While its rivals have either maintained a presence or re-entered into the small truck market in the U.S., Ford has been out of the game for several years, without plans to re-introduce its Ranger pickup until 2018 or later.
Fans of the Ranger therefore must either turn to the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, or the Toyota Tacoma to get their light truck fix. Fortunately, Ford's Performance Communications Manager, Paul Seredynski, has hinted that, when the Ranger does return to the states, it might come with a performance variant.
Specifically, Mr. Seredynski said a Raptor Ranger is a "fascinating idea" and could likely fit within the 12 promised Ford performance models that will debut over the next four years. Among those, the redesigned F-150 Raptor already has a strong fan base. A Raptor Ranger would also have immediate competition from Toyota's Tacoma TRD, which could mature into a full-blown sport truck between now and the end of the decade.
It's certainly a great concept: near the potential of the F-150 Raptor with the maneuverability of a smaller truck. However, Ford Performance chief engineer Tyrone Johnson noted, "everything we do has to have a solid business case" as the company isn't interested in models that lose money." Of course, there are very few vehicles that are ever put on sale where the automaker knows it will lose money.
If a business case can be made for a performance iteration of the Ranger, it will likely be built in Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant a year or so after the regular Ranger is offered.
It hasn't yet been confirmed, but Dodge may also reintroduce its Dakota small truck -- which itself might borrow the "Rebel" performance badge from its larger sibling. Who knows, in five years' time there may be several performance trucks of all shapes and sizes to choose from (and with a range of traditional and hybridized powertrains).
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