing a car-based platform. Basing a new Ranger on unibody architecture makes a lot of sense to us, as well. Weight would be reduced, the ride and handling would improve and it'd still be able to tow as much as the current Ranger, we'd bet. Picking a pre-existing unibody platform to morph also keeps development costs lower, and sharing as many bits and pieces as possible would make a new Ranger cost less. Cost is a major issue with the Ranger, it's just too darned expensive now to sell well. A prospective Ranger buyer can step in to an F-series for not much more. Building a cost-effective Ranger replacement outside the US may be a no-go because of import tariffs, though federalizing some of that engineering and building locally may be viable if a plant can make room.

Ford's been mum about the ultimate plan for the Ranger, though we're sure they'd be loath to let it go. Keeping it around may be a tough sell, though, as the Blue Oval is bleeding cash, and there's definitely not money to throw at a total re-do of a low-volume seller. That said, sounding the death knell for the entire compact pickup segment may be a bit premature. While it appears that there's no action there, we think all the segment really needs to take off is a truck that captures people's attention and little trucks will be hot again.



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  • 33 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      What Ford needs to do is reface the truck. Find out what the after market likes. Find out what the low riders are looking for.
      I suggest for Ford Ranger, the Ford Edge look. I also think Mercury should offer a fat fender pickup. GM has the HHR and Chrysler the PT cruiser. Both sell well. Why not try a fat fender look? Yes I know there are lots of you that hate that look. All you want is the modern. But there is also a large group that want the '38-41 look back.
      A small diesel that pushes the truck 40+mpg wouldn't hurt.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If Ford were to move production anywhere in the US, i'd have to agree with the previous poster about the Explorer plant. With Explorer sales tanking you'd figure that would be a good new production site for the next Ranger. I can say with pretty good confidence that if a Ranger came out with a small diesel i'd be one of the first in line to buy it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A big part of the reason I no longer have my small truck is that they no longer exist here. I don't need or want a large truck, can't stand almost needing a step ladder to get into most, but do like the upright seating of a truck. My old Mazda B2000 was economical, could haul what I needed, and was actually fun to drive.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh to be a CEO for a day. I'd build a US version of the new Ranger from the UK in all three configurations and keep the diesel it comes with! Check it out yourself: http://www.ford.co.uk/ranger. While I'm at it I'd bring over the new Mondeo too!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I remember my 1984 Nissan longbed: bright red, mid-20's mileage, carried everything I asked it to, Kept it for 11 years and 140,000 miles, then traded it for a 1995 nissan X-tra Cab which I've had for 12 years and 210,000 miles.

      And when that goes there'll be nothing to replace it, other than the B-Series and the Ranger, which'll both be gone soon.

      Where did all the good little pickups go? "Where are the snows of yester-year?..."

      If anybody wants me, I'll be in my bedroom with the curtains drawn, curled up in the fetal position with a teddy bear and a bottle of scotch.


      • 7 Years Ago
      Thanks for the Ranger Blog. I love my 97 4x4, but I wish it got better mpg~ about 20 hwy and 18 around town. Doing a bit of research on the net, the Tacoma 4x4 weighs 3615lbs and the Ranger 4x4 weighs 3676~ 50 lbs more!

      Keep the compact size and find a way to make it weigh 500 lbs less than the Tacoma. That and a modern more effecient engine should get the 4x4 to about 25+ hwy, 4x2 to 32+. That's recipe for success.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a sad day it will be when the Ranger dies. For someone who wants a small, inexpensive pickup the Ranger cannot be beat. Have you priced a Tacoma or Frontier lately? Too big, too expensive, and crappy mileage. The Colorado/Canyon? To me, even the decades old Ranger is a better looking, better built truck than either. What GM was thinking when it came up with those I'll never know. If we can have small, medium and large SUV's why can't we have small, medium and large pickups? If Ford or Chevy could built a good, modern version of the small pickup then they'd have that whole segment to themselves.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Bad timing if it is to be discontinued as the new CAFE reqs. if passed will basically make having a small pickup in your fleet mandatory.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The problem with the Mazda BT-50 is the good old chicken tax - where are you going to build it and not get slapped with the 25% tariff? The former AutoAlliance plant where Mustangs and Mazda6's is underutilized, I think, and the plant is already flex capable...

      Car based? Did someone say Edgeamino?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Ford Falcon Cab Chasis variant is ised by a lot of tradesman in Australia. It carries more than a base F150(2700lbs), is easier to load and unload ; has car like ride and parking;7ft plus cargo bed. What goes against it in the US would be it's unusual by US standards looks and it would not be a small "truck" as far as sipping fuel goes. The Falcon Ute has a 4 Litre straight six; Turbo Six and 5.4 litre V8 engine options.
      Chris
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have a 03 Mazda B3000 and a 05 Ford Ranger they are both great little trucks I have never had a problem with either one of them they can handle anything you can throw at them and do it without hesitation they are both very durable hard working trucks and I would hate to see either one be discontinued.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just in case anyone from Ford reads this - I am a longtime Ranger owner. I have put 160k+ miles on my truck. It does what I need it to do. It is a good truck, and has reached that wonderful state where you can say it Runs Good. I would like to buy a new one, but not one that is basically the same truck that you sold in 1999. Whatever its flaws, Ford knows how to make good trucks. I bet if you built us a NEW Ranger, you could find at least 150,000 people every year who think the same as me and would buy one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have not seen a commerical advertising the Ranger, or any compact pickups in the past couple of years I guess. Anyone else notice this? That could be why they are not selling, because no one knows about them.
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