What the Ford Ranger 2021 will take from the Bronco and F-150: Cutting-edge off-road tech on the cards for all-new Toyota HiLux rival

The Ford F-150 and Bronco might not be sold in Australia, but it looks like the new Ranger and Ranger Raptor will borrow from their off-road arsenal, with new FordPass Connect technology to usher in some cutting-edge off-road technology.

FordPass Connect, which will roll-out on the current Ranger in its “bedrock” form, refers to the modem fitted to Ford’s vehicles, which pairs with a new application that gives owners the ability to control several of the car’s core functions from their mobile phones.

As it stands right now, that includes things like allowing you to unlock or lock your car, start or stop your vehicle remotely, report your vital fluid levels (including the status of your fuel tank) and locate your car, all via a free-to-download application. It also unlocks live traffic functionality.

But that’s just the beginning, with Ford in Australia confirming we can expect to see FordPass functionality now offered in the USA make its way to our shores once the system is bedded-in.

“It is a global program, we are on a global rollout, and what you’re seeing here is what the States have had for some time, and they are now seeing new features and other additions coming which are the sorts of things that we would see,” says Ford Australia’s Christine Wagner.

The big question, of course, is what sorts of features we can expect? For that, we quizzed global FordPass Mobility director, Jonathan Richards, who pointed to the just-launched F-150 and Bronco for clues.

“What’s launching in Australia and around the world is the strong foundational ecosystem that connects the phone to the car via the Ford Secure Cloud. That offers a substantial set of high-value features,” he says.

“We’re starting with those, and then, with that ecosystem in place and functioning flawlessly, that’s where we would build further customer-oriented features on top.

“Some of the things that have just been recently announced in the United States are things like Zone Lighting, Off-Road Mapping capability, and Adventure Capture capability.”

Let’s start with Zone Lighting, which launched with the new F-150 truck. According to Ford, the system gives an owner control of all exterior lights individually via the in-car screen or the FordPass app. If you’re camping, for example, you can activate the only the left- or right-hand lights of your parked car, (including those embedded in the wing mirrors and tray) illuminating your campsite or campfire. The system, says Ford, means customers “never have to work, camp or do anything in the dark”.

Ford’s Adventure Mapping tech, this time debuted on the Bronco, gives owners the ability to “plan, navigate and share their off-road adventures”.

The system in the States makes use of topographic trail maps and a library of more than 1000 curated trails to help you pick a route, or you can map out your own and share it with mates before or after your trip. The system also activates the car’s external cameras which act as an extra set of eyes when navigating the tough stuff.

Expect to see the new Ford Ranger in 2021.