Off-road enthusiasts: you’re in luck.
Ford Motor Co. is testing its upcoming Ranger FX4 mid-size pickup. The truck features additional ground clearance and off-road tires for enhanced capability. Spy photographers captured the prototype driving recently near the automaker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.
The 2019 Ford Ranger is expected to debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The Ranger FX4 may be revealed alongside the base model.
The Ranger is expected to feature an assortment of four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines. A diesel may also be available. It will likely use the 10-speed automatic transmission developed in tandem with General Motors. A high-performance version called the Ranger Raptor is also under development.
The new photos mark the first time the Ranger FX4 has been seen in prototype form. The off-road pickup will be styled differently from the base Ranger and the speedy Raptor. The spy shots show a tough front grille that appears similar to the Explorer SUV. The FX4 trim is available overseas with a 3.2-liter diesel engine.
The mid-size pickup segment is currently dominated by the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado. Tacoma sales have topped 179,000 through the first 11 months of 2017, an increase of 3.0 percent compared to the same period last year, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp. GM has sold more than 103,000 Colorados in the same time, an increase of 4.1 percent over 2016.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will also enter the segment with its Jeep Wrangler pickup.
The Ranger FX4 will compete directly with the Colorado Z71 and Tacoma TRD Sport off-road variants.
Total sales in the mid-size pickup segment are down by 2.1 percent through the first 11 months of 2017. However, it is projected to grow. Industry research firm IHS Markit projects sales will increase from 448,400 in 2016 to more than 491,000 in 2021, an increase of 9.5 percent.
Ford will begin to build the Ranger in late 2018.