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2018-01-05 08:30

Image: Headlightmag.com

Detroit - Could the future for Ford’s bakkie be more V6 engines?

Amidst the snow and chill of Lake Michigan, the North American International Auto Show, which opens on the 13th of January in Detroit, is a big deal for Ford. Headquartered in nearby Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, Ford is never shy of producing a show-stopper for the event. 

Traditionally, it’s either been a massive F-Series bakkie or enormous North-American market only SUV.

Occasionally a supercar, such as the Ford GT. But at the 2018 show, the vehicle which could attract the greatest interest, could be something completely unfamiliar to American showgoers, yet awfully familiar to South Africans: The Ranger. 

'Compact truck'

American consumers are finally demanding smaller, nimbler, bakkies in the United States, and considering Ford builds one of the best in the business, Ranger should be the perfect ‘compact truck’ for the world’s most important bakkie market. Since its launch in 2011, the T6 Ranger has not been available in North America. This year, that all changes – which means markets such as South Africa, will become affected by the renewed ‘compact truck’ focus in America.

Despite American buyers having nothing to compare Ranger to, it would be foolish of Ford to launch T6 Ranger in such a crucial market, if it didn’t feature some new bits. Hence the presence of facelift Rangers being tested in the Southern Hemisphere, where both Ford’s Ranger engineering and production resources are. 

Image: Headlightmag.com

Captured during validation testing Thailand, images reveal that the 2018 Ranger features a new hexagonal grille, with a ‘floating’ Ford roundel in the middle, frame by updated front LEDs and a reshaped front bumper. Around the back the taillights are all-new too. Suffice to say, this is close to exactly the bakkie which should be revealed soon in Detroit, and one which will become available globally in time. 

The return of Ranger to the US market is great news for Ford, which should boost its dominance of that market’s bakkie segment, but what does it mean for us? American buyers are demanding, and they purchase in sufficient volumes to radically alter engineering aims and equipment trends. Diesel is not the bakkie fuel of choice, especially for what the Americans consider a ‘compact truck’, Stateside. This could influence the potential future engineering direction for Ranger engines. 

Don’t expect the 2.2- or 3.2-litre turbodiesel engines to be available to American Ranger buyers. Instead, a combination of turbocharged 2.7- and 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost petrol engines will likely be the default options powering North American Rangers. Of specific interest here is the 2.7-litre engine, which is available in the monstrous F-150. 

Image: Headlightmag.com

Boosting to 242kW/508Nm, it would be a very compelling rival to the V6 Amarok and X-Class 350 d double-cabs, mounted in the comparatively light Ranger body. Not as a madcap Ranger Raptor (we know this will be a dedicated 2-litre twin-turbo diesel powered bakkie), but perhaps as a high-speed on-road cruiser with effortless towing ability.  

The T6 Ranger is finally coming home, to the market which appreciates and influences bakkie technology and trends more than any other. What the future for global Ranger markets such as Australia, Argentina, Thailand and South African will be as part of an Americanised ‘compact truck’ partnership is challenging to predict. But we suspect fewer diesel, and more petrol engines, could be the result.  

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