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Ford reveals new flexible rack system for 2023 Ranger

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Nov 18,2022


Ford is continuing to increase its range of genuine accessories for the 2023 Ranger.

Today it has announced the introduction of a sliding load rack and folding roof rack system designed to allow owners to load longer items the length of the roof and load box.

Ford is dubbing this new load carrying system the Flexible Rack System (or FRS for those into acronyms), and is expecting to have it available on select Ranger models in 2023.

The Flexible Rack System was developed by a team of Ford Australia Special Vehicle Engineers, in collaboration with design, engineering and manufacturing company, JAC Products.

It slides within a C-shaped channel mounted to the top of the load box sidewalls, and is able to be locked into five different positions, allowing for loads of different lengths to be carried simply and easily.

Another feature of the sliding load rack, is the incorporated pop-up crossbar – which increases the height of the loading platform to match Ford’s folding roof racks, which are stowed away within the roof rails when not in use. These crossbars can also be adjusted into two different positions, for further versatility.

By unlocking the sliding load rack on one side it automatically releases it on the other side, which is how Ford has achieved the brief of one-person operation.

Nik Tibhuvan, senior engineer of the Special Vehicle Engineering division, said: “The Flexible Rack System redefines how customers can use their Next-Gen Ranger and is just another example of Ford’s ingenious design features on next-gen product. Both can be operated easily by one person and have been put through a lot of the same durability testing as Ranger itself.”

Danny Trentin, application specialist for the Ford Ranger, added: “We learned from our customers that they would load things like canoes into the load box and then lean them up against the sports hoop before tying them down. This was awkward and meant the load box couldn’t really be used for storing anything else a customer might want to take with them.”

This 80 kilogram dynamic load limit applies both on-and off-road, with a static load capacity limit listed at a massive 250kg. This has been achieved through the use of four roller bearings angled at exactly 37-degrees, as well as retractable stabilisers and specially designed locks that are easy to operate when unlocked but prevent the sliding load rack from moving when locked.

As well as being strong, functional and easy to use, Ford tells us the Flexible Rack system needed to look like it belonged on the vehicle, not like an afterthought. Thorough testing to ensure the robustness of the system was also critical to the release of the product, with testing conducted at Ford’s Silver Creek Road test track.

“Part of our durability test involves our famous Silver Creek Road test track, which is so torturous we use autonomous driving robots to complete this phase of the testing,” Nik Tribhuvan tells us.

“The FRS was tested at full load and completed 77 runs on the track, passing with flying colours. It completed 400 runs with no load. We tested the system with bulldust, red dirt, salt and water, to replicate the sort of real-world grit and muck owners will encounter.”

Drainage holes have also been incorporated into the track, making for an easy to clean system using a basic garden hose for those who regularly head off-road.

Expect to see this system in showrooms next year, with Ford announcing a 2023 release for select Ford Ranger models. As a side note, 4X4 Australia Editor Matt Raudonikis has seen this system in the flesh, and reckons it’s an exciting innovation for four-wheel drivers and tradies alike.

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