Ford Motor Co. is hard at work developing the high-performance variant of its upcoming Ranger mid-size pickup truck.
New images from spy photographers allow the clearest look yet at the off-roader as it continues testing.
The Ford Ranger “Raptor,” seen in Flagstaff, Ariz., had clearly undergone some off-road fun recently. Dirt paints the tires, wheel wells and side panels of the camouflaged truck. Photographers said the truck had just returned from Ford’s proving grounds test course in nearby Wittman.
Ford announced its revival of the Ranger nameplate in January, and has been seen testing the Ranger Raptor since June. The automaker will begin production of the Ranger in late 2018 after investing $850 million in its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., that will also build the new Bronco SUV.
The Ranger Raptor boasts an aggressive stance with wide fenders, an increased ride height and capable BF Goodrich tires. Its enhanced features give the Raptor a distinctive look compared to the standard Ranger on which it’s based.
The Ford Ranger Raptor will be positioned to compete directly with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, released earlier this year, as well as the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road.
One tell-tale sign is Ford’s use of a turbodiesel engine. The Ranger Raptor seen in Flagstaff was testing with a diesel, photographers said, most likely the 3.2-liter five-cylinder engine currently powering the Ford Transit van. It is the second time Ford has been seen testing the Ranger Raptor with a diesel.
Currently, the Colorado ZR2 is the only mid-size pickup that offers a diesel engine in the U.S.
The Ranger Raptor also tests with what photographers have described as a turbocharged V6 engine – likely a version of the 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6 in the F-150 full-size truck, or a detuned version of the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 in the F-150 Raptor.
The Ranger Raptor could send its power to the wheels through the same 10-speed automatic transmission that comes standard in the F-150 Raptor.
Though the transmission was developed in tandem with General Motors, it is not currently available in GM’s pickup trucks. The Colorado ZR2 uses an eight-speed transmission with its gasoline engine, and a six-speed for the diesel-powered version.