Would You Make this One Sacrifice for a Smaller Ford Ranger?

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Ranger Raptor

The same complaint that I hear about the current state of midsize trucks is the same complaint that I hear about the state of full-size trucks. For many of you, they are just too big and they keep getting bigger. Competition like the Chevrolet Colorado is nearly the same size as a Silverado 1500 was not that long ago. With the new Ranger, many of you want to see a smaller truck that still has some decent capability. But what sacrifices would you make for it? Would you consider a unibody Ranger?

Like Obi Wan, I can sense a great disturbance in all of you, as if you are all screaming out in terror all at once. But unibody doesn’t have to be a bad word, especially anymore. Honda does it with their Ridgeline, and if Hyundai brings the Santa Cruz to market it’ll also be unibody.


The Honda Ridgeline has 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. While that’s nowhere near the 7,600 pounds of the Colorado diesel, it’s still plenty to pull a boat, ATVs, a lawn mower, or whatever else you’d use a small pickup truck for.

To also save size, the truck would have a longitudinally-mounted engine, but that’s okay too because there’s still an all-wheel drive system shunting power to all four wheels. Advanced torque vectoring and intelligent stability control can also turn a unibody truck into a capable off-roader. Just look at the Jeep Cherokee or Renegade in Trailhawk trim. After driving them, most people are impressed with the capability even though it’s not a body-on-frame Wrangler.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Ford wouldn’t have to go the wimpy route either with a unibody Ranger. They could still drop in the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 as a top-end engine, which we also would assume would raise the overall towing capacity higher. Also, a longitudinal mount might also make Ford’s EcoBlue 2.0L diesel a better fit and option for the truck.

The only real issue facing a unibody midsize truck is the preconception that a unibody truck is bad. While granted, a unibody truck can’t be made to tow 30,000 pounds there’s no reason why a small, unibody pickup truck wouldn’t do well. There’s also no reason that Ford couldn’t make one of those trucks and do well.

The benefits would be huge. You’d all get the smaller size pickup truck that you really, really want. There’d be better fuel economy. The truck would ride really nice; almost like a car. And the best thing, it would be a lot cheaper — at least to start — than the midsize pickup trucks that are on sale. I can’t see a single reason why a basic, unibody Ranger couldn’t start at $19,999 for a front-wheel drive version.

All we’d have to do is get past the mental block that unibody is a bad thing. While Honda won’t be the sales leader with the Ridgeline, it does show that a capable unibody truck can happen. Now if only a proper truck maker, like Ford, got ahold of the platform they could do great things.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and comments over in our forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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