Dispatch From the Midsized Wars
The New Ford Ranger Was Outsold By The Notably Ancient Nissan Frontier
Midsize pickups have been America’s hottest vehicle segment that doesn’t offer third-row functionality. Jeep entered with the Gladiator. Ram also has plans to get back in the game. Even Volkswagen is dipping its toes into the U.S. market to gauge interest. With that context, Ford reviving the Ranger felt like an obvious move. But judging from early sales figures, the launch has not been so successful.
Ford bragged earlier this year about plants working “massive overtime” to build Rangers and more than 300,000 expressions of interest online. That purported interest, however, has not materialized into actual vehicle sales, with Ford selling just 15,169 Rangers through April 2019. For perspective, Nissan sold 24,479 Frontiers over that span. The Frontier, infamously, is anything but new — the second generation has been in production since 2004.
Video: The 2019 Easter Jeep Safari
Why the Ranger sales malaise? It’s not really clear. The Ranger largely matches the competition on performance and price. The truck earned positive reviews. We at Gear Patrol saw the Ranger as a legitimate competitor genuine competitor for the Tacoma. Then there was a recall of Rangers in March for issues with the shift lever. Granted, that recall was small (3,000 vehicles) and caused no reported incidents. It’s hard to see that being a factor.
The rest of this midsize truck market has not dipped in 2019 and does not appear to be oversaturated. Both the Tacoma (78,558) and Colorado (45,149) are on pace to outdo record sales figures from 2018. Demand for the new Gladiator is expected to be massive, with anticipated residual values meaning you can lease one for practically nothing.
Maybe Ford missed the chance to make a statement in an enthusiasts segment by not bringing over a Ford Ranger Raptor (leaving that to third parties)? Perhaps there was a problem getting trucks to dealers? Those numbers just seem odd.