• Innovative features could influence next local Ranger.
• New F-150 features a fold-away gear lever for a genius laptop workspace.
• Front seats can be turned into a comfy sleeping place for long-distance drivers.
Ford launched the world's most important vehicle update in June, providing some exciting details on what Ranger fans could expect in future.
By far the world's most popular vehicle, F-150 is what keeps Ford profitable. This bakkie range is where the American company spends most of its R&D money, and although South Africans do not have access to F-150, it might influence the next local Ranger.
Since Ford reintroduced its Ranger to the American market in 2019, it has become a closer twin of F-150. Not all technologies present on Ford's most popular bakkie can or will transfer to the next-generation Ranger, due in 2021, but there are some which are clear candidates.
Things such as the eleven different front grille options are unlikely to be a product priority for Ranger, but some of the new F-150's autonomous driving and cabin technologies might.
2020 Ford F-150 (Ford Media)
Genius laptop mount
Ford's has paid keen attention to the evolving needs of its F-150 users and learned that digitisation is what customers want. To this end, the new F-150 features a large 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Where Ford's interior designers have shown insight, is by balancing the new digital elements with traditional dials for HVAC and sound system volume control.
On the double-cab F-150s, there is now storage space below the rear seats – which can also flip-up when not in use. This is a tremendously useful feature and would be welcome to many Ranger double-cab bakkie owners, especially when working or touring with only a driver and one passenger, allowing optimal use of the cabin dimensions as a safe and weatherproof storage area.
By far the cleverest ergonomic design upgrade that Ford is introducing with its new F-150 is the centre console laptop surface. Anybody who has tried to work on their laptop in a parked car will know the frustration of attempting to balance their machine between the seats, with a gear lever in the way.
Ford's workaround is a stowable gear lever, which folds forwards and out of the way, at the touch of a button. This allows the storage bin's lid to be opened and flipped across, creating a flat working surface for your laptop, between the seats.
Considering how often even the hardiest of bakkie adventurers and farmers need to use their laptops in the field, this feature would work brilliantly on automatic transmission variants of the next Ranger.
2020 Ford F-150 allows for middle console to fold flat over gear lever (Ford Media)
If you have ever attempted to sleep in a bakkie's cabin, you will know that it is at best an exercise in discomfort. Ford realises that its bakkie customers occasionally drive considerable distances in a day or need to rest along the way. To facilitate this, there are optional front sleeper seats in the F-150.
These new seats have a generous 180-degree reclining angle, which allows them to function in a similar way to business class on an airliner. By offering this flat seat function on the new F-150 double-cab, Ford has inadvertently made it a great long-distance touring vehicle.
Engineering challenges and packaging issues might not allow for the next Ranger to adopt all the latest F-150's upgrades. Still, there are certainly some which would give it a massive edge over Hilux.
2020 Ford F-150 (Ford Media)