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Ford Ranger revisions run deep, but still secret

Drip feed: Ford has revealed some technical details for the updated Ranger ute, but is keeping quiet on fuel economy figures and other mechanical data.

Major development of Ford Ranger apparent with upgrade but key details still missing

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Ford logo24 Mar 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FORD Motor Company is continuing to hold back on full engineering and specification details of the extensively upgraded Australian-developed Ranger utility, despite the vehicle’s global unveiling in Thailand this week.

Arguably the Blue Oval brand’s most important vehicle release of 2015, the PX Series II Ranger was shown at a special event on the eve of the Bangkok International Motor Show.

While the new light truck’s refreshed exterior, redesigned interior, engine outputs, efficiency gains, driver-assist technologies and multimedia updates were all highlighted, detailed information is still being kept under wraps and the vehicle shown was only in high-series Australian-market XLT guise.

Other popular variants such as the Wildtrak are to be shown closer to the Ranger’s Australian debut in late July.

Ford Motor Company executives refused to answer specifics about the new Ranger’s performance, fuel economy, transmission, suspension and weight “until a later date”.

Furthermore, questions about the short-wheelbase prototype and other new variants revealed exclusively by GoAuto last week were also sidestepped, along with Ford Australia’s continuing role in the development of future generation models, the possibility of more aluminium-intensive vehicles to match the North American-market F-Series truck, and the likelihood of hybrid powertrains.

According to Ford’s vehicle line director for Ranger and Everest, Richard Tilley, many facts about the facelifted truck remain a secret. All he would say on the matter was: “It is not something we can discuss today.”

It is, however, now apparent that a larger-than-expected degree of work has been undertaken to help ensure the vehicle maintains its popularity as new-generation models from rival brands, including Toyota (HiLux), Mitsubishi (Triton) and Nissan (Navara), reach the marketplace this year.

Work on the facelift started almost immediately after the current PX version was unveiled in Sydney in October 2010, with the majority of it carried out at Ford Australia headquarters in Broadmeadows and at nearby Geelong and the You Yangs proving ground.

“A lot of design and development was spread around the region, but the heart of the engineering centre is in Australia and it spreads out from there,” Mr Tilley said. “Evaluations were also done in various locations in Europe and North America as well as South Africa. It is literally a global project led from Asia-Pacific.

“Our goal was to freshen the image of the car, give it a new appearance, to introduce some new technology and bring the safe and smart features to the product,” he said. “We wanted to pack in as much as we can, while keeping it relevant, while building on the strengths of the Ranger.”

While most variants of the facelifted truck will receive economy and refinement-enhancing electric power steering, the most basic versions could retain the hydraulic system currently servicing the vehicle.

Additionally, the fuel-saving automatic engine idle-stop system is only available on diesels with a manual transmission, meaning the vast chunk of the “up to 22 per cent” fuel consumption savings do not pertain to the most popular variants of the Ranger.

And speaking of the manual, it appears that the notchy gearshift that has blighted the PX since launch may switch to a different cable-operated device to improve its quality.

Ford also admitted it did not consider matching the upcoming Nissan D23 Navara’s segment-first coil spring rear suspension system available on upmarket dual-cab versions.

“This truck is on leaf springs, and we are very happy with what we’ve achieved, delivering what the customer needs and what the customer expects,” said Ford’s global chief program engineer for Ranger and Everest, Ian Foston.

“We’re enhancing what we had and making it better. It fits customers’ expectations with what they need … delivering that at a good price point that fits the market perfectly.”

There was also no word on the changes – if any – earmarked for the Ranger’s Mazda BT-50 fraternal twin.

“This development is specifically around the Ranger,” Mr Foston said.

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All future models

Ranger pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.