Ford Considering Unibody Ranger Replacement?


rangerWe’ve made no qualms about our disappointment with Ford and its unwillingness to replace the Ranger, a mid-size pickup that was one of the few alternatives to a full-size truck. Ford has insisted that consumers would rather have a full-size truck, but rumor has it that the Blue Oval might be considering a car-based, unibody pickup to replace the hole left by the Ranger.

Production of the Ford Ranger ended in December of 2011, bringing to a close an era of the mid-size American pickup. Sure there are still other contenders, including the Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier, but the Ranger was the undisputed king. Ford reasoned that the overlap in price, size, and fuel economy meant there wasn’t a business case for the Ranger, but grumblings among consumers have not been quelled. To date, one of our most popular posts ever is a petition to get Ford to bring their global Ranger to the U.S.

Ford is finally starting to realize that there is a real demand for a true “compact” pickup that is affordable, fuel efficient, and capable. To wit, Ford may be planning a unibody pickup, most likely based on one of Ford’s global chassis architectures. Such a vehicle would have a payload of around 1,000 pounds, a towing capacity of 3,000 pounds, and could even be front-wheel drive. Wrap your mind around that.

As a consumer in the market for a fuel efficient-yet-effective vehicle, this writer’s heart lights up with joy at the prospect of such a vehicle. Stick the 1.6 liter or 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine in there, and you could easily have a 30 mpg pickup with versatility to match. Of course, Ford could do what GM is doing, and just import their diesel-powered pickup from abroad…but we won’t hold our breath for that.

Does the idea of a fuel efficient, car-based Ford Ranger appeal to you? Or would you rather have a more traditional body-on-frame setup, even if it meant sacrificing fuel economy?

Source: Car & Driver

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Or the Ford fusion/C-max hybrid powertrain but that would probably make it cost too much

    • Jason Carpp

      If one wants a hybrid car, at least that’s available.

  • Jason Carpp

    If a Ranger replacement becomes available, the only engine(s) that’ll probably be available are the Ecoboost engine. Whatever the hell they mean by Ecoboost? What bothers me is that Ford says that there’s “no business case for a compact pickup truck.” I disagree totally with that statement. Not everyone needs a big, hulking monster of a truck like the F150. If you do need an F series truck, excellent! But what about those who need, or want a smaller truck? And how about offering that small truck with the option of a diesel engine if we need it?

  • Wolfpak765

    Doesn’t sound like a Ranger to me. Sounds like an El Camino or El Rancho or whatever they were called. Interest = zero

  • Jerryt1960

    I would love a pick up that got 30 mpg, I would love a small pick like Toyota and Nissan produced. The 95 Nissan hardbody and the Toyota 4 cylinder. Not everyone needs a huge gas sucking truck. Don’t get me wrong a big truck is nice if you REALLY require one. Today with gas so high I am sure alot of people want a gas saving pick up that they can use as a pick up every once in a while. But a vehicle that is easy on gas easy to park and just maybe less expensive than a full size truck. You know the market segment that has been forgotten but now has a lot of consumers waiting to be satisfied,Come on Ford, Bring it !!!! I know you can build a high quality gas saving small low end pick up, it has been done before. 

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree with what you’re saying. I would also like to see a compact truck with a diesel engine available as an option for those who need it. Diesel may not be for everyone, and with the cost of diesel being more than that of gasoline, it may be even bought by less people. But so what? I’m sure there’s a niche somewhere for a small truck with a diesel. It’s been done before.

    • Drew K Simmons

      Google a Subaru Baja turbo. May wanna dig one up man.

  • argusd

    Ford has been making such a vehicle for years in Brazil and South Africa — the Courier.  Not the rebadged Mazda pickup from the -70s, but the car-based ute/bakkie sold in Latin America.
    They are all over Baja California, and someone was driving one around here in Seattle a couple of years ago, with Mexican tags.  Looked very sensible and useful to me; I cannot understand why Ford wouldn’t bring it to the States.  

  • argusd

    . . . not to mention Ford Australia’s Falcon Ute:

    • Johnmangos

      The Falcon ute is unbelievable.
      Also check out the 310kw F6 version from Ford Performance Vehicles in Australia. Get some over here now!

  • bill b

    I think ford stole my idea, I have been wishing for a front wheel drive unitized body for years. I have owned three rangers over the years and thought that the best way to improve traction is to go with front wheel drive, and to improve milage a unitized body. A perfect vehicle to base a new ranger on would be the transit connect.

    • Christopher DeMorro

      @ bill b

      Ford has actually been building car-based trucks for years…in Australia. That said, they’re still RWD, and called Utes…but I’d still take one or two.

    • Drew K Simmons

      or an awd setup similar to whats in the escape awd or fusion awd. that’d solve any type traction issues for sure, handle better too.

      • Jason Carpp

        Or how about something similar to that of a Subaru Baja? Perhaps with a Boxer Diesel engine? I’d test drive it in a heartbeat if such an engine were offered. I’ve always liked diesel engines for their low end torque. Subaru’s Boxer Diesel, the last time I checked, delivered 150 bhp and 265 ft-lbs. of torque. That’s enough to tow a small travel trailer if one wanted.

  • Dr Louis Choquette

    The idea of a FWD pickup just doesn’t make sense if one plans on using their truck to do any sizable hauling. One really should have some sort of RWD because the traction increases as the load in the truck bed increases. A FWD pickup is just the opposite – as the bed load increases, the front wheel drive traction is decreased. Think of a teeter-totter.

    As a side note, moving from a body-on-frame to unibody construction does NOT increase the MPG. GM discovered that when redesigning the 2014/2015 Colorado and Canyon.

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. I wouldn’t mind a unibody truck, but front wheel drive? Absolutely not!

  • e ray

    I can get close to 30 mpg right now with my ’96 4-cyl Ranger. I thought it was pretty underpowered when I bought it but have gotten used to it now. The only thing that would make it perfect would be a cramped rear seat, like found in the Mustang–it only has an extended cab which includes jump seats, which are not suitable for putting my kids’ car seats back there.

  • James Guthrie

    build it already!

  • Drew K Simmons

    Subaru Baja :p Funny how the big 3 still have yet to figure out that formula… I have a 4 door AWD truck that gets 27mpg average and will run circles around a Tacoma, loves going down trails, is easy to work on, rides like a car and handles like a sports car. Oh, and it has a sunroof. When our guys figure that formula out, then I may consider… otherwise I’ll run this one till the wheels fall off…which for a Subaru may take a good while.