Detroit Auto Show: The 2019 Ford Ranger is a high tech little truck

The Ranger has returned.

After putting its F-Series Jr. on hiatus amid slowing sales in 2011, Ford is reentering the revived small pickup segment with a new truck based on one it’s been offering overseas in the years since.

The 2019 Ranger remains a traditional body-on-frame pickup design.

The 2019 Ranger remains a traditional body-on-frame pickup design. (Ford)

Fully reengineered for the United States, Ranger will be built in Michigan with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. Power and fuel economy haven’t been revealed, but Ford trucks marketing chief Todd Eckert says it’s targeting a best-in-class torque rating among gasoline engines. A version of the 2.3-liter turbo that’s currently used in the Ford Explorer is rated at 280 hp and 310 lb-ft.

Steel bumpers are standard and the tailgate is strong enough to sit on.

Steel bumpers are standard and the tailgate is strong enough to sit on. (Ford)

The Ranger retains body-on-frame construction and has standard steel bumpers, a solid rear axle and Dana differentials. A lineup of SuperCab and SuperCrew models will be offered in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels.

An electronic Terrain Management System adjusts the drivetrain to any type of surface or condition.

An electronic Terrain Management System adjusts the drivetrain to any type of surface or condition. (Ford)

A locking rear differential will be available on trucks fitted with the FX2 and FX4 off-road packages, with the later also equipped with a Terrain Management System with drivetrain and traction control settings optimized for various surfaces, and a Trail Control low speed cruise control for off-roading that’s similar to the Toyota Tacoma’s Crawl Control feature.

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Ford didn’t skimp on the on-road tech, either. The features list includes automatic emergency brakes, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a blind spot warning system that takes a trailer into account.

Ford+Alexa provides a personal assistant in the truck.

Ford+Alexa provides a personal assistant in the truck. (Ford)

The latest version of Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is optional, and comes with built-in WiFi and Ford+Alexa personal assistant, which can take notes, play music and interact with Google Home-compatible appliances.

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If the new Ranger sounds like it’s worth the wait to you, that’s good. Because you’ll have to wait a little longer. Production is scheduled to begin at the end of the year, but the first trucks won’t hit showrooms until early 2019.

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