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Ford has continued its teaser campaign for the eagerly anticipated next-generation Ranger, this time detailing the lengths it has gone to make the new ute the best instalment yet in the series.
So, how did Ford improve the Ranger breed? Well, even with the COVID-related challenges thrown up in the past two years, it’s embarked upon its some of its most gruelling real-world – and virtual – testing to date.
Ford says the latest Ranger has already been subjected to about 10,000km of desert driving as well as the equivalent of 1,250,000km of “customer driving” and 625,000km of rugged off-road durability testing at maximum load capacity.
“Computer simulations have helped us speed up development, while lab testing has helped us refine and test specific components – but there really is no replacement for real-world testing to really see how it stands up to years of customer use,” Ford Ranger chief program engineer John Willems explained.
Specifically, cold-weather testing in North America and New Zealand has pushed the Ranger’s engine performance and dynamics – including electronic stability control (ESC) – to the limit in exaggerated snowy and icy conditions.
Meanwhile, hot-weather testing has taken place in the harsh deserts of Australia, the Middle East and North America, where temperatures soar past 50° Celsius.
Australia has also played host to the Ranger’s extensive durability testing and validation at Ford’s proving ground and research and development centre in Lara and Geelong, Victoria, respectively.
The Ranger’s punishment across five continents is helping to prepare it be sold in more than 180 markets, making it Ford’s only truly global ute given not only its breadth of availability, but also its right- and left-hand-drive configurations.
“It’s important that our customers are able to rely on Ranger to deliver years of dependable service,” Mr Willems said.
“So, we’ve gone to great lengths to subject next-gen Ranger to extreme tests – stressing it much more than a typical consumer would – to help ensure it is ready to face everything life throws at it.
“Whether it’s tackling muddy bush tracks, coping with the rigours of extreme tropical weather, towing over alpine passes, or enduring temperatures of more than 50° Celsius, Ranger has to do it all.”
As reported, the fresh Ranger will be revealed later this year ahead of its Australian launch in 2022. As such, there’s still a lot we don’t officially know about it.
That said, lightly camouflaged development mules have been spied in Thailand in the past week, confirming some key details along the way, including the introduction of rear disc brakes and the return of the XLT, FX4 and Wildtrak grades.
Also expected is a redesigned interior, with Ford's latest Sync4 multimedia system all but confirmed alongside a large central touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster, with the former possibly in a portrait orientation.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive for a long time now regarding the Ranger’s evolving engine line-up, which is tipped to be headlined by a pair of V6s.
Specifically, a 3.0-litre single-turbo diesel with about 185kW/600Nm is expected from launch alongside a 2.7-litre twin-turbo petrol with around 230kW/540Nm, while a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) was recently spied testing in Europe ahead of its release later down the line.
The series’ current 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder engine is rumoured to be the only carryover unit, with a 130kW/420Nm single-turbo version of it tipped to be used by entry-level variants. Stay tuned.