A tougher Ford Ranger is still in the picture for Aussie showrooms. Ford Australia has admitted that high-end models account for nearly three quarters of Ranger sales, and it would not rule out a Ranger Raptor model joining the line-up.
Ford has applied to trademark the names ‘Ford Ranger Raptor’ and ‘Ranger Raptor’ in Australia, adding credence to rumours of a hotter Ford Performance version landing on our shores.
Wheels believes the likely introduction of Ranger to the US market for 2019 could provide the impetus for a junior Raptor model in the Ford family, under the Ford F-150 Raptor.
Ford Performance has committed to developing 12 new models by 2020. So far, it claims delivery of eight including; the F-150 Raptor, Ford GT, Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS, and Shelby GT350 and GT350R Mustangs.
As reported in the April issue of Wheels, the Ranger Raptor will likely get power and suspension upgrades and extensive bodywork changes – at a price. Expect to pay upwards of $80K.
Drivetrain specifics are not yet confirmed. Ford could continue to use the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel or one of the latest petrol engines, such as the 242kW 2.7-litre turbo, in the F150.
“XLT and Wildtrak models make up approximately 70 percent of Ranger sales in Australia,” said Jasmine Mobarek, brand communications manager at Ford Australia.
“What that demonstrates for us is customers are willing to put their hard-earned dollars behind those high-end vehicles, because it’s not just a workhorse anymore. It crosses work and play.”
Ranger has been as high as third on the new car best-sellers list in Australia this year.
It’s possible we’ll see a Raptor variant appear in the current Ranger line-up, or it may have to wait until the all-new Ranger, due in 2019.
Reports are firming up rumours about Ford’s plan to build next-gen Ranger in the US for the American market. The Australian designed and engineered Ranger is already sold in 180 countries globally.
Stateside, Ford’s full-size F-Series utes remain as popular as ever, though smaller, style side variants from General Motors, Toyota and Honda are working their way up sales ladders. Ford dealerships in Australia do not offer the F-Series to buyers, however, right-hand drive converted models are available through third parties.
Ford USA has not had a vehicle competing in the mid-size truck segment since it stopped selling its own Ranger in 1999.
It is also probable we’ll see Ford Everest – the Aussie-developed SUV version of Ranger – rebadged as the Ford Bronco and built in the US for the American market.