Ford made two announcements about its trucks today: There’s a new special edition of the SVT Raptor pickup truck, and the company says there’s room in its lineup for a smaller pickup truck to slot below the F-150.
Over the past few years, you’ve heard a number of reasons why there’s no Ford Ranger in the U.S.: It’s grown to be too big, too expensive, it wasn’t engineered with the U.S. in mind, etc. Today, at a meeting with industry analysts and a handful of journalists, Ford’s truck program marketing manager Doug Scott finally said what we’ve known all along: There is room for a new small truck to replace the Ranger. The thing is, it might not be the Ranger.
“It’d have to be a true compact truck,” says Scott. “It has to be clearly differentiated from the F-150 in price, size, and fuel economy.” Scott says today’s not-so-compact pickup trucks just don’t do that.
Going into further detail, Scott said a truck that’s cheap and frugal along the lines of the first Ford Ranger and Nissan “Hardbody” Truck of the 1980s is where the segment needs to head.
The current overseas Ford Ranger is a wholly new vehicle from the one that was last sold in the U.S. in 2011. Ford received two federal exemptions to sell the U.S. Ranger in the States, but with new crash regulations, “We would have needed to engineer a whole new vehicle,” says Scott.
Overseas, the Ranger is about 7/8 the size of the Ford F-150, and its volume engines are compact diesels. In addition, a longstanding tax known as the “chicken tax” would have impinged on its profitability had Ford tried to import it here.
Scott posited, “Can you build a business case for [a compact truck] and make it work?” He said he could, and Ford’s global engineering sharing program known as “One Ford” would perhaps amortize the expenses to make it have a chance. But Scott said anything like it would still be quite a few years off, as Ford is already pushed to find enough engineering talent for its current products. “We’re hiring 1,200 engineers this year because we simply don’t have enough people,” he said.
Scott said he’s not sure that the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon replacements will sell all that well because “they look to be a lot like the old ones.” The models were designed with Isuzu-sourced engineering and the engines that weren’t shared in any other vehicles–outside of a few SUVs–didn’t do too well. Ultimately, Scott thinks that if a small truck is to succeed in the U.S., it has to go back to the compact pickup truck’s roots: small, cheap, fun, frugal, and utilitarian. Whether Ford will be the first to jump back on that bandwagon is yet to be seen.
2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition Makes Exclusive Truck More Exclusive
Because the world needed another special edition of a special edition high-performance pickup truck, there’s now the 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition, which amounts to a more exclusive look, inside and out, for Ford’s $50,000-plus specialty off-roader.
New for the truck is a Ruby Red Metallic paint, which is available on many other Ford vehicles. But, we do have to say it looks especially snazzy on the Raptor. Complementing it are brick red interior accents to contrast with black and aluminum finish on top of the Raptor’s Luxury package, and new, boxier vinyl graphics run alongside the bed.
We’re not going to say it looks elegant, or classy for that matter, but it certainly does highlight the SVT Raptor’s upscale appeal.
Much as is the case on any other Raptor, the 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition comes with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that gargles gas, spits it out, and still manages to give the driver and his or her passengers 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. New for 2013–and what will be standard on the 2014 Special Edition–is hill descent control, and gunmetal-colored beadlock wheels come standard on the Special Edition.
In addition, the SVT Raptor is unique from the rest of the F-150 lineup in that it has a Torsen limited-slip differential for better traction to from side to side for the rear wheels. It also has Fox Racing shocks for dune jumping, and Sync, MyFord Touch, and HID headlights will be part of the package. The 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition will be on sale this fall, helping propel the especially special edition truck beyond its previous year’s sales numbers of around 13,000 units, or at least that’s what Ford is hoping.
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By Jacob Brown