New Ford Ranger: ideal for clever truckers

Published: 24 November 2021

► Next-gen version of bestselling pickup
► 3.0-litre V6 power a major upgrade
► Lots of clever tech and details

The Ford Ranger accounts for nearly 40% of the European pickup truck market – which makes this new one a pretty big deal. And from this distance, it looks like Ford is playing it smart. Not only is it available with a host of clever features, the Americanised appearance is backed up by the introduction of a big 3.0-litre V6 to satisfy power-hungry buyers.

America, truck yeah?

Actually, Ford’s Australian arm led the development, which included a lot of customer clinics as well as all the heavy-duty testing you’d expect of this type of machine.

ranger grey rear

The result is a mix of modern tech and good, solid practical thinking. For example, there’s a step behind the rear wheel to make it easier to reach into the load bed, while the tailgate can be converted into a workbench, complete with built-in ruler and facility for clamping that plank of wood you desperately need to saw into pieces.

This doesn’t mean Ford has forgotten its Ranger lifestyle customers – far from it. The interior is more plush and boasts a minimum central screen size of 10.1 inches, Sync 4 infotainment and an optional digital dial pack. You can now get matrix LED headlights, and the included Wi-Fi means over-the-air updates are on the horizon, too. This is no dumb truck.

ranger interior

So this 3.0-litre V6… is it borrowed from the Amarok?

Ah, you’re referring to the Ford-VW ‘alliance’, which means this new Ranger is also actually the next-gen Volkswagen Amarok (though the VW is based on the Ford, not the other way around).

But, no. The Ranger’s new 3.0-litre turbodiesel is built in Dagenham and related to the motor that’s already shipped over the USA to power some versions of the F-150. Here it’ll be shipped to South Africa and Thailand, where the new Ranger will be built.

There are no official power or torque figures yet, but as the top-end unit it will have to do better than the 210bhp and 369lb ft available from the Bi-Turbo 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel in the current model.

ranger blue front

That engine and the single-turbo version – which presently offers 128bhp or 168bhp – both carry over as well. Exact outputs haven’t been revealed yet, but we’re not expecting any major changes.

While hybrid and electric versions haven’t been announced, there is room in the newly hyrdo-formed engine bay for ‘other propulsion technologies’.

Will it off-road?

With conviction. There’s a choice of two different four-wheel drive systems (switchable and permanent) and changes to the ladder frame chassis include moving the front wheels 50mm further forwards – extending the wheelbase and improving the approach angle – and placing the rear dampers out-board of the frame rails, increasing articulation.

ranger offroad

Regular models will get a choice of six driving modes to assist – something only previously available on the Raptor – and there are strengthened recovery hooks, should you get stuck. Or need to rescue someone else.

Buyers will have the option of a six-speed manual transmission, six-speed automatic or 10-speed automatic, depending on engine variant. High-end autos get a new ‘e-shifter’, and there’s an electronic parking brake, too.

How practical is it?

Severely. Helped by a 50mm increase in track, the load space will now swallow a full-size pallet and/or load a ply sheet flat. The bedliner has slots moulded in, so you can make your own load dividers – or use the official ‘cargo management system’ – while removable protective capping reduces the amount of damage you’ll do to the tailgate when draping your downhill bike over the back.

Dual battery capability means you can a leisure battery under the bonnet, which will make for happy campers as well as keep those power tools turning over via a 400w inverter with AC outlet in the load bed.

ranger load bed

A new Zone Lighting system allows you to turn on individual exterior lights, should they be required for nocturnal activities. This – among many other things – can be controlled via the FordPass app on your smartphone.

Over 150 accessories are set to be available at launch.

Sold. How much does it cost?

At this point, absolutely no idea – while we’re seeing it officially for the first time now, the next-gen Ranger doesn’t go on sale until late 2022 and isn’t expected to start reaching customers until 2023.

Expect to see the same XT, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak trim levels carry over, though Ford has also shown pictures of a model labelled Sport, which we don’t currently get in the UK. No word yet on a replacement Raptor, but we’re fully expecting that model to continue as well.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Automotive Hub, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count