Can the 2019 Ranger Fend Off the Hot Honda Ridgeline?

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Ford Ranger

America’s thirst for midsize trucks has Ford scrambling to catch up with the competition. But is Ford too late? Our forum members sound off.

When Ford decided to quit selling the Ranger in North America just a few years back, they figured the F-150 would be enough to satisfy American truck buyers. Clearly, they were wrong. Even though today’s mid-size trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado are nearly as large as a full-size truck. So Ford headed back to the drawing board to ready the U.S. for the coming 2019 Ranger.

In the meantime, Americans aren’t exactly waiting for the Ranger to come back. Instead, they’re buying up existing competitor offerings as if they’re going to disappear as well. This is especially true with the Honda Ridgeline, which is selling like hotcakes. It’s selling so well, in fact, that Honda can’t keep up with demand. Their Alabama plant, which builds the Ridgeline, is already at full capacity.

Honda Ridgeline

Now, we know what you’re thinking: The Ridgeline isn’t really a truck, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. But its success tells us that a lot of people don’t want or need a highly capable midsize pickup. They just want something with more utility than your standard crossover or SUV. So it’s fair to wonder, is Ford too late to the party?

It’s a question we posed in the FTE forums and one that obviously drew some interesting responses. Many people, including longtime forum member my crib too, have seen firsthand the kind of viable threat the Ridgeline poses to the 2019 Ranger.

“We just rented a Honda CRV for the wife and they had hundreds of CRVs on the lot. This is a huge Honda dealer near my home. They had two Ridgelines on the lot. They cannot even get the highly optioned ones. I asked the boys at the dealership about the Ridgelines and they said that not only are they selling all of them, no discounts and lease prices are crazy high, according to the salespeople. It’s a real nice truck. I felt comfortable in it and thought it was a quality vehicle. In my opinion, Ford moving out of this segment was really a stupid move.

“The GM small truck is also really nice looking and selling very well. The new Ford is going to need to be a quality piece with lots of options at a very good price.”

Ford Ranger

When you put the numbers in perspective, however, it’s hard to believe that Ford won’t sell more Rangers. After all, Toyota unloaded 191,631 Tacomas last year. And Chevy moved 146,174 Colorados. The Ridgeline, despite its production woes, sold 40,000 units.

“Honda sold 40k Ridgelines in a year,” YoGeorge points out. That is not a serious number compared to the amount of Rangers Ford will aim to sell. The Ridgeline makes a lot of sense for the recreational market: people who need a “play” truck, or people who like the dependability that Honda legitimately delivers. This would extend to lighter commercial users. Here is more of what YoGeorge has to say:

“The Ranger will hopefully appeal more to tradesmen and businesses, and get enough of the recreational market that it should blow Honda’s numbers out of the water.  Toyota’s pickup numbers are very small compared to Ford’s, for instance. If Ford does a serious FX4 or mini-Raptor version, they will get even more of the recreational market that wants the off-road cred even if people never go off-road. (Most Jeep Wranglers parked in mall and high school parking lots despite their capabilities.)”

And many other folks, including NumberDummy, pointed out that the Ridgeline is more of a niche vehicle than the 2019 Ranger (and its competition).

“The first Ridgeline version (IMO: it was uglier than sin) sold OK for the first couple of years, then sales dropped like a stone, so many clogged dealers lots.

The new version looks much nicer, but despite the gap between the cab and bed, it’s still a unit body: Body and frame a one piece welded assembly.

No Ford pickup is a unit body (unless you include 1960/71 Rancheros). All have body on frame construction.”

Ford Ranger

When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to believe that Honda will pose much of a threat to the Ranger. If anything, Ford should find competition from the stalwart Colorado and Tacoma to be much more concerning. But it’s not like they haven’t continued developing the Ranger overseas all these years.

Still, we’d like to hear your opinion on the Ridgeline and the 2019 Ranger! So head on over here and chime in with your thoughts on whether or not the Honda’s popularity will have any kind of effect on Ford’s new mid-sizer.

Join the Ford Truck Enthusiasts forums now, FREE!

Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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