Whether laid out flat on the ground throwing a shower or sparks or pinned flat out in the desert throwing a trail of dust, the Ford Ranger has been a staple mini truck since replacing the Ford Courier in 1982 as a 1983 model. News of the Ranger's imminent demise has undoubtedly saddened not only Ranger fans, but fans of compact pickup trucks in general.
The Ford Ranger, although trailing the Toyota Tacoma as the Number 2 compact pickup, claims to be the most fuel-efficient pickup truck. With 21 city mpg and 26 highway mpg, the Ranger actually might find its life prolonged by the recent rise in gas prices. Ranger sales have been on a slight rise this year, which is a big deal when compared to the plunging F-series pickup sales. This increase in sales has come despite not even marketing the Ranger.
Although production was scheduled to end in 2009 with the closing of Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ford in now considering a plan in which "the Ranger would stay in production until 2011 when a new global version is ready. That truck would be produced overseas." One overseas manufacturing location for the new global Ranger (codenamed T6) would be South Africa, "which is exempt from U.S. import tariffs on small pickups."
Although the tooling has been paid off, the Ranger's lack of side-impact airbags, mandatory by the end of next year, poses a threat to the Ranger, as one wonders, "How much is Ford willing to spend to update a design that will, in any event, be replaced with an entirely new truck in three years?"