Now with several news outlets and inside sources, like a UAW chief, confirming the Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco will make returns to the U.S. market, the next logical questions are what they will feature in terms of styling, features and power trains. Here is my guess on the 2020 Ford Ranger.
What Model Year?
Before I get into what it will be like, let’s first address the question of what the model year will be. My current guess is it will be a 2020 model with the following timeline:
- January 2018: Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
- Fall/Winter 2018: Production will stop at the Michigan Assembly Plant for the Ford C-Max and Focus. Production of those vehicles is moving to Mexico.
- Spring 2019: Michigan Assembly begins retooling and training of employees for Bronco and Ranger production.
- Summer 2019: Vehicle production begins with media drives to follow.
- August 2019: The 2020 slate of vehicles is launched and hits dealers which includes the Ranger and Bronco
This is of course, subject to change, however, when developing a product like this, companies like Ford set things in stone years in advance. Even if the market completely switches back to favoring cars again, Ford will still keep on course with this large investment.
2020 Ford Ranger Styling
The big question here for Ranger fans is will the truck literally be just a mini Ford F-150 or will Ford give it a distinctive styling?
Most diehard Ford fans will likely point to the Global Ford Ranger as an example of the kind of truck styling they want. It looks tough and would visually seem to be a great competitor to the off-road versions of the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO and soon to be revealed 2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
I would think, with the goal to get the vehicle to market sooner and based on the already designed parts for the Global Ford Ranger, this is a good bet with one caveat – the global Ranger is too large for Ford’s U.S. truck lineup. Then, the new truck will look similar to the Global Ford Ranger just smaller to not create a distinctive size difference between it and the Ford F-150.
Ford will also use aluminum for the body panels and it will feature a ladder on frame (truck frame). Also, the interior will be a carbon copy of the F-150.
2020 Ford Ranger – Diesel?
One of the big questions for Ford Ranger fans is if the truck will be offered with a diesel. Sure, the truck will get a slate of EcoBoost engine options including the small 2.7L and it will come with the latest 8-speed transmission (10-speed would be too many for the small truck and be a state of diminishing returns for the cost). Yet, what about a diesel?
First, let’s understand diesel engines get 25 percent better fuel economy out of the box and this helps offset the increase in price. For example, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with the 2.8L Duramax diesel is rated at 22/31 city/highway combined and is $3,905 over the base model. Also, keep in mind, Chevy only offers the diesel on the LT and Z71 Crew Cab models, with 2WD or 4WD. The LT starts at $33,045 and returns 17/24 city/highway in the base V6 engine.
Second, Ford will already offer a good fuel economy option in the 2.7L EcoBoost with an 8-speed transmission. Now, they are keen to keep up with the market, see the likely 2018 Ford F-150 diesel, yet it took them years to come around. IF Ford offers a diesel Ranger, it will be sometime after its launch.
Third, the Ford Ranger could be a low volume model (following current midsize truck sales trends) and may only hit 10-12k units a month compared to the estimated 54k half-ton trucks Ford sells each month (67k last month – 20% for Super Duty models). That projection is IF the midsize market expands and F-150 customers don’t diminish the larger trucks sales by opting for the midsize truck. The point here is if consumers opt for the Ranger over the F-150, Ford would put the money into developing a diesel to attract more consumers. However, if the reverse happens, Ford will hold onto their profit.
No matter how you slice it, I would wager one thing is true – no diesel when the Ford Ranger is announced. It will be sometime after if it comes with Ford analyzing their sales results.
While the details are still sketchy, we do know it is coming. Pricing will likely be inline with Chevrolet and be a few thousand difference between the fullsize and midsize trucks. The size differences will be apparent and the interiors will likely match. Really the only unknown at this point is if consumers will buy it. I think they will.