One of the most popular pickup trucks on the planet, the Ford Ranger is manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It’s a firm favourite globally (and with us!) for being beautiful, robust, and timeless. This high-performance pickup truck has a rich history but comes from humble beginnings. Here’s a look at how the impressive Ford Ranger has evolved into the classic we know and love today…
Introduction/First Generation (1983-1992)
The Ford Ranger’s North American Story began in 1983 when they launched a new smaller pickup truck to go head-to-head against their main competitor, Chevy. This was Ford’s first self-produced compact pickup truck to replace the Mazda Courier. Ford knew they needed a smaller pickup than its already popular F-150 series, which for many, was simply too big, and as a result the Ford Ranger was introduced. This first edition of the Ford Ranger was an immediate success, as it was the best-selling compact pickup truck in the USA from 1987-2004. A tough little truck for people who needed to haul things. Even though it was much smaller than its older brother, the Ford F-Series, there were key differences that made the Ford Ranger more appealing to the consumer. The Ford Ranger models with 4×4 capabilities matched or even exceeded the F-100’s payload abilities with a maximum payload of 1,600 pounds. Other key differences were additional engine choices (adding a V6 and a 4-cylinder diesel engine option to the standard inline-four-cylinder) and it had a six or seven-foot-long bed. It had a leaf-spring rear suspension and an independent front suspension made from high-strength steel as opposed to forged steel. This made the overall weight of the Ford Ranger significantly less, which led to a better fuel economy without compromising strength. Almost 250,000 Rangers were sold in 1985 alone, but its best-selling years were still to come. This may be due in part to the very reasonable price tag of $6203 (adjusted for inflation this would be $16,570).
Second Generation (1993-1997) Redesign and Refresh
The Ford Ranger was immensely popular and incredibly successful, but it needed an upgrade to remain fresh. This led to a major redesign and in 1993 the Ford Ranger Second Generation was introduced. The grille size was reduced substantially, creating a smoother, more aerodynamic face for the Ranger and slight fender flares were added to the body contour to give a more rounded look. This redesign sought to improve the overall driving experience by making improvements to reliability and acceleration. This redesign was well received by consumers as the Ford Ranger went on to win the coveted “Pickup Truck of the Year” award.
Third Generation (1998-2012)
The Ford Ranger underwent another major redevelopment in 1998 and the Third Generation Ford Ranger was released. Revisions to the suspension and steering mechanisms gave drivers a much smoother ride, and a 25L I-4 engine gave a 6% boost in power. Another unique feature, the Ford Ranger was the only pickup to offer an option of a Super cab with suicide doors. This allowed space for 2 seats in the backseat and being able to carry more passengers or cargo in the cab. The concept of a Super cab was then extended to full size pickups.The Ford Ranger grew substantially in the course of the 1998 redo, but the hood line lowered, and the rear window grew, allowing for greater overall visibility. The Ford Ranger’s popularity may again be partly due to the cost. The base price in 2000 was $11,485. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $16,747, or approximately the same as the Ranger’s 1980s price equivalent. In short, the Ford Ranger remained the “people’s pickup.”
Fourth Generation (International 2012 – 2019)
Between 2012 and 2018, Ford Rangers were still making great sales in markets around the world, except the US market. And throughout these years, the Ford Ranger didn’t receive any major changes. Subtle variants were made such as an extended grille, aluminium chassis, as well as several advanced safety and driver assistance features. At the same time, 2012 to 2018, North America saw a 7-year hiatus of the Ford Ranger as its production was retired so focus could be redirected to the larger F series pickup trucks. Fords rationale was that they needed to concentrate on the full-size pickup trucks which ultimately generated the bulk of its global profits. However, once again they found the latest F-150 to be too big and too expensive for the typical consumer and by the time 2018 came around Ford decided to relaunch its smaller Ford Ranger version to retail alongside the larger siblings.
Return of the Ford Ranger (2019)
In 2019, the fourth generation Ford Ranger was debuted in the United States market for the first time in almost a decade. However, the new Ford Ranger would no longer be marketed as a compact truck. It would now be the company’s first-ever entry-level, mid-size truck. The 2019 Ford Ranger is built for individuals who want strength and utility, but don’t want a massive vehicle like the F-150. Available in three trim levels, all 2019 Ford Ranger models are powered by a 2.3L Eco-boost engine that generates 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Introduction of the Ford Ranger Raptor (2019)
The Ford Ranger Raptor was introduced in 2019. This special model is based optically on the US model F-150 Raptor and was developed by Ford Performance for real off-road enthusiasts. The Ford Ranger Raptor is considered the “ultimate ranger” and is proving itself to be an off-roading contender equipped to take on any challenge. Equipped with all-wheel drive, all terrain tyres, a custom, ultra-strong chassis frame made of high-strength, low-alloy steel, and race-inspired FOX Pro suspension, the Ford Ranger Raptor offers maximum off-road capability.
Current Generation (2019-present)
Today, it’s safe to say that the Ford Ranger has come a long way since its initial release way back in 1983. Those early models have become collectors’ items while the newest models remain incredibly popular. The new, current generation Ranger has certainly lost it’s compact truck image, especially with the 4X4 Super-crew cab, but even so, consumers are still as eager and excited to purchase the new style Ranger as they were when it was first released. Oh, and let’s not forget, the new Ranger has won the coveted Best Pickup Award, not one, not two, but three years in a row!