SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - February 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 62 of 81

Return Of The Ranger A First Look At The 2019 Ford Ranger Pickup By Janaise Sanchez First produced in 1983, the Ford Ranger has been a popular mid-size truck for off-road enthusiasts for nearly 30 years. Even though Ford stopped the truck’s production in 2012, the Ranger pickup is making a comeback. The 2019 model will be the first time the truck has appeared in the North American market in over seven years. While the Ranger has been away, the U.S. mid-sized truck market landscape has changed considerably, with the Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon making big waves with off-road enthusiasts. Ford engineers, however, are confident the new Ford Ranger is up for the challenge and it’s bringing midsize truck fans a new choice that’s packed with driver-assist technologies to make driving easier both on and off-road. According to preliminary reports from the Ford Motor Company, the Ranger will be available in entry-level XL, mid-level XLT and high-level Lariat trim series in both Chrome and Sport appearance packages. For SCORE fans, the Ranger will also be available in an FX4 Off-Road package. Trim and accessories aside, the truck will also be available in SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations, offering truck owners more versatility and capability for more passengers and cargo. With tough competition, the 2019 Ranger makes its appearance with a high-strength steel frame and frame-mounted steel front and rear bumpers. Ford engineers claim the truck has been designed and tested through the same rigorous methods as the larger F-150 but is not just a smaller version of its full-size sibling. Visually, the Ranger has a muscular body featuring a high belt line, meant to accentuate durability and power, and a raked grille and windshield that gives it a sleek and athletic appearance that is also designed to provide excellent aerodynamics and reduce wind noise. In the rear, the Ranger’s tailgate is constructed to handle people and cargo while a rugged steel bumper, with an available integrated trailer hitch receiver, helps make towing campers, ATVs or watercraft easier to manage. The Ranger’s interior has room for five and has a variety of compartments and storage for additional gear and accessories. Included is an eight-inch touch screen with an available SYNC® 3 system that’s incorporated in the center stack and an instrument cluster that features dual LCD productivity screens providing real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information. Under the Ranger’s twin-power dome hood lies a 2.3-liter, 16-valve EcoBoost, four-cylinder engine that features a direct fuel injection system that feeds twin-scroll turbochargers. The engine is built to be tough, with a forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams. At this point in the Ranger’s reveal, no horsepower or torque specifications have been given for the engine, however, considering current specs on this engine in the Mustang are rated at 310 hp and 320 lbs.-ft. of torque, expect the 2019 Ranger to be in a higher power category than its current competition. The drivetrain is Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission which will give the Ranger optimum fuel economy performance to match its muscle. For SCORE fans and off-road enthusiasts, the Ranger looks to be a mid-size truck that will be affordable, rugged, and maneuverable with “more ground clearance,” according to Ford engineers. They state that the FX4 off-road package will give the truck greater capability to climb over obstacles and greater trail capabilities. The truck’s suspension will include off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, (no mention of brand or specifications yet), and will include a frame-mounted skid-plates made from heavy-gauge steel for the front and under the frame. Analogous to the F-150 Raptor’s driving experience, the Ranger’s FX4 Off-Road Package features an innovative Terrain Management System™ that includes four distinct drive modes consisting of; normal, grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, and sand. The company wants to give Ranger owners a great all-terrain driving experience with an active system that automatically shifts to quickly change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing and vehicle controls to tailor traction, driveability, and performance under any given terrain or weather condition. The FX4 Off-Road Package also features Ford’s all-new Trail Control™ technology. It essentially acts like cruise control for the highway but is designed for low-speed, rugged terrain. While that’s great for rock crawling, desert off-roaders want improved high-speed capabilities too. Nevertheless, Trail Control is designed to send power and braking to each individual wheel, allowing drivers to focus on steering along the path, virtually taking control over the acceleration and braking for the driver under those conditions. Power is distributed through a Dana® AdvanTEK® independent front axle, and a solid rear axle on both 2WD and 4WD models. An available electronic-locking rear axle is an option, (standard on FX2 and FX4) for increased all-terrain traction. Additional features for the 2019 Ranger include smart driver-assist as well as passenger convenience and connectivity technologies as standard fare on XLT and Lariat models. These include Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, a Reverse Sensing System and Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage. Supplementary driver-assist technologies are standard on Lariat models and include Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control. Available as an option are SYNC® 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Ford+Alexa personal assistant functionality, and navigation. A FordPass™ Connect 4G LTE modem is also available as an option to provide Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices and all Ranger models feature readily available AC power outlets to allow for the charging of laptops and USB powered devices. More options will include an available Bang & Olufsen (B&O) PLAY premium audio that is specially tuned for the Ranger cab to deliver a high quality and complaisant sound experience. If that’s not enough, customers have the option to include LED headlamps and taillamps, or optional exterior lighting which comes with puddle lamps and lighting for the cargo bed. Ford’s available Smart Trailer Tow connector is another option on the Ranger, that alerts drivers to faulty trailer connections. The Ranger is definitely one of the most exciting new trucks that SCORE fans can’t wait to try and adapt to more challenging Baja terrain. Fortunately, they won’t have too much longer to wait, as production begins late this year at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. As a new generation of midsize truck buyers seeks more maneuverable, fuel-efficient models, it won’t be too long before we begin seeing this mid-sized truck take on desert terrain and prove its capabilities. SJ

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