Although a redesigned Ford Ranger just hit the European market, Ford is planning on replacing that light-duty truck with an all-new version for 2012. Under development for the global market, the new truck would finally replace the aged U.S.-spec Ranger that has soldiered on for roughly 12 years with just minor updates. Our spy shooters have caught up with a 2012 Ford Ranger prototype in the Alps that gives us a closer look Ford's upcoming entry-level truck.
Based on Australian-developed T6 architecture, this vehicle is undergoing European testing with heavily modified Mazda BT-50 (Mazda's version of the current Ranger) bodywork. We can see that the windshield has been raked at a steeper angle on this test mule - a move that should help to improve the truck's aerodynamics in the name of fuel efficiency. The wheelbase appears longer and the track wider than the current Ranger, with a heavy-duty rear differential and four-wheel drive appearing to be fitted to this prototype. Both front and rear fenders have been widened with riveted sheetmetal to cover the truck's larger dimensions.
Engine options will likely include Duratorque TDCi four-cylinder turbodiesels in Europe, as well as small-displacement turbocharged gasoline-powered mills. In the U.S., the 2012 Ranger could get the new 1.6L EcoBoost with around 175 hp and similar levels of torque. With crew cab and four-wheel-drive versions inevitable, the 2012 Ranger could help fill the void that the canceled F-100 project left in Ford's North American lineup. The truck should also help combat sales of Volkswagen's upcoming Amarok truck in Europe.
Production of the current Ranger is slated to be terminated in 2011, we'd expect to see the 2012 Ranger in late 2011 or early 2012.