The 2019 Ford Ranger will be the most fuel-efficient midsize pickup on the market when it hits showrooms earlier next year.

Ford Motor Co. announced Tuesday the truck's standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission will get an EPA-estimated 23-miles-per-gallon of combined fuel economy, beating any competitor currently in the space.

"Midsize truck customers have been asking for a pickup that’s Built Ford Tough," said Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, in a statement. "And Ranger will deliver with durability, capability and fuel efficiency, while also providing in-city maneuverability and the freedom desired by many midsize pickup truck buyers to go off the grid."

The revived Ranger enters an increasingly competitive market in which automakers are clawing for proof points to differentiate their products. General Motors Co. has two vehicles in the space. Toyota Motor North American, Nissan Motor Co., and Honda North America all have one vehicle each competing in the midsize truck space.

The Ranger gets a combined EPA-estimated fuel economy better than all the competition for the 4x2 trucks. The 4x4 Ranger gets 22-miles-per-gallon combined, the same as the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. 

The 2011 4x2 Ranger with a 4-cylinder, 2.3-liter engine mated to a five-speed transmission got an EPA-estimated combined gas mileage of 20-miles-per-gallon.

Ford will also have to contend with the Jeep Gladiator midsize truck expected to launch in the first half of 2019. Pricing and fuel economy for that vehicle have yet to be released.

The 2019 Ranger will start at $25,395, including delivery charges. The Blue Oval's midsize pickup will top out close to $40,000 on the 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat with a 5-foot box. That's more expensive than the trucks currently in the market.

Ford officials have said the 2019 Ranger will be packed with technology. It's the first time Ford will sell the truck since 2011 — and a lot has changed. For one, combustion engines have gotten more fuel-efficient. 

The Range will launch with one engine option: the 270-horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost that can produce 310-lb.-feet of torque. The truck will come with standard automatic emergency-braking on all trim levels — the XL, XLT and top-level Lariat. Blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beams, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and parking aids are standard starting with the mid-level XLT. Customers can get systems to help handling in snow, rain, uneven terrain or sand on all three trim levels for added cost.

Ford began building the trucks at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne in October. The trucks will arrive at dealers in January.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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