As the automotive world moves more and more toward global standardization, there have been a few holdouts that have soldiered on with few changes. One of those models, at least for North America, has been the Ford Ranger. While the same basic model has been in the U.S. for more than 10 years with evolutionary tweaks over the years, the overseas model has been a major player in its respective markets, in many ways mirroring the role the F-150 plays back in the heartland. As such, it has been updated several times in the time the home-market Ranger has been neglected.
It's as if Ford is rubbing it in the face of mini truck enthusiasts by introducing an all-new Ford Ranger at the Bangkok International Motor Show. The truck is a contemporary, handsome design with two strong turbodiesel engine options. For now, it's strictly for overseas markets, but with Ford's recently-announced "Way Forward" plan, and the associated worldwide consolidation and standardization, it's expected a version of this design will appear in North America at some point.
The one area that might be slightly different for the North American version is powertrains. The new Ranger was introduced with two diesel engines and a manual transmission. It's likely that one or more gasoline engine options as well as an automatic transmission will be added for the N.A. model. Perhaps a version of Ford's new Duratec 35 V-6 engine, and likely the 2.3-liter Mazda-built MZR will remain as the standard powerplant for base models. We can only hope that one of the diesels will meet U.S. smog standards. Check out the specs on the 3.0 liter: A respectable 156 horsepower, and a beefy 280 lb./ft. of grunt at only 1,800 rpm.
So why doesn't Ford just start importing them from Thailand? A little-known U.S. trade law that slaps a whopping 25-percent tariff on imported pickups makes that a bad business proposition. More likely, the basic tooling and production processes will be put into place in a North American factory. We like the looks of the new Ranger. Ford can't introduce it soon enough to the U.S. market, in our opinion.