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Ford has finally pulled back the curtain on the next-generation Ranger coming from the second quarter of 2022, with more extensive changes and upgrades than previously thought.
Over half a decade in development right here in Australia, key differences include new sheetmetal, a redesigned cabin, a larger load area that can now accommodate a standard palette, broader powertrain choices including the rumoured 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, an overhauled platform featuring a 50mm longer wheelbase and 50mm wider tracks, bigger wheels and tyres up to 20-inches, a more advanced four-wheel-drive system depending on grade, four-wheel disc brake availability, space for two batteries, and integrated electronic brake control for towing.
The styling reflects Ford’s current North American F-Series full-sized truck thinking (particularly at the front), while the broader stance achievable because of the pushed-out tracks results in shorter front overhang and substantially better off-road capabilities as well as on-road dynamics.
While not ‘all-new’ due to the continuation of the same basic body shapes and dimensions, door and glass apertures, most chassis hard points, 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission (albeit both extensively modified) and other items, most parts are not directly interchangeable with their existing PX III Ranger counterparts, according to chief platform engineer for T6, Ian Foston.
As with the outgoing Ranger, XL, XLS, XLT, Sport and Wildtrak will be available initially as the core grades, along with the Single, Super and Double Cab body styles, 4x2 (rear-wheel drive) Low Rider, 4x2 Hi-Rider and 4x4 (four-wheel drive) Hi-Rider guises, and cab-chassis and pick-up styles.
However, the new Ranger’s exact dimensions, engine outputs, fuel consumption figures, specific safety specifications, equipment levels, payload numbers, towing capacities, pricing and other data will be revealed at later dates, as Ford staggers the information rollout over the coming weeks and months.
Which brings us to the confusing issues of ordering and availability.
Set for an on-sale date sometime in the second quarter of next year (that’s when you can start placing your order with dealers), we understand that customer deliveries won’t commence until around June or July at the earliest.
Furthermore, the highly-anticipated Raptor flagship spin-off that Ford refuses to comment on right now should arrive before the end of 2022. That’s when we will also see the Ranger’s equally changed Everest SUV sibling, though the company is also remaining silent on that one too for the time being.
As before, most grades of Ranger will be sourced out of Thailand, as well as from the Silverton factory in South Africa that has undergone a massive refurbishment to bring it up to date to match the new model’s technological advances.
Australia also continues to be the T6 ‘home room’ as per the 2011 original, with all design and engineering work for the T6.2 based at Ford Australia’s head office in Melbourne’s Campbellfield as well as the You Yangs proving ground near Geelong. That said, there has been huge input coming in from the Blue Oval outposts in Asia, America, Africa and Europe.
Ford claims that it has listened and learned from extensive owner and user feedback across some of the 180 global markets in which the current Ranger is sold in, resulting in improved functionality, access and ease, especially for people below average height.
To that end, a new integrated box step is available to help with load-area reach. There are also redesigned tub rails that are now load bearing, improved tie-down points, an integrated workbench in the restyled tailgate, access to 240W sockets, new zone lighting right around the truck for better/safer nighttime vision and a moulded bed-liner with divider locaters, among other improvements.
It’s also promising better customer aftersales care, though what these are or look like have yet to be divulged for Australian and New Zealand buyers.
The T6.2’s upgraded chassis, longer wheelbase and wider tracks necessitated all-new suspension that’s now placed further outboard. This move allows for more room for spring/damper articulation, which in turn brings greater tuning range to improve two opposing elements: ride and handling capabilities regardless of load, as well as 4x4 prowess due to greater wheel travel. Up to six off-road driving modes are featured.
Another bonus is a wider bed out back, allowing for that standard palette to fit – a rarity in this class. These are substantial changes beyond being a mere facelift or restyle.
Comfort levels also step up thanks to a new, quieter interior bringing in big changes. These include a new heater/ventilation system for more effective climate control, softer-touch materials, fresh trim/material textures and – of course – an all-new dashboard with configurable electronic instrumentation and built-in portrait touchscreen in 10.1-inch or 12.0-inch sizes depending on model.
Ford’s newest multimedia system (SYNC4) is another advance for the series, with wireless phone charging, over-the-air update capability and an imbedded modem. Fancy! Storage and optional surround-view cameras aid useability too.
The 2022 Ranger’s engine bay is also all-new, introducing a hydroformed structure to allow for the fitment of the V6 – the company’s Power Stroke 3.0-litre unit first seen in the 2018 F-150 truck but wholly modified for Ranger. However, while it is one of the T6.2’s most anticipated developments, it’s likely destined for the highest grades only like Wildtrak and Raptor, probably due to expense.
This will leave the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine familiar to Transit van customers in new single-turbo and continuing twin-turbo (Bi-Turbo in Ford-speak) tunes powering the rest of the range, replacing the old 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre four- and five-cylinder diesel engines respectively.
The 2.0-litre twin-turbo’s 10-speed auto alternative to the standard six-speed manual gearbox has a new torque converter for greater response – addressing one of the existing application’s biggest criticisms – as well as a stubby new ‘e-shifter’, while the 2.0-litre single-turbo base engine uses a six-speed torque-converter auto, along with a five-speed manual. Both manual transmissions are new.
As outlined earlier, engine outputs are not yet available, but we know that the 2.0-litre single-turbo will come in two power levels. Some models will offer four-wheel disc brakes. An electronic park brake is now fitted. And each grade has had a wheel/tyre upgrade of at least a single inch, with 20-inches now being the maximum size. Dual recovery tow hooks are now fitted, too.
Finally, Australian 4WD specialists ARB have formed a strategic collaboration with Ford for their bespoke items to be installed at Ford dealers.
The breadth and depth of change to the 2022 Ranger is extensive, but will they be enough to keep the expected final-ever mainstream Australian designed and engineered vehicle at the top of the pick-up truck pile?
Don’t bet against it, and there is much more information coming soon, so stay tuned.