Ford Motor Company revealed the Ford Edge ST, the Ranger truck and the Mustang Bullitt GT at Cobo Center during a Detroit Auto Show press event Sunday afternoon. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News


Ford Motor Co. pulled the curtain off the new 2019 Ranger, bringing the midsize pickup back to North America for the first time since 2011.

The Ranger, which will be shown Sunday afternoon at the Detroit auto show, won’t be available for another year. It will play catch-up to Chevy and GMC which have capitalized on a revived small-pickup market with their successful Colorado and Canyon models.

The all-new Ranger looks similar to the models the company has sold around the world for the last several years. Ford pulled the Ranger from the U.S. market seven years ago so the company could focus on its full-size F-Series pickup. Ford sold nearly 900,000 F-Series trucks last year.

The company is leaning on its reputation for trucks for the North American relaunch of a truck it once sold hundreds of thousands of. Ford designed the new model on the platform used in global production. Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, said the exterior, chassis and powertrain were redesigned for the U.S. market.

“Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing. “The all-new Ranger is designed for today’s midsize truck buyer, delivering even more utility, capability and technology for those who blend city living with more off-the-grid adventures on weekends.”

The company said at last year’s North American International Auto Show that there’s immense consumer demand for the truck. The Ford says the midsize-pickup market has grown by 83 percent since 2014.

Analysts have said Ford might cut into F-150 sales by releasing the Ranger in the U.S., but Ford executives have said F-150 shoppers are typically completely different from those who’d look to buy a Ranger.

Those marketing the vehicle said they’re hoping the Ranger hits a sweet spot between F-150 buyers, and people who were looking for a smaller Ford vehicle.

The truck will be available in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels with chrome or sport appearance options. The trucks will have SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations — which means the new Ranger will have an available four-door configuration. The truck will also have an FX4 Off-Road Package. There’s one engine option: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with which Ford engineers say they’re targeting best-in-class torque.

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Ford did not release fuel economy projections for the new vehicle. There will be both two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive options.

Unlike the F-Series, the Ranger is built using a mix of aluminum and steel. The truck has a steel frame and steel bumpers. The vehicle has an aluminum hood and tailgate. The truck was designed with an athletic look in mind, which truck buyers favor.

The Ranger nameplate is stamped across the tailgate. Ford also prioritized ground clearance for off-roading. The FX4 trim features off-road tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted heavy-gauge steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates and FX4 badging. That trim also comes with a terrain management system similar to that found in the F-150 Raptor.

The 2019 Ranger will come standard with autonomous emergency braking, and the XLT and Lariat trims will have standard adaptive cruise-control, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, land-keep assist, parking aid and lane-departure warning. There are numerous optional driver-assist features, too.

Sync3 is available on the vehicle, as well as available FordPass with a WiFi hotspot. The center stack includes an 8-inch touch-screen system.

Ford sold more than 6.6 million Rangers in the U.S. over its 29-year history. Sales peaked in 1999 at around 350,000 but dropped steadily until its final year in 2011, when Ford sold 70,832.

The truck will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. This year, it will replace the Focus and the C-Max there. Focus production will move to China. The C-Max will be discontinued once Michigan Assembly is retooled to make the Ranger and the 2020 Bronco.

The Ranger is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2019.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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