Ford’s updated Ranger pickup for 2016 has been officially unveiled this week, debuting at a global launch event in Thailand.
The new ‘face’ is complemented by a flat new bonnet with chiselled lines, but rear styling is virtually unchanged.
Australian specifications and pricing are still to be confirmed, but we can expect most, if not all, of the improved Ranger’s features to be available to local customers when the 2016 model arrives later this year.
Four engines will be available in various markets, matched with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
These including the 3.2 litre five-cylinder Duratorq diesel producing 147kW/470Nm and 2.2 litre four-cylinder Duratorq diesel making 118kW/385Nm (up 8kW and 10Nm) already familiar to Australian buyers.
A new ‘high-efficiency’ version of the 2.2 litre diesel unit has been introduced, which cuts power to 96kW but becomes the most efficient engine in the Ranger catalogue - 22 percent more efficient than the outgoing model.
The sole petrol-powered option - the 2.5 litre four-cylinder Duratec unit producing 122kW/225Nm - continues from the previous model.
The diesel engines now feature stop/start technology, electric power steering and a taller top gear for highway cruising, aiding varying improvements in efficiency.
Electronic power steering reduces fuel usage by three percent alone, and the lack of power steering pump combined with an upgraded sound-deadening package means the diesel Ranger is quieter on the inside than its predecessor.
The interior also gets a redesign for 2016, with the clean, simplistic layout dominated by the central eight-inch infotainment touchscreen.
A pair of TFT information displays feature in the instrument cluster, which now has a fully-digital appearance (except for the analogue speedometer) displaying engine, fuel information and more along with navigation instructions.
Ford calls it the “tougher, smarter and more efficient Ranger”, with features such as SYNC2 connectivity, lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control, driver impairment monitoring and front and rear parking sensors.
SYNC2 responds to ‘natural’ voice commands, such as “temperature 20 degrees”, “play AC/DC” or “I’m hungry”, according to Ford. Climate control, entertainment and navigation can also be controlled by voice.
The interior also features a 240-volt power outlet designed for laptops.
Suspension has been tuned for an improved ride, greater refinement and better handling, in what Ford calls its “fun-to-drive promise”.
Some Ranger variants get tyre-pressure monitoring, Ford’s Emergency Assist program and adaptive load control along with hill launch assist and hill decent control.
The updates haven’t robbed the Ranger of its off-roading ability, with the 2016 model boasting a maximum wading depth of 800mm and ground clearance of 230mm.
The Ranger’s on-the-fly 4WD system carries over with the update for 4WD models, as does low-range gearing and a locking rear differential.
The approach angle while tackling obstacles off-road is 28 degrees and the departure angle is 25.
Many customers will be relieved to learn that the Ranger’s 3500kg tow rating is unchanged for 2016.
“The new Ford Ranger brings a new level of comfort and refinement to its segment without compromising on the rugged capability that our customers demand,” Ford Asia Pacific’s Brett Wheatley said.
“It represents a smarter kind of tough, and will help our customers to achieve more, whether at work or with their families.”
The 2016 Ford Ranger is set to be rolled out through 180 markets worldwide as the year progresses.
Australian models will continue to be sourced from Thailand.
Ford Australia has confirmed that a local debut for the refreshed Ranger will occur sometime late in the third quarter of early fourth quarter of 2015.