Designing a pickup truck may sound straightforward, as in “tall box + long box = pickup”, but in reality, the process is anything but simple. It takes a lot of skill and imagination to design a truck that would not only be superbly functional, but also emotionally attractive. That’s the challenge that faced Ford’s team when they had to come up with the interior and exterior design of the all-new Ranger.
Fortunately, Ford had decades of iconic pickup design to draw from. For instance, the designers looked back to the 2011 Ranger, one of the first trucks that became a worldwide hit. Ford designers wanted to elevate the truck from simple work truck to a vehicle that would be an attractive daily ride, even for leisure activities. The first Ranger to be built on Ford’s T6 platform, it boasted of a contemporary, aerodynamic design. According to Ford’s Exterior Design Manager Dave Dewitt, the 2011 Ranger “needed to be the punk rock kid brother of the Ford F-150,” Ford’s best-selling truck.
The Ranger thus had to look both tough and dynamic. Dewitt said, “We had a series of designs that were dynamic and sporty, others that were overtly truck-like and plenty that were a mixture of the two. Part of the process was all about working out what a truck should look like, so when we were doing this program, we worked through a lot of designs and a few market research events, so it was a planned and well-thought-out process where we considered all possible design ideas.”
To make sure the Ranger stayed true to the Built Ford Tough heritage, the pickup contained touches such as the horizontal grille. This gave it a design link to not just the F-150 but to Ford trucks going back to the 1930s.
Perhaps the most successful variant of the Ranger design-wise was the Ranger Wildtrack. The Wildtrack had been a limited-edition variant before the 2011 model year, and joined the Ranger family as a key variant. “The Wildtrak was responsible for the success of the Ranger in 2011 because it took Ranger in a direction that was previously unexplored. It took the truck into that lifestyle segment, and it gave people and out-of-the-showroom that they could get in without having to do any customization, it looked cool, and it was comfortable to drive,” Dewitt said.
Now that the Ford Ranger is ready for the next step in its evolution, the team is targeting to wow customers and enthusiasts with a bold, thoughtful design. Ford conducted extensive research in the process of making its next great pickup.
“We reimagined the Ranger from understanding and interpreting how our customers used their truck and what they expected from a pickup,” said Max Tran, chief designer for Ranger. “This journey started even before we put pen to paper with our first sketches. We were not just trying to create a good truck. We wanted to create an exceptional one that inspired owners every time they saw their Ranger in their driveway.”
Ford conducted more than 5,000 interviews and made more than 1,800 pages of field notes to closely examine how customers use their pickups and to find out what they wanted in their next one.
“Seeing owners use their trucks, whether for work, family or play, inspired some fantastic ideas that drove our design and development decisions,” said Tran. “One great example of that is the integrated box side-step. During our clinic sessions, we noticed that many customers had trouble reaching over the side of the truck into the bed.”
The all-new Ford Ranger features design cues like a gold grille with strong horizontal upper grille bar, C-clamp headlights, daytime running lights, pronounced wheel arches, and a large sculpted Ranger logo on the tailgate.
Inside, new Ranger will reportedly be stylish and spacious, with a premium, user-friendly feel. Case in point is the huge high-resolution touchscreen control mounted into the center stack, complementing the digital instrument cluster. The large touchscreen’s portrait orientation allows it to contain all the necessary controls and functions, such as navigation, climate, and entertainment.
Ford Ranger promises superb seats with new bolsters and foam inserts. The second row of the pickup will fold flat for more storage space. They will also integrate out-of-sight, secure under-seat storage.
“The next-gen Ranger really redefines the role of the pickup as a trusted partner for work, family and play,” said Gary Boes, Enterprise Product Line Management director, Global Trucks. “With the help of all the rich insights from customers, we’ve created a Ranger we believe will inspire owners to do more of what they love to do, with features that encourage them to explore new horizons.”