4 x 4 Australia - - 4 Cast -

PHO­TOS of a right-hand drive, mid-size pick-up snapped in the US are be­lieved to be that of a Rap­tor vari­ant of the Ranger ute.

The Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped, T6-based Ranger is set to be launched in the USA as a 2019 model to com­pete with the Toy­ota Ta­coma, Chevro­let Colorado and GMC Canyon, and Ford in both the US and Aus­tralia have trade­marked the Ranger Rap­tor name. These RHD test mules fur­ther fed the fire that we’ll get it here in Aus­tralia.

The Rap­tor moniker is taken from the Ford F-150 Rap­tor, which gets some se­ri­ous desert rac­ing kit in the form of Fox by­pass shocks, raised ride height, a tur­bocharged V6 petrol en­gine, 10-speed au­to­matic, un­der­body pro­tec­tion, off-road tyres, and bold, be­spoke styling.

Style shops and ebay sell­ers have been ap­ply­ing the Rap­tor look to lo­cal Rangers for years, but a factory-built model with the go-fast bits has only ever been a dream.

The rumour mill is ram­pant with sug­ges­tions of what will power the Ranger Rap­tor, but the trend is lean­ing to­wards a 2.7-litre ver­sion of Ford’s Ecoboost tur­bocharged V6 that cur­rently makes up­wards of 240kw and 500Nm.

Spy pho­tog­ra­phers have also re­ported see­ing Ranger pro­to­types in both the US and Aus­tralia with a coil-sprung/ Watts link rear end sim­i­lar to what is cur­rently em­ployed un­der the Ranger-based Ever­est wagon. The tassels seen un­der the back of the ute in these pics are there to con­ceal the rear sus­pen­sion from pry­ing cam­era lenses – Ford Oz used sim­i­lar disguises on Ever­est pro­to­types be­fore it was re­vealed.

With the demise of fast 2WD utes from Holden and Ford Aus­tralia, a gen­uine, high-per­for­mance, off-road ute would be wel­come change from the dressed-up dol­lies like the Hilux TRD, Colorado Z71 and Ford’s Ranger Wild­trak.

The Ranger is cur­rently lead­ing the new 4x4 sales race in Aus­tralia ahead of the Hilux, and a per­for­mance petrol model in 2018 will en­sure that trend con­tin­ues.

Other ru­mours of the 3.0litre diesel V6 from the Ford F-150 (and de­rived from the en­gine al­ready used in Ranger Rovers) re­plac­ing the in­line five-cylin­der diesel (for 2019 mod­els) would also help Ford’s sales con­tinue to grow.

If the Ranger Rap­tor comes to fruition here, it will ar­rive along with a ma­jor re­vamp of the model in the first half of 2018. Our prayers go out to the gods of desert rac­ing to make this a re­al­ity.

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