Ford has declared the Ranger will once again raise the bar in the ute segment when its next-generation model is revealed late next year.
Putting pressure on the Ranger to go to the next level is the Toyota HiLux, which recently received a significant facelift, while the now-related Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 will be replaced by new-generation models this month and next respectively.
Speaking to journalists this week, new Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic acknowledged the challenges the Ranger faces, with its rival trying to keep it honest.
“It’s a really competitive segment, so we know we can’t be complacent. We have to keep investing, we have to keep pushing ourselves,” he said.
Key to the Ranger’s response is Ford’s Melbourne-based Asia Pacific product development centre, which has more than 2000 designers and engineers on staff, many of whom are busy working on the ‘T6.2’ model, which is expected to go sale as late as early 2022.
Mr Birkic is all too familiar with the project, having previously served as the Ranger and related Everest large SUV’s chief product marketer, so his belief in what’s coming next comes as no surprise.
“What I can tell you is the team is very focused on delivering the next Ranger and the next Everest,” he said. “The competition is raising the bar.
“We believe we’re a pioneer in this space, if you go back to when we launched the new Ranger a few years ago, and it’s our job to continually raise that bar.
“And obviously being part of that program, I’m confident that we’ve got a really strong story coming.”
As reported, the T6.2 Ranger will feature a redesigned exterior and interior, while the older 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.2-litre five-cylinder single-turbo diesel engines will not carry over.
That said, the newer 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine will transition across to the T6.2 Ranger, although it will be joined by a 130kW/420Nm single-turbo version for entry-level variants.
New additions for the T6.2 Ranger will include two V6 engines for flagship grades, including a 3.0-litre single-turbo diesel producing about 185kW/600Nm, and a 2.7-litre twin-turbo petrol developing around 230kW/540Nm.
The T6.2 Ranger is likely to be available with the choice of a six-speed manual or a 10-speed torque-converter automatic, although the sole petrol engine option might be exclusively mated to the latter.
And yes, even a petrol-electric hybrid version of the T6.2 Ranger is on the cards. What is more of a sure thing, though, is improved safety via an expanded suite of advanced driver-assist systems.
You can read more about the T6.2 Ranger and even its eventual ‘T7’ successor in the links above. Of note, Volkswagen’s next-generation Amarok will be related to the former.