DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. doesn't believe the midsize Ranger will steal much business from its profit-generating full-size F-series trucks when the smaller pickup returns to North American showrooms early next year.
"There always will be some substitution, but this is more of a lifestyle vehicle for people who want to use it for different purposes," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, said Monday at an event celebrating the Ranger's expected start of production here next week. "The F-150's gotten bigger over time and more expensive. We believe there's room now to slot the Ranger in very nicely in the showroom."
Hinrichs said the first Rangers should be available to buyers in January 2019. Ford recently retooled its Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, Mich., to build the pickup and, in 2020, the resurrected Bronco SUV.
Some workers in the body, paint and stamping sections of the plant have already returned to work. Final-assembly workers will return next week, Ford said.
The revived Ranger will start at $25,895, including shipping, and will top out at more than $40,000. That's about the same as the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma, which starts at $25,400 for 2018 models, but more than the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Pricing on the 2019 Colorado starts at $21,495, while the 2019 Canyon starts at $23,095.
The Ranger's turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine will be able to tow and haul more than the V-6 gasoline offerings from its rivals, Ford says.
It will come in three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat. Ford will sell two-door SuperCab and four-door SuperCrew configurations and offer two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive for each configuration.
An off-road FX4 package will be offered on all 4wd models.
The Ranger was discontinued in the U.S. in 2011 but has continued to sell in a number of overseas markets. The latest U.S. version, to be built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, has a mostly steel body, axles made by Dana Inc. -- which supplies the Jeep Wrangler -- and an exterior design similar to its larger F-series counterparts.
The previous U.S. Ranger was regularly among the segment's top sellers, including No. 1 as recently as 2004. Ranger sales routinely totaled more than 300,000 a year in the 1990s before fading in the early 2000s.
However, interest in the midsize pickup segment has rebounded. It's up 18 percent so far this year after rising less than 1 percent in 2017.
"We're very excited about the growth we're seeing in the midsize segment," Hinrichs said. "We believe bringing back the Ford Ranger will add to that excitement and get more interest in that segment."
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