The mid-sized Ford Ranger pickup that has been with us since 1983 will cease production in December of this year. What Ford billed as the first “mid-sized” pickup, the Ranger debuted in 1982 as a replacement for the Japanese built Ford Courier supplied by Mazda.
The Ranger has not been significantly redesigned for some 20 years, its current platform came in 1991. While various improvements like a larger 2.5 liter DOHC standard four-cylinder engine a more powerful 4.0 liter V6, and a facelift or two came along, the Ranger has not kept up with the times.
Production will end quietly with no replacement for the Ranger. A new global Ford Ranger made its debut last year for markets around the world including Asia, Europe and Australia. The all new Ranger will not be made available in North America however.
The reasons what once was the backbone of Ford’s entry level truck line is being disposed of is simple lack of sales. The compact truck segment was once vibrant, inhabited by all brand names from America and Japan.
But as the trucks gradually grew larger and more thirsty, they became little different from their full sized brethren. Today there is little price incentive to go with the few compact trucks on the market and little incentive in gas mileage.
The new 2011 Ford F-150 V6 can achieve 17/23 mpg and starts at $22,790. A 2011 Ford Ranger four-cylinder achieves 22/27 mpg and starts at $18,160. The F-150 has twice the room and capability for just a small bit more. Most buyers given the payments most often choose to go upward.
The new global Ford Ranger the rest of the world gets is even closer to the F-150 in size and price, thus Ford has said it will not be taking the time and effort to offer it here. Much of the Ranger’s current sales are to small business fleets who now see the new Ford Transit Connect as a viable if not more attractive option.
Chevrolet is however planning at current to bring their next generation Colorado to the US. The Dodge Dakota replacement is up in the air. Toyota and Nissan at current plan on keeping their compact truck lines, though they are paring them down to less variations in the future.
But as we see the Ranger head into the sunset, we can thank it’s 7 million produced for the existence of the Explorer SUV which has sold in legendary numbers. The Ranger first bore the Bronco II which was mechanically identical to the Ranger and shared most exterior and interior styling elements.
In the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s Ford began slowly moving the Explorer away from the Ranger, giving it more of its own styling and interior identity. By the 2000’s, the Explorer and Ranger were on different platforms all together and shared little if any parts at all. And now as we know, the Explorer is now a car-based crossover sharing the Ford Taurus mechanicals.
If you lust for a Ford Ranger puckup, the time to get one is near. December 22nd is the big day production ends.