I don't disagree with you here, but I think the issue is more complex than WotC being unwilling to do it.
5e (and most RPGs) just don't have robust wilderness exploration/travel rules (and honestly I don't see how they could and keep to the spirit of the game) but let's say those are created, and exploration becomes roughly equivalent to combat as an interesting, varied subsystem, and the Ranger has awesome abilities that make those more fun without trivializing them.
The problem is you can't just let the Ranger play in this new playground: every class has to have meaningful ways to participate. It's one thing to say that some players make a couple of Survival or Persuasion rolls while other players watch, but it's another thing to design a whole, engaging subsystem and only let some players contribute meaningfully.
And you also can't let magic trivialize this subsystem. I know a lot of people feel that casters are vastly superior to martials in combat, but it's not like the martials just stand there and watch while the casters dispense with the bad guys. (And if that's happening the encounters were already trivial.)
So now you're not just designing a new subsystem, but re-designing...or at least augmenting..all the classes to give them ways to engage with it.
I just don't see it happening.
Want to play the popular archetype of the natural explorer? Take Survival, use a bow, describe your character as wearing a green cloak.
The Ranger has got to be something more/different.