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Ford has managed to squeeze out a bit more space in the 2022 Ranger, in its drive to make the redesign more appealing inside as well as out.
When deliveries begin by the middle of next year, buyers will discover a completely overhauled cabin that addresses one of the biggest criticisms of the existing PX III model – its ageing look and dated technologies.
The goal, according to Ford interior design manager Nick Eterovic, was to create “a calm and confident space” with higher quality materials, improved practicality and a greater sense of cohesion.
T6.2 interior work began in earnest five years ago, with extensive research carried out by Ford in Australia, Asia, Europe and South America to learn how existing Ranger owners use their vehicles around the globe.
“We followed them at work and leisure,” Mr Eterovic said.
While the exterior is clearly a redesign, with fresh sheetmetal sitting on wider tracks and an extended wheelbase (with all of those extra 50mm located ahead of the windscreen, not behind it, so the cabin isn’t longer than before), the most obvious difference inside is an all-new dashboard that is better integrated with the rest of the interior, melding more seamlessly with the doors.
Along with large screens in clusters offering customisable digital instrumentation replacing all dials (you don’t have to choose to sacrifice data for a tachometer any longer, folks), it boasts either a 10.1-inch or 12.0-inch portrait-aspect touchscreen depending on grade with split-screen app functionality. Importantly, research showed that owners prefer an integrated screen within the instrument panel, rather than a floating screen, as the latter was seen as flimsy and ‘not tough’ or ‘truck enough’. Fair enough.
The multimedia system has also been brought kicking into this decade, thanks to the switch to Ford’s SYNC 4 operating system with better and faster performance, as well as greater functionality. Among other things, there is now over-the-air updates capability and a wireless smartphone charger. And the camera transmits a 360-degree surround-view picture on that larger screen on some grades, providing better all-round vision and peace of mind for drivers.
Drivers will also notice the short-throw ‘e-shifter’ that was chosen in lieu of the rounded shifter found in other modern Fords like the Focus, as well as an electronic park brake.
The new Ranger’s doors might look similar to before, but they have been completely changed, with different inner workings to match their restyled outer skins – including a new single-movement door handle action when exiting, as research showed owners are often carrying bulky items.
By the way, in the Dual Cab models, the rear doors now also open wider, for easier access to the rear compartment. The rear seat now has a full fold-flat function for a more level load area too, and there’s more storage underneath and out behind that comes with it.
Owners might also appreciate the better driving position that’s possible due to the long-overdue fitment of a reach as well as tilt-adjustable steering column, allowing a broader range of people to get comfortable behind the restyled steering wheel.
Speaking of comfort, the seats have been overhauled and are slightly less bulky. Along with a less protruding instrument panel and door cards, they collectively increase interior space, though only by several millimetres compared to before.
Storage options have increased, with more hidden compartments for greater security, such as the new concealed dashtop box, as well as easier access to the now-retractable cupholders. The Ranger now offers three types of lower centre console layouts, with more space liberated due to the relocation of the old bulky 4x4 controls.
These are findings that have come sprung out of Ford’s research, along with the push to elevate the sense of quality inside.
Interestingly, while demonstrating advancements was a top priority for the new Ranger, maintaining a visual and functional relationship with the old model is also vital, particularly given how well-received the Australian-designed and -engineered truck has been. One example are the vertical dash vents, which worked just fine before.
Ford’s interior creators were happy to experiment with trim and texture, with varying fabric styles and textures to break up the appearance, add cosiness and a comfy feel.
The new model moves away from a chrome look to glossy, piano black finishes on some grades. Golf-ball inspired techno grain can be found on the upper dash and other hard plastic areas. The air vent vanes mirror the interlocking bar grille detailing too. There are also more modern horizontal lines, and while using soft-touch materials with patterns and edges in a pick-up might not seem prudent, they remain commercial grade, so should last.
The aim here is to provide a more vibrant, playful approach, providing more personality and more than just a basic work tool to truck owners. Even the base XL features interesting yet robust finishes. Moving up to the mid-series XLT sees a bit more flair, refinement and elegance but without being too flashy, while the Wildtrak is all about attitude, striking graphics and premium materials.
We can’t wait to see what the Raptor’s cabin has in store.
To summarise, then, Ford says the T6.2’s interior mantra was “must be ready for work, family and play, often in the same day”, with the goal to create a flexible, modern and good for family cabin that serves as a sanctuary.