The long rumored and highly anticipated 2019 Ford Ranger pickup has finally arrived. Officially confirmed last year, the Ranger has had a convoluted path back to U.S. showrooms that has been well documented: Customers decried its demise in 2011, Ford denied its return for a couple of years, and then General Motors released its revised Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups and sold more than 145,000 units combined in 2016, the second year of production. It was right around then that the return of the Ranger began to be publicly discussed in earnest.
While the Ranger was MIA in the States, however, an international version was racking up big numbers elsewhere (Europe, New Zealand, and South Africa, in particular). That is where the domestic Ranger’s journey begins.
A fully boxed ladder frame with six crossmembers constitutes the backbone of the Ranger. Ford tells us that although the new truck’s frame appears to be a near doppelgänger of the frame of the overseas Ranger, a side-by-side inspection reveals that it has been configured specifically for stateside duty. Significantly for the domestic market, the frame has been modified to provide a sturdy mounting location for the front and rear steel bumpers. An integrated trailer-hitch receiver is available as an option.
Sitting atop the frame is a mostly steel body with an aluminum hood and tailgate. Comprehensively tweaked for tighter and more consistent panel gaps than in the global version, it sports a refreshed fascia and lighting elements. Short overhangs front and rear were specified to ensure good approach and departure angles. Monotube dampers reside at all four corners, with a control-arm front suspension and a live-axle setup at the rear.
Ford is keeping things simple in the powertrain department, offering a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four mated to a 10-speed automatic as the sole powertrain. Featuring a forged crankshaft and connecting rods and a double-roller timing chain, the aluminum 2.3-liter has been beefed up for truck duty. While Ford hasn’t yet revealed any output figures, it’s no secret that the Ranger’s 2.3-liter is closely related to the 280-hp 2.3-liter in the current Explorer and a shirttail relative to the 310-hp version that lives under the hood of the Mustang. Based on that, we figure it will land at somewhere around 300 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque in the Ranger.
The 10-speed automatic transmission employs essentially the same…