Ford Ranger debuts in Detroit

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Not to be upstaged, Ford is now officially back in the midsize truck game with the 2019 Ranger pickup.

Turns out seven years was as long as Ford could go without trying to assert its truck leadership image in every possible sub-segment, and get the Ranger back on the USA market. While it only looks slightly different from the global Ranger that's been on sale outside North America for years and is the best-selling pickup in Europe, there are some differences. That is not the case.

The 2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak, a double cab in a league of its own.

It's a real truck.

The truck sits on a high-strength steel frame with frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers; the rear bumper has an integrated trailer hitch receiver. The suspension ought to provide a competent ride, thanks to monotube dampers in all four corners and a short-long arm front suspension design. Power steering will be electronically-assisted.

Ford will offer the Ranger here in Super Cab and Super Crew body styles. Metal trim pieces over the wheel wells can be color matched or accented with a handsome magnetic grey color. "This customer is less work intensive than the F-Series customer".

"Ford is bringing back the Ranger at the ideal time", said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.

The traditional argument against mid-size pickups is that they're not much cheaper than fullsize trucks, which offer more capability. Ford was expected to hold a press conference Sunday afternoon.

If you've spent any time outside the US or Canada in the last decade, you've likely seen a new Ranger - it's the best-selling pickup in Europe. After an eight-year absence from the US market, Ford decided last year that it could no longer ignore a mid-size pickup segment that was attracting a half million buyers annually.

Two and four-wheel drive versions of the returning Ranger will be available-a truck that, by the way, has been continuously sold outside of the US since 1998-all with Ford's new ten-speed automatic transmission developed with Chevy. The crank and rods are forged steel. The new Selectshift 10-speed automatic is standard. Every four-wheel drive Ranger also includes 2-high, 4-high, and 4-low.

Both 2WD and 4WD models will have Dana locking differentials, with an electronic locking rear diff available (standard on FX2 and FX4 Off-Road variants). It sends power and braking to each individual wheel to help the FX Off-Road Ranger crawl over surface when things get technical. Mud/ruts carries with it the throttle numbing, while also throwing the drivetrain into 4-Hi for truck stuff.

This package includes Ford's Terrain Management System, which is similar to what's found in the F-150 Raptor. Think of this as cruise-control blended with a hill-descent control system.

In addition, the FX4 also gets Ford's brand-new Trail Control system, which allows the driver to set a speed between 1 and 20 miles per hour that the truck will automatically maintain on the trail, taking care of the throttle and braking on its own. Where it differs from a cruise control is that pressing the brake while it's activated doesn't deactivate it but rather, brings the cruise speed down to whatever the driver slows to.

Ranger will arrive early next year in three trims: XL, XLT and Lariat.

This pickup will also be safer than your old truck with standard emergency braking across the lineup and standard (on XLT and above) lane keeping, lane departure warning, reverse sensing system and blind spot information. To protect precious Kayaks and mini Airstreams, drivers need only go into the instrument cluster and manually input the length of their trailer (33 feet tops) the first time they hook it up. Whether or not there's a major improvement over the fuel mileage of EcoBoost- and diesel-powered aluminum F-150s, the new Ranger provides an easier entry point for-Ford hopes-younger buyers. Horizontal elements within the dashboard help to accentuate the width of the interior. The second row in the SuperCrew also features underseat storage that's waterproof. A locking rear differential and a new fully boxed frame will be unique to the North American model.

Ford will build the new '19 Ranger beginning early next year, famously, at its Michigan Assembly Plant in the City of Wayne, where it now produces the Focus and C-Max.