The new Ranger will go on sale in Europe this April and could be on sale in the U.S. by 2011Enlarge Photo
Amid the ongoing global economic turmoil and the unfolding Toyota recall fiasco, we'd like to take a moment to commemorate a brighter bit of news: the 7,000,000th Ford Ranger rolled off the assembly line in St. Paul, Minnesota last month.
Folks of a certain age will recall that the Ranger name was once associated with a styling package available for Ford's F-Series pickups. During the 1983 model year, though, Ford decided to launch the Ranger as a vehicle all its own. The Ranger was conceived as a smaller, fuel-efficient pickup that could compete against the growing popularity of trucks from Toyota and Datsun.
Over the following 27 years, the Ford Ranger changed a good bit -- and not always for the better. What began as a simple, two-door, hard-working alternative to Ford's full-sized F-Series trucks gradually morphed into a highly customizable model, available in a range of trim levels, cabs, and other options. While we've been happy to see Ford adapt to the changing needs of its customer base, the Ranger's quality and styling have suffered in recent years, and production of the model is slated to end in 2011. Ford hasn't made any official announcement about the Rangers' replacement, but in keeping with the company's "One Ford" strategy of streamlining and simplification, many expect Ford to add a more fuel-efficient model to the F-Series lineup.
But that's down the road. For now, we'll simply salute Ford for developing a truck that's remained appealing for nearly three decades -- and for producing enough of them to put one Ranger in the driveway of every person in Houston and Austin, Texas. No small feat, that.