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2019 Ford Ranger Revealed: Return of the Badass Half-pint Pickup

by Micah Wright
2019 Ford Ranger Revealed: Return of the Badass Half-pint Pickupzoom in

Remember the step-side Splash edition of the Ford Ranger, with its bright yellow paint scheme and vibrant 90s era “splashed” decal accents? Yeah, forget that noise. None of that crap will be getting brought back on the reborn 2019 version of the pickup, and in their place buyers are sure to find a far more focused machine.

With the U.S. auto industry feasting heavily upon continued growth in the midsize pickup truck segment, Ford has decided to resurrect the extinct Ranger, officially revealing photos of the all-new generation to the world during the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Reportedly “torture-tested” in the same environments as its larger F-150 brother, the 2019 Ranger looks to corner GM’s Colorado/Canyon target market, while snubbing Toyota’s Tacoma and Honda’s Ridgeline. By focusing upon the F-150’s proven high-strength steel architecture smarts and utilizing the EcoBoost 2.3-liter motor out of the Mustang, along with a class-exclusive 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford has stepped up its game in a whole new way.

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Take the FX4 Off-Road model for instance. Outfitted with undercarriage covers, all-terrain tires, a re-calibrated suspension, and a specialized Terrain Management System that piggybacks upon a Trail Control tech system, the rugged life never looked easier. There also are things like heavy-duty steel front bash plates, frame-mounted skid plates, and Dana Trac-Lok differentials for even more grippy 4×4 flavor.

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While 2WD XL, mid-level XLT, and high-level Lariat trim lines also are made available in both Chrome and Sport appearance packages with SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations, the FX4 demands the most focus. The off-road truck’s unique Terrain Management System turns the mid-size pickup into an adolescent F-150 Raptor when it comes to traction, as normal, grass, gravel/snow, mud/rut, and sand settings rest ready for use at a moment’s notice. According to Ford, this system can also automatically adjust throttle responsiveness, transmission shifts, and vehicle control as well in order to provide intuitive traction in virtually any situation.

Ford has gone even further by equipping the 2019 Ranger with the badge’s all-new Trail Control technology, which just like adaptive cruise control takes over acceleration and braking by sending power and brake force to wheels independently from one another, leaving drivers free to focus upon steering and little else. With a standard electronic-locking rear differential on FX2 and FX4 models giving further cause to click from 2-high into 4-high and 4-low settings, the rugged side of The Blue Oval’s half-pint pickup look promising right out of the gate.

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Externally, optional LED headlamps and taillamps strike all four corners, along with puddle lamps, lighting along the cargo bed, and the RANGER name stamped into the tailgate. This truck also receives a rugged steel bumper with an available integrated trailer hitch receiver for easier towing, and when paired with Ford’s unique Smart Trailer Tow connector, drivers can receive alerts when a trailer connection is not working adequately or has become disconnected.

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Internally, the 2019 Ranger can seat up to five, sport an 8-inch touchscreen, dual LCD driver info displays, and a nice array of contrasting materials and colors. There also is an available SYNC 3 setup within the touchscreen, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Ford+Alexa personal assistant functionality, as well as optional navigation. Buyers can also opt for a 4G LTE modem in order to provide on-board Wi-Fi for up to ten devices, as well as additional AC power outlets, multiple USB outlets, and an upgraded B&O PLAY audio system.

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On the safety side, the 2019 Ranger relies heavily upon advanced driver-assist technologies like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Reverse Sensing, and a class-exclusive Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage. All of this can be had standard on XLT and Lariat trim levels, with additional standard safety features on Lariat models including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

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So while some may not care for the Ranger’s physical presence when compared to say the F-150, it’s the mechanical end of things that gives me pause. Thus far it is looking like Ford will only be offering the Ranger with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine right out of the gate, and although the direct-injected, twin-scroll turbocharged powerplant will likely provide ample amounts of pep and fuel efficiency, it will be interesting to see if Ford provides buyers with more powertrain options down the line when it goes into production toward the latter end of 2018.

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