The Return of the Ford Ranger

May 18th, 2015 by admin

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Rumors and speculation sometimes run rampant in the off-road industry and one rumor that’s been gaining a lot of traction is that the Ford Motor Company is going to bring back the plain, popular and versatile Ranger. The original truck has a loyal following and plenty of fans miss its signature compact qualities, accessibility and affordability.

Originally produced to compete with the likes of the Toyota pickup, Nissan Hardbody and the Chevy LUV truck, the Ranger ceased production in 2012. Since then, Ford has stressed its F-line and supersized trucks to the point that they’ve lost the Ranger’s back-to-basic, utilitarian essence with all-terrain tires and minimal bells and whistles.

In the late 1990s, Ford produced a separate Ranger model that sold overseas and caught on in Australia, Europe and the Middle East. In fact, a brand new international model was revealed at the recent 2015 Bangkok Motor Show in Thailand.

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Critics contend the market for midsize trucks has evaporated with the advent of full-size trucks supplying more than ample horsepower, good towing and hauling capabilities and decent gas efficiency for a reasonable price. Those arguing for the model’s return maintain there is still a market in North America for smaller, taskmaster, utilitarian trucks that is currently not being filled and the Ranger’s popular status with consumers hasn’t waned.

The challenge Ford faces is daunting because their plants that formerly produced Rangers no longer exist. Importing them from overseas is prohibitively expensive because of the chicken tax that places a 25% tariff on light trucks. The Chicken Tax began in 1963 during the Johnson administration, imposing a 25% tariff on food items and small trucks being imported into United States. These economic realities make the Ranger’s return a longshot at best.

Yet, some still hold out hope. Last year, a camouflaged test mule of the 2016 Ranger was spotted stateside. It differed from the Ranger sold globally, with a reconfigured front bumper, different grille and newly-designed headlights.

Would a new Ranger sport an aluminum body that Ford’s F-series is pioneering and would it have an EcoBoost option? Speculation is that Ford’s reluctance to start production hinges on the fact that the Ranger could cut into their own F-150 sales. Of course, the costs of re-launching production are another intimidating factor. Will Ford elect to produce a true compact Ranger that’s not bloated and remains accessible and affordable? Ford only knows.

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