Will We See a New Ford Ranger at the Chicago Auto Show?

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Next month begins with the second major auto show in the United States and takes place in Chicago. The Chicago Auto Show is considered the largest show in the country that’s actually attended by consumers, and is a consumer-focused show. This show is typically dominated by trucks and utilities. Does that mean that this upcoming Chicago show is when we’ll see the concept for the next-generation, U.S.-built and sold Ford Ranger?

We believe strongly that a new Ford Ranger is coming. If you’ve been sleeping under a rock, let us catch you up. Last year, Ford decided that it was going to move production of the Ford Focus and C-Max from the assembly plant in Michigan to Mexico. As part of the agreement with the UAW, all of Ford’s car production is moving south, while all truck production remains in the United States (except for the Mustang, of course).

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Ford also said, when they made the announcement about shifting Focus and C-Max production to Mexico, that nobody would lose their jobs at the Michigan Assembly complex.

The only way for Ford to keep that plant open is to construct a vehicle there, and since all cars are going to Mexico, that means it has to be a truck or a utility. That means that it’s mostly slated to be the production home of the next-generation Ford Ranger.

If that Ford Ranger is indeed built in Michigan, it’s also extremely likely that that truck would go on sale to compete against the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier. Midsize pickup trucks are extremely hot right now, and we find it logical for Ford to get in on that action.

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The prevailing thought is that the new Ranger (and maybe even a new Bronco) will be on sale for the 2018 model year. That timeline fits with the production changeover at the Michigan plant.

For a 2018 model year vehicle to get some buzz, it would need to have a concept shown sometime in 2015. Ford has a history of showing us a concept two years before the production. Just look at the 2017 Raptor, for example. We saw the production concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, but it won’t go on sale until later this year as a 2017 model.

Since Chicago is a truck show, it’d make sense to show the new Ranger at this upcoming show, if we are, indeed, getting a new Ranger.

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If I were Ford, and I had a new Ranger and Bronco in the pipeline, I would announce them at separate shows. I’d pick the Chicago Auto Show for the Ranger concept. That truck is going to be the more popular seller of the two, since businesses are likely to buy them up, so it’d make sense to show it first and get people excited.

Then, at the New York International Auto Show I’d show off the Bronco concept. That vehicle could have show-stealing potential, and it’s the last major show before the summer months.

I wouldn’t wait until the Los Angeles show in November, as I’d think that’d be too late in the year.

What do you think? Is the new Ranger coming in Chicago, or are we going to have to wait? Let us know over in the forums!

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

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