Update: I am sticking this post to the front page for the next week to see how many signatures we can actually get. I’ve been told that for Ford to consider bringing the diesel Ranger here, the numbers would have to be “staggering.” So if you want this truck, comment on this post!
The fuel efficiency of trucks big and small hasn’t budged in 20 years. Ford is building a fuel-efficient diesel Ranger that can tow a train for the rest of the world, and we must convince them to bring it to America.
The Ford Ranger was first conceived in the mid-70’s, as Ford and the rest of the Big Three worked to improve fuel efficiency as mandated by the U.S. government. The Ranger was designed to be economical, but with similar versatility compared to full-size, V8 pickups.
Get this. When the Ford Ranger first debuted in 1983, it could be had with a diesel engine, and in 1985 a turbodiesel engine. A ’85 turbodiesel Ford Ranger with 2wd is rated by the EPA at 30 mpg (and once rated as high as 39 mpg highway before the new testing standards) and I’ve heard of people getting upwards of 45 mpg from gentle driving. That, my friends, was the high point, as oil prices eased and the diesel option was quietly discontinued. Since then, small truck fuel efficiency has been on a dramatic downward spiral.
The fact of the matter is, the Ford Ranger has not received a genuine update in almost 20 years, the last major “improvement” being the addition of the gutless, gas-guzzling 4.0 liter V6 engine (that was old even in the 90’s) as the top-end engine choice. Over the years, the Ford Ranger (like the F-150) has grown in size and weight without any serious improvements to the body or drivetrain. A 2011 Ford Ranger looks a lot like a 2000 Ford Ranger, which isn’t all that different from a 1994 Ford Ranger.
Sure, Ford toyed around with an EV Ranger, flex fuel, and even LPG models, but only because they had to. None of these models stuck around for long, and Ford has given the Ranger the same treatment it gave to the now-defunct Mercury brand. Offer the customers nothing new to differentiate it from other products in the lineup, and let sales of these aging vehicles slowly slide into oblivion. Then they have a great case for canceling the brand or model, and that’s exactly what happened, as the Ford Ranger is on the chopping block with no replacement in sight as Ford focuses on full-size trucks.
Unless I am mistaken, the Ranger the only vehicle left in Ford’s lineup with the abysmal 4.0 liter V6 engine and and so-old-it-should-be-dead 2.3 liter four-cylinder engine…which was first developed for the Ford Pinto. Both of these engines have roots dating back forty years ago.
Ford isn’t alone though. Both the Dodge Dakota and Chevy S10 offered awful gas mileage and meager towing/carrying capacities especially compared to the full-size trucks that were just a few thousand dollars more. As was the common theme during the early 2000’s, people bought more truck than they needed, and wound up with a 100 mile commute in a vehicle that gets, at best, 10 mpg at highway speeds. This is why the Big Three claim the small truck market has all but disappeared, and really, it’s their own doing as Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan followed Detroit into small truck irrelevance.
Ford has already built the savior of the small truck market though, and it’s the new global Ford Ranger. This diesel pickup being marketed and sold in all the Blue Oval’s other markets (188 other countries in total) except America. Ford claims it is because the new Ranger is only 10% smaller than the F-150, and it doesn’t sell the F-150 anywhere else in the world. So what? This new Ranger has two diesel engine options; a 2.2 liter four-cylinder with 276 ft-lbs of torque, and a 3.2 five-cylinder with 346 ft-lbs of torque. For those keeping score at home, the bigger diesel engine is nearly as powerful as Ford’s much-touted EcoBoost V6, but with one less cylinder and, in all likelihood, much better gas mileage. That’s enough torque to tow a train. Why can’t we have that?
Sorry Ford. I don’t need your EcoBoost F-150. It’s just too much truck for me, and quite frankly, 22 mpg on the highway ain’t that impressive, especially considering what you are offering the rest of the world.
I want torque. I want fuel efficiency. I want towing and versatility and four-wheel drive, which is what I thought I’d get in the Mahindra diesel pickup from India. At the very least, just give me a small diesel engine as an option in the F-150, and I’ll be one happy camper. Better yet, just bring the global Ranger to America. That’s the shot in the arm the small truck market needs. If it doesn’t sell well, you can always stop importing it, right? Give America the small diesel pickup we deserve, damnit.
If you agree with me, leave a comment down below, and get your friends to sign it too. This is a 1-in-1,000 shot here, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We have to show Ford, and the rest of the automakers, that there are people out there that want to buy a small, versatile, fuel efficient truck. Is that really so hard to believe?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.