Every new vehicle that comes to market undergoes extensive testing to ensure it will be durable and reliable not only in repeated daily driving, but also in any extremes that customers might intentionally put it through or accidentally have to overcome. That means complete and total abuse of prototypes all over the globe. Ford takes us through some of the key tests that it uses to expose any flaws in the engineering or weaknesses in the parts or assembly.
First stop is a proving grounds in Romeo, Michigan, in freezing temperatures, pounding the suspension on roads so rough they use robots to drive because humans would simply break.
Also in Michigan, but this time in Dearborn at an indoor facility, the Ranger spent days and days on a “Shaker table”, like one of those machines that shakes paint cans, but a giant, truck-sized one. This test is to ensure that all the bolts and connectors keep not only the body together, but also all the mechanical and electrical wiring that a truck depends on.
Then they headed to Arizona to face the Davis Dam: 11.4 miles at grades up to 6% in 100-degree (Fahrenheit) heat, towing up to test the engine and powertrain, then cruising down to stress the brakes and suspension handling max towing weight. Finally, it’s time for some fun in the Australian Outback, hitting temperatures over 100 degrees again, but this time no trailer, just a never ending expanse of dirt, sand, and harsh terrain. Testing there looks like no fun at all. Considering the aluminum-bodied F-150 was put to the test by secretly racing in the Baja 1000, then campaigning a stock Raptor in the same race a few years later, Ford had to step up its testing game here.
Although not as epic as that project, the 2019 Ford Ranger certainly looks ready for action, with the tough foundation ready to make the leap to a Ranger Raptor version, hopefully with one in store for our market. In the meantime, the standard Ranger is set to appear in the US early next year to take on the Toyota Tacoma and GM’s Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, and should be up to even the most hardcore truck stuff in a smaller package than the F-150.