Powered-Up Ranger Pines for Younger Crowd RENO, Nevada - Ford Motor Co. unveils the '01 Ranger on a 100-mile (162-km) stretch of tortuous terrain, and Ranger comes out feeling like "the little truck that could."

The '01 Ranger will be available with a regular cab or SuperCab, with three wheelbase choices, a traditional styleside or a more distinct flareside box and several payload capabilities. The SuperCab version is expected to account for more than 60% of sales, which reached more than 300,000 units last year. In addition, a new trim level for 2001 is called "the Edge" and features aggressive styling and monochromatic fascia and trim colors. Ford hopes to appeal to a younger buyer with its Edge series.

The '01 Ranger is available with a choice of three engines: the new-for-'01 offering is the optional 4L SOHC V-6 (now shared with the Explorer), a 3L OHV V-6 and a 2.5L I-4.

The optional 4L V-6 boasts 207 hp at 5,250 rpm and produces 238 lb.-ft. (323 Nm) of torque at 3,000 rpm - that's a 47 hp increase over last year's model and plenty of motivation for a compact pickup.

The 3L OHV V-6 engine will continue to be offered on Ranger and is standard on 4x4s, SuperCabs and the Edge series. It produces 150 hp at 5,000 rpm and 185 lb.-ft. (251 Nm) of torque at 3,750 rpm.

The 2.5L I-4 will remain in the 2001 Ranger powertrain lineup until later this winter, when it will be replaced by Ford's much-anticipated 2.3L "global" I-4. The lame-duck 2.5L achieves 119 hp at 5,000 rpm and 146 lb.-ft. (198 Nm) of torque at 3,000 rpm.

The only word Ford execs are giving up at this time is that the new 2.3L I-4 will debut in Europe this winter and will be Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) compliant, making all but the "Lightning"-series engines in the Ford truck lineup LEV- friendly.

Ranger's suspension has been revised to accommodate the new engines. Changes include updated front-end geometry, stabilizer bar rates, spring rates, upgraded bushings and shock tuning modifications. The 2001 Ranger also has a quieter interior cabin, thanks to improvements made in isolating noise, vibration and harshness.

Stopping performance also is improved through the use of a four-wheel antilock braking system and electronic brake force distribution to optimize braking performance whether the truck's loaded or empty.

The 2001 Ranger will be built at Ford's Twin Cities, MN, and Edison, NJ, assembly plants in the U.S. Production begins later this summer, and '01 Rangers will begin arriving in dealer showrooms shortly after.