The first spy shots of the 2019 Ford Ranger pickup were captured as the automaker tested the mid-sized truck on the streets near its Dearborn, Mich., headquarters Tuesday.
Ford Motor Co. is developing a U.S. version of the truck, which it currently sells in Europe and other overseas markets. Ford last sold the Ranger in the U.S. during the 2012 model year. It ended production to focus on its larger F-150 pickup, which is the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. market.
The automaker announced plans to return the Ranger pickup truck to its North American vehicle lineup in 2019 — and another popular nameplate, the Bronco midsize SUV, to its global vehicle portfolio in 2020 — during a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month.
These photos are of a so-called mule – a version used for testing but not a final prototype. At this point, it's hard to see whether the U.S. ranger will look much different from the model sold globally. The North American version may wear its own unique design that picks up on the styling of Ford’s larger F-Series trucks. Overseas markets tend to prefer more aerodynamic, car-like styling for their pickups as opposed to the classic American box design.
The new Ranger is expected to be equipped with a full complement of Ford EcoBoost four- and six-cylinder engines and perhaps a diesel option. Ford may use the direct injected twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 as the premium choice. Ford's new ten-speed automatic, co-developed with General Motors, will likely be integrated into the powertrain. A two-wheel drive configuration is expected to be part of the standard package with the Ranger also offering a four-wheel drive upgrade.
By returning the Ranger to the U.S. market, Ford is trying to take advantage of an upswing in mid-size pickup truck sales.
The smaller pickup trucks are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. market. Americans purchased almost 450,000 midsize pickups last year, a 25.5 percent gain over 2015.
“We have seen the positive response in the market for the physical size of the smaller trucks,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technology officer and director of global product development, told Trucks.com in January.
Editor’s note: Photos and story by Brian Williams for Trucks.com.