Having overhauled its pickups and most of its crossovers and SUVs in the past couple of years, the Ford brand enters a relative lull until 2018. From that point through 2020, a flurry of new and redesigned products is on tap, including the return of the Ranger and Bronco. Ford also has big plans for hybrids and plug-in cars, spending $4.5 billion to introduce 13 electrified vehicles by the end of the decade.
F-150: Two years after its aluminum-bodied redesign, the F-150 gets Ford's new 10-speed transmission, developed with General Motors, this fall. It will first appear in the high-performance F-150 Raptor, an off-road beast that delivers more power with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 than the previous generation's 6.2-liter V-8. More updates to the F-150, likely including modified front and rear fascias as well as a diesel powertrain option, follow in 2017. CEO Mark Fields has confirmed plans for a hybrid F-150 by the end of the decade. Ford may roll out the next-generation F-150 as soon as 2020.
F-series Super Duty: After a $1.3 billion renovation of its Kentucky Truck Plant, Ford is introducing an aluminum-bodied F-series Super Duty this fall. It's only about 350 pounds lighter than the outgoing version -- vs. the 700 pounds shed by the F-150 -- because Ford used much of the weight savings to make the truck stronger. The Super Duty, available with a 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine or the second generation of Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel, claims best-in-class towing, payload and torque.
Ranger: Ford is eager to give GM a run for its money in the midsize pickup segment. It plans to start building a new version of the Ranger -- a nameplate killed in the U.S. five years ago but still going strong overseas -- at the Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018, after the Focus and C-Max move out. Key for Ford will be avoiding too much overlap with the larger and more expensive F-150, a tricky proposition given that the Ranger will have a steel body and only marginally better fuel economy.
Transit Connect and Transit Connect Wagon: The Transit Connect gets Sync 3 for the 2017 model year and can expect some minor updates in 2018 to keep up with a growing array of small commercial vans on the market. No major changes are likely until the early 2020s, beyond possible minor updates around 2018.
Transit: Ford's dominance in the full-size van segment has grown even as more challengers have arrived, and the Transit is still relatively new, so there are no plans for an overhaul anytime soon. A hybrid version in conjunction with a freshening around 2018 would make sense, given that the F-150 built in the same plant will have one, and be practical for companies that have Transits driving in stop-and-go traffic all day.
E series: Ford continues making the E series in cutaway and stripped chassis form for business customers.
Subcompact crossover: Dealers have been clamoring for a crossover smaller than the Escape, but the answer is still more than a year away. The current EcoSport, sold in many other countries, isn't up to U.S. standards. So at this point Ford looks to be waiting for the next redesign before bringing it here. It's unlikely to bear the EcoSport name in the U.S., to avoid confusion with Ford's EcoBoost engines, and may be the first vehicle Ford imports to this country from India. Plan to see it in 2018 or maybe at the end of 2017 if it's ready.
Model E: Ford fought Tesla for the rights to the Model E name. That's because it wants to use the name for what amounts to a family of compact vehicles with various levels of electrification. The Model E, available as a crossover as well as a car, will follow a strategy similar to that of the Hyundai Ioniq, which is to be offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicle. The EV version is expected to have a range of about 200 miles per charge, a target CEO Mark Fields confirmed Ford is shooting for to challenge Tesla and the Chevrolet Bolt. Production is planned for the spring of 2019 in Mexico.
Escape: Ford's top-selling nameplate that's not a pickup got substantial updates this spring, including a bolder front end, a revamped interior and gobs of technology. A full redesign of the Escape is expected in 2019, when it likely will be offered with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and nine-speed transmission. A hybrid version is likely to return at that time.
Bronco: Within two years of the Ranger's return in 2018, Ford plans an SUV on the same platform. The target here is clearly the Jeep Wrangler, so expect a vehicle heavily focused on off-road capabilities and customization.
Edge: Sales are up double digits this year for the Edge, which was redesigned in 2015. It's in line for a nine-speed transmission in 2017, and likely some updates around 2018 to keep its styling fresh, but the next major change won't happen until early next decade.
Explorer: Significantly freshened in 2015, the Explorer is due for a redesign in 2019. It will move to Ford's flexible CD6 platform at that time.
Flex: The Flex, a boxy alternative to the Explorer, won't live to see a second generation, but Ford is in no hurry to kill it either because it's popular in California and profitable. It will keep lurking on dealer lots until 2018, disappearing just before the next Explorer enters the pipeline.
Expedition: The Expedition and its Lincoln sibling, the Navigator, will switch from steel bodies to aluminum about a year later than the F-series Super Duty, which is built at the same plant. Ford will continue to build it in both a short and long wheelbase, and there have been internal discussions about giving the extended version a separate name (Anyone for an Excursion?)
Fiesta: After Ford finally gets a subcompact crossover in the U.S., the Fiesta will become an even harder sell than it is now. Production is expected to shift from Mexico to Thailand when it's redesigned for the 2018 model year. The next generation, which will ditch the dual-clutch transmission and gain interior space to address two big consumer complaints, isn't expected to arrive at dealerships until early 2018.
Focus: Production of the Focus at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant ends in 2018, when a redesigned version will start rolling out of a new plant in Mexico's San Luis Potosi province. Like the Fiesta, the Focus will get a new transmission. The high-performance Focus RS is expected to end production at the same time. It's unclear whether Ford will keep making the Focus Electric after it adds the Model E to the lineup.
C-Max: Ford will stop selling the C-Max in the U.S. after production ends at Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018, with the Model E effectively fulfilling its role.
Fusion: The 2017 Fusion doesn't look much different outside, but it has a freshened interior and new Sport and Platinum versions to capture more buyers who want a higher-end sedan without stepping up to a luxury model. A full redesign is due in 2019, when it will likely retain a plug-in variant but drop the regular hybrid option.
Taurus: Without Alan Mulally around to save the Taurus a second time, Ford may decide to drop the nameplate in North America within a few years, at least for retail buyers. It would likely keep building the car as the Police Interceptor, though Ford sells almost four times as many police utilities as sedans. The full-size car segment has become too minuscule for Ford to bother anymore, and in July, the Fusion outsold the combined total of the Chevrolet Malibu and Impala, so it's already taking up the Taurus' slack nicely. The Taurus will continue in China, where it was recently redesigned, and Ford could decide to import a small volume of those to the U.S.
Mustang: For the 2017 model year, a new front fascia and 10-speed automatic transmission are on the way. Ford is expected to offer a Mustang Mach 1 soon. In 2020, Ford will be ready to redesign the Mustang again.
GT: Only 500 of the carbon fiber and aluminum supercar are scheduled to be built over the next two years. Every one of them is already spoken for, and Ford hasn't confirmed whether production will continue after that (the previous-generation GT existed for just two model years). The first ones are supposed to arrive by the end of 2016.