2011 Ford F-150
Big is the new small
It's not an exact fit, but along with those smaller vehicles, Ford will use the new V-6 version of the F-150 as a figurative Ranger replacement. The new 3.7-liter V-6 (the one you'll also find in the 2011 Ford Mustang) thoroughly outscores the Ranger's V-6, with fuel economy estimated at better than 15/20 mpg and 300 horsepower on tap, compared to the Ranger's best showings of 15/20 mpg and 207 hp. A V-6 Ranger XLT costs just over $19,000--while a base 2010 F-150 runs just $22,060, though it's missing some power features the smaller V-6 Ranger XLT offers as standard.
The new F-150, in fact, makes perfect sense to most compact truck buyers except for a few user cases: the four-cylinder diehards who'd otherwise buy a used truck, the truck-agnostic types who might just as soon buy a compact coupe as a style statement; or worst of all for Ford's accounting department, the fleet buyers who opt only for the low-to-no profit base Ranger with the four-cylinder, the five-speed manual, the regular cab and almost no options. That's the classic "bug truck" you see at auction, where it's often recirculated through the new-car industry's lower digestive tract, otherwise known as the auction.
Truck buyers who still want four-cylinder pickups are still in luck, sort of. The Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier still offer four-cylinders, at a base price of about $15,500 and $17,500, respectively. But those who really want compact-truck size and park-ability are out of luck. Of all the automakers to show concept compact pickups--remember the Dodge M-80 and the Toyota A-Bat?--none have pulled the trigger and committed to build new unibody-based trucklets. If a business case unfolds for a true compact pickup, Ford needs only to look at its swelling fleet of small cars--Focus, Fiesta, C-Max, Escape and Transit Connect--for a flexible architecture that could add a truck derivative.
Instead of a 2012 Ford Ranger, truck drivers get an F-150 instead--and Ford gets a year to explain how sometimes bigger is better, even if it's less well-equipped.