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What year did they start making the Ford Ranger pickup truck, and when did it return after being discontinued? The Ford Ranger has had a few different generations and designs over the years. It’s been a beloved small pickup truck since its inception but eventually went by the wayside. Recently, it was reintroduced as a slightly larger, more capable truck by the American automaker.

The introduction of the Ford Ranger

Ronald and Nancy Reagan stand next to their 1995 Ford Ranger
Ronald and Nancy, with their new Ford Ranger, pick up in their Californian Ranch “Rancho del Cielo.” | Jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma via Getty Images

The Ranger name was used by Ford before the Ford Ranger truck ever existed. Initially, the Edsel Ranger used the name in 1958 as its lowest trim sedan. That lasted until 1960, when the Edsel brand eventually died off. In 1965, a trim package for Ford’s F-Series trucks gained the Ranger name. Later in 1972, the Ford Bronco Ranger was introduced as a mid-to-high level trim for the SUV.

Finally, in 1982 the Ford Ranger compact pickup truck was introduced to release for the 1983 model year. It would replace the Mazda-produced Ford Courier in the automaker’s lineup. The compact version of the Ranger ran until 2012, when it got discontinued. It went through a few different generations during that time, which each changed a small amount.

Three pickup truck generations from 1983 to 2012

a dealer's lot loaded with 2011 Ford Ranger pickup truck models, the last generation before its discontinuation.
2011 Ford Ranger Models In a Dealer Lot | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

There were three different generations of Ranger during this period. Each of them received minor refreshes during their lifespan as well. The original version of the Ranger ran from 1983 until 1993 when it got a redesigned front fascia, a rounder body shape, and more. The second generation was short-lived and was replaced just a few years later for the 1998 model year.

In 1998, the third generation was introduced, which added a longer wheelbase and cab. The inline four-cylinder engine went from 2.5-liters to 2.3 and made 117 horsepower. The other engine options were a 4.0-liter V6 and a 3.0-liter V6. This new generation introduced a sizeable rear window and new seats providing ample legroom compared to previous models.

In 2004, the Ranger received a refresh, including a new grille, front bumper, and hood. It also gained optional and luxurious leather upholstery and a CD player. The 2007 variant introduced new standard features like an auxiliary audio jack, an anti-theft system, and more.

Why was the Ford Ranger discontinued?

The 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat full-size pickup truck in red parked on a dirt country road near patches of forest
2021 Ford F-150 Lariat | The Ford Motor Company

The Ford Ranger pickup truck was discontinued in 2008 but stayed in production until 2012. The discontinuation was simply due to a massive decline in sales over the years. With the increased popularity in other, larger trucks, the demand for the tiny Ranger wasn’t there. Ford eventually did away with it entirely after the 2012 model year, and we wouldn’t hear about it again for quite some time.

When did the Ford Ranger come back?

A yellow 2022 Ford Ranger Splash pickup truck against an orange background.
2022 Ford Ranger Splash | Ford

Just like the old saying goes, you never know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. As Autolist stated, once Ford gave consumers enough time without the Ford Ranger, they started to miss it a little bit. People started asking for it to make a comeback, and no one was sure if that would ever happen. Since the market had a high demand for midsize trucks like the industry giant Toyota Tacoma, Ford took it upon itself to reintroduce the Ranger.

This time, the Ranger came back to life as a midsize truck. Gone are the days of being in a tiny little Ranger. This time, the midsize truck competes with the Tacoma, the Chevy Colorado, and other trucks of similar size. It’s the perfect smaller complement to Ford’s best-selling vehicle in America, the full-size F-150. The 2019 Ford Ranger came in hot with a completely redesigned, almost unrecognizable exterior styling.

Looking to the future

The future of the Ranger is looking bright. Since the reintroduction of the Ranger, the fourth generation has been an overall success. Now that Ford knows the demand is there for a truck like this, it’s quickly introducing the next generation of Ranger. The 2023 model year will give the Ranger a complete redesign and all-new features, including the rumored off-road and Raptor models.

We can’t wait to see what’s next for the Ranger, and luckily, we don’t have to wait much longer. Ford will unveil the all-new 2023 next-generation Ford Ranger later this month. All the details about when and where to watch it are available now, and it’s coming up quickly.


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