2012 Ford Ranger: One Tough Tease

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Why The US Is Out Of The Loop
by Jason Giacchino

Logic may tell you that models from domestic manufacturers should be available to, well, the domestic market. But with manufacturing becoming a global venture, that simply isn’t always the case.  Take for example the 2012 Ford Ranger ““ a vehicle that, to many enthusiasts, is a long-standing staple of the US pickup truck scene that will no longer be sold in America.  

The Ranger brand has been sold primarily in North America from 1983 through 2011. So the lack of Rangers around these parts will certainly be a gaping hole. Perhaps the situation would be easier to swallow had Ford simply put the brand out to pasture. But the fact of the matter is that an international variation of the Ranger has been in existence since 1998 (originally a rebadged Mazda). And now a new generation global Ranger looks to drive on, even after the discontinuation of the domestic version.

Further adding salt to the wound is the fact that the new global Ranger is apparently one sick truck! For 2012, a 5th generation Ford Ranger, code named T6, was unveiled at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.  It’s the first-ever pickup to receive the maximum 5 Star Euro NCAP rating. She boasts best-in-class towing capability of over 7,300 pounds and water-wading capability of 800mm. The payload capacity goes up to nearly 3,000 pounds with a ground clearance of up to 232mm.  And the new Ranger is one of the most high-tech pickups on the market, featuring smart technologies such as Bluetooth1 with Voice Control and Rear View Camera system.

The new Ranger will be available in 4×2 and 4×4 with three engines, including two diesel options:

“¢    2.5L Duratec petrol engine (122kW & 226Nm) mated with 5-speed manual transmission
“¢    2.2L Duratorq diesel engine (88kW & 285Nm; 92kW & 330Nm or 110kW & 375Nm) consumes as little as 7.6 L/100 km (37.2 mpg) with choices of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission
“¢    3.2L Duratorq diesel engine (147kW & 470 Nm) at 8.4 L/100 km (33.6mpg) with choices of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission

As well as in three body styles that feature best-in-class leg room and knee clearance in the second row:

“¢    Double cab; cargo capacity of 1.21 cubic meters
“¢    Open cab/rear access panel; cargo capacity of 1.82 cubic meters
“¢    Single cab; cargo capacity of 1.82 cubic meters

And although this badass T6 Ranger will be offered in 180 markets, the United States and Canada are not on the hit list.

As to why the US and Canada are getting the proverbial shaft, the simplest answer relates to the reality that the T6 Ranger is a good deal larger than previous versions; so much so in fact, that it would overlap with portions of the F-150 line.  As we learned in marketing 101, competition is trouble for businesses, especially if it’s competition with one’s self.

Further complicating things is the fact that the compact truck segment is less than a quarter of the size it was just a decade ago (from one million per year down to about 230,000).  Ford says a lot of this stems from the fact that the interest for small pickups like the Ranger for use in company fleets has started to fade in favor of economy cars. (However, GM just recently announced they’ll be jumping back into the mid-size truck game by offering a new Chevrolet Colorado in the U.S.)

Additionally, American and Canadian safety and emissions standards, as well as the long-standing 25% import tariff imposed on non-American built light trucks, pretty much seals the deal on the T6 Ranger from ever being imported to North America.

However, Ranger aficionados shouldn’t give up all hope, as there is the very real possibility that an engine technology or manufacturing process will come along and change the game/ re-ignite the whole light trucks segment.  According to Doug Scott, of Ford marketing, “We have been and will likely keep looking at that segment, assessing whether it’s time to make that investment, but there are a lot of questions that have to get answered first.”

Does anyone else kind of wish the new Ranger wasn’t so awesome? Shout off in the Forums!

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