2019 Ford Ranger Raptor—or FX4 (Please Be a Mini-Raptor!)
What It Is: A new-generation Ford Ranger pickup wearing what emerge to be broad fenders, bulky off-road tires, and lots of camouflage. The style of those wheels, and the seemingly trimmed front bumper that raise this Ranger’s chin higher over potential obstacles, should look familiar to anyone who has seen the latest F-150 Raptor. We believe this Ranger prototype is a test mule for suspension lumps and assets addenda that could make their way into a Raptor-emulating, off-road-focused Ranger model.
Why It Matters: Ford’s announcement that, at long last, it is bringing the Ranger back to its lineup in the United States after a seven-year hiatus is big news. It’s also predictable, given that almost all of the Ranger’s competitors were recently redesigned and are splitting the spoils of resurgent consumer interest in mid-size pickups. This potential off-road Ranger would make sense, what with Toyota and Chevrolet now suggesting hard-core off-road versions of the Tacoma and Colorado, and now that Jeep has a Wrangler pickup on the way. A muscled-up, rock-ready Ranger would go head-to-head with the Tacoma TRD Pro and the hairy-chested Colorado ZR2, and it could leverage the passions of Ford truck fans ignited by the F-150 Raptor.
Platform: That the Ranger platform was developed by Ford of Australia for sales worldwide explains this prototype’s right-hand-drive configuration: It’s likely a Ranger built for a right-hand-drive market such as Thailand or Australia, to which Ford bolted a smattering of mini-Raptor parts for testing the effect of the widened stance, knobby tires, Raptor-style wheels, and those blistered fenders. The front control arms emerge thicker than usual, and they’re visible underneath the cut-down front bumper that would seem to afford a greater treatment angle than the stock bumper.
Powertrain: What isn’t yet apparent is for which off-road mission this Ranger is built—that would tell us more about what powertrains to expect in the special truck. For example, the F-150 Raptor is set up for high-speed dune running and Baja-style desert romps. Chevy’s Colorado ZR2, on the other palm, is more focused on rock-crawling like a Jeep Wrangler. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is somewhere in inbetween. If Ford goes the mini-Raptor route, it’ll need to inject the Ranger with some power, perhaps using the 325-hp twin-turbocharged Two.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine available in the larger F-150. Should this Ranger be more of a rock-crawler, it could lodge for a less powerful V-6 or a four-cylinder diesel engine, both expected to feature in the broader U.S. lineup, with greater emphasis on low-rpm torque delivery. In the latter case, this prototype could preview a comparatively tame FX4 off-road trim package like the one Ford offers on the F-150. You can most likely guess which version we’d like to see inbetween mini-Raptor and FX4.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Just as mid-size trucks have grown to within inches of full-size trucks’ key dimensions, so, too, have their prices. In total off-road trim, the Colorado and the Tacoma are harshly $40,000 equipments, and that’s where we’d expect this Ranger off-roader to land should it go on sale. If it does, expect to be able to buy one in late 2018.