Updated date:

Evolution of the Ford Ranger

Luke is a college graduate and student athlete. He has been a car enthusiast since age 9 and continues to share his expertise on cars.

The first Ranger was established as the Edsel Ranger in 1958. In classical auto shows or the Ford Museum, you should look at one. The Ranger was a snug category for the Ford F Models when it was initially added to the truck lineup in 1967. Three years later, a high grade was presented, known as the XLT Ford Ranger. In other words, Ranger started as a big, distinctive Ford luxury model, and this mode lasted for nearly a decade, with truck lovers scooping it up not just in the US but worldwide.

evolution-of-the-ford-ranger

Ford Decides To Gauge The Ranger

While the Ranger enjoyed its reign as the extravagant class of the Ford line of trucks, the Courier was being delivered as a more modest compact alternative at that time. The problem is that Mazda was building the vehicle at the time, and Ford wanted to transition from that arrangement. It was proving to be a costly endeavor, and they wanted a vehicle that would be both affordable on the creation and sale end. This was when Ford decided to scale down the Ranger's luxuriousness and halt the agreement with Mazda. They would now design their own cost-effective smaller trim vehicle or, in other words, transform the Ranger to meet the demands of the people at the time for small but efficient trucks.

So, In 1983, the company rolled out the first small version of the truck, created in-house as it chose to prioritize its customers' desires. People loved the F-150, but they wanted something concise yet complete, and that's what they got. Also, the new compact truck positioned Ford to compete with and outshine both Chevy, who had the small S10, and GMC, who had the S15 as their smaller model.

The newly introduced model of the truck was sporting both V6 and diesel engines giving customers the chance to select whichever one met their preference. Customers also had the choice between a six-foot bed or a seven-foot bed. The Ranger took a little while to catch on to the other small to mid-range trucks because it was presented half a year later than the competition. Once the vehicle gained traction, it hit the ground running, and customers were swooping it up by hundreds of thousands, especially as the interior design was enhanced. By the late 80s, the Ranger ascended with alternatives that encompassed sway bars, deep-cushioned seats, a rear window that was able to slide open, and an array of other features. The Ford Ranger is most commonly thought of as a compact utility truck. You’re used to seeing fleets of them for electric or other industrial companies, sporting ladders, and tools to get work done at various sites.

However, the Ford Ranger didn’t start that way. It’s changed over the decades and continues to evolve to meet the needs of drivers.


Making The Ford Ranger More Economical

Around 1988 the Ranger was redesigned to sport the bumper shape and integrate fog lamps for the look we’re most commonly used to seeing on the roads today.The second generation introduced in 1993 had rounded edges and a smaller grille in a failed attempt to be more fuel-efficient.

Next, to compete with Chevy's electric S10-EV electric truck, the Ranger was produced in electric models from 1998 to 2002. Sadly, most of the electric Ranger was returned to Ford and crushed. They were much more expensive compared to their non-electric counterparts. Only about 400 electric Rangers remain today and it's probably incredibly difficult to convince an owner to part with theirs. It also had a transmission that made the vehicle operate at its optimum, and customers loved it. The 5R55E was the driving push, no pun intended, behind the Ford Ranger, making it a force to be reckoned with.


The Transmission That Powered The Ranger

It was in 1997 that the 5R55E was presented to the world of trucking specifically, Ford world, and truck enthusiasts were all for it. This modern class of automated electronic transmission with extra front gear was identical to the 4-speed 4R55E in terms of mechanisms. It was an American auto manufacturer's first five-speed automatic transmission. It sent the competition into a whirlwind because now they too would have to step it up a notch or two to rise to the new level of competition Ford was presenting.

The 5R55E featured more reliable computer controls and an advanced friction-to-frozen transmission capability (relevant to manage the added advancing gear). As with the 4R44E comparative to the 4R55E, for lightning duty applications, a 5R55E series was made: the 5R44E. One such illustration will be the models of the Ford Ranger pick-up in which a 3.0l Vulcan OHV V6 is attached to the lumber-duty 5R44E and a heavier-duty 5R55E to a powerful 4.0L SOHC V6 Cologne.


All Good Things Must Come To An End

Even with its fancy 5F55E transmission and V6 engine, things began to change for the compact truck. At first, the Ranger had numerous changes done to improve its size and visibility. Ford saw hundreds of thousands of sales annually, with the vehicle being sold as an off-road truck suitable to protect the atmosphere while doing its tasks. There was also an extended version of the super cab with rear-hinged doors, but sales started declining rapidly. All these modifications were not capable of keeping the Ranger untouched in its class because customer's tastes were again changing. The manufacturers failed to make the types of changes their customers wanted, maybe because it already had the F150-250.

Either way, revenue decreased steadily, but development was kept until 2012, despite the compact truck discontinuation four years earlier. You may wonder why the production of the vehicle continued. Every country has different demands for vehicle types, and the Ranger remained in high demand internationally.


2019 Ford Ranger

evolution-of-the-ford-ranger

And Just Like That, The Ranger Has Been Resurrected

While the Ford Ranger was eventually destroyed by a slow fall in sales, it was not seen by the public. Potential customers appeared to see the difference in the smaller to medium-sized truck market. In 2019, Ford brought the ranger to life again after the new fad and growing investment in mid-sized vehicles such as Tacoma. But rather than a small model, it has become more of a mid-size vehicle. The new Ford now boasts a 10-speed automatic transmission, but one can't help remember the earlier models' catalyst, the 5F55E transmission.

In summary, the two recent models of the ranger are not much different in size from the F-150. What does this mean for Ford?/Are they just taking a chance and hoping that the wind will blow in their favor? Or is it that their assessments have indicated that there may be a long-term demand for the mid-size vehicle? Until then, consumers seem to be enjoying the comfortable ride both off-road and on regular terrain.


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Luke Wilhoit

Related Articles