We guess it's easy to make something good even better. But how do you turn the best better...er? That's the case for Ford, who miraculously managed to improve on the best-selling pickup truck in the Philippines. This is the new Ranger.
Thanks to Ford Philippines, we got to see this new tough(er) truck in the sheet metal at the Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) during its global reveal. And the first thing to hit us is its updated front end. Sharing some styling cues with its SUV sibling, the all-new Everest, the Ranger gets a new set of headlights, a huge trapezoidal chrome grill, and a more 'muscular' hood.
By 'muscular' they mean it now has more creases, curves, and bulges to accentuate the 'Built Ford Tough' design.
Although not mentioned in the press data, we also noticed that there's a new front-mounted underbody apron. Our best guess is that it somehow helps improve aero, but not obtrusive enough to affect the Ranger's 230 mm ground clearance or its 800 mm water wading depth. Meanwhile, the 17-inch rims are beefier versions of the set fitted on the current XLT.
Smarter at Heart
While the exterior already gets a pretty extensive 'facelift', Ford has gone an extra step further when it comes to the interior. For starters, there's a new Ford's SYNC 2 connectivity system. This new tech should be easier to use than the old SYNC they say, aided by more natural voice commands. It also rids of the numerous buttons on the center console, which has been replaced by an 8-inch touchscreen. And yes, that too controls the in-car entertainment and (optional) navigation systems.
Then, they've upgraded the old analogue gauges with a more modern dual-TFT instrument cluster, similar to the one found in the more upscale Explorer. Ford even went as far as putting a 240V power socket at the back for convenience's sake.
But what really caught our eye is the new Ranger's dashboard. Because for some reason, Ford believed that there was a need to swap out the old dash for an entirely new design that resembles the one found in the all-new Everest.
As far as mechanical equipment are concerned, both the 2.2L 4-cylinder and 3.2L 5-cylinder Duratorq TDCi diesels have been retained as well as the 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. But with some tinkering, Ford engineers were able to improve fuel-efficiency by as much as 20% without altering the horsepower and torque figures. There's also a new “high-efficiency” version of the 2.2L unit with 30 hp less, but is claimed to be 22% more economic at the pump.
Ian Foston, who happens to be the Ranger's Global Chief Program Engineer, also explained that they were able to fine-tune the new truck's suspension for added comfort. That usually involves altering the spring rates, dampers, and other suspension components, but we can't say for sure what they've done (except for the new electric power steering available in some models). What's important though is that the new Ranger should have better ride and handling, without sacrificing its off-road abilities and payload capacity.
But the upgrades don't just stop with the exterior, interior, and the engine bay. Ford has packed so much Driver Assist Technologies into the new Ranger that it can easily put a Volvo to shame. The list include safety features such as Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Impairment Monitor, and Forward Alert with Collision Mitigation just to name a few.
Making the Ranger Even Better
A vehicle's typical mid-cycle 'facelift' is just that, a facelift. But Ford wanted to stay on top of the pickup truck food chain so badly that they re-invented the Ranger. And what they ended up with is so far removed from the old truck that the new Ranger almost warrants to be called 'all-new'.
It's so good that even existing owners of now old(er) Ranger would want to buy one, which should help it retain its title as the best-selling pickup in the country. But you can't just yet, because it's not scheduled to arrive on Philippine soil 'til Q3 of 2015.