Ford gave off-roaders the old bait and switch this year when it revealed the North American–spec 2019 Ranger in XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels, but the only off-road variant shown was the light-duty FX4 option package. Adding insult to injury was the reveal of the overseas-market Ranger Raptor in Thailand, a right-hand-drive machine that would be limited to Asian, African, and European markets.
But now, we’ve caught a peek at a left-hand-drive Ranger Raptor up close, and we really like what we see.
Spotted trundling around Detroit, the little Raptor (due for the 2020 model year) looks like it’s built to American specifications, complete with gaudy body-side graphics and the distinct lack of a diesel clatter. That’s likely because Ford swapped out the overseas Raptor’s unique 2.0L twin-turbocharged diesel I-4 for a 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 or a 2.7L EcoBoost V-6. Either of those energetic gas powertrains would probably be a better fit for the Ranger Raptor, with the former producing 310 hp and 350 lb-ft as installed in the Mustang, and the latter making 335 hp and 380 lb-ft in the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus.
However, we still hope Ford will see fit to federalize the twin-turbo diesel for the Ranger Raptor. Making 211 hp and 369 lb-ft in the overseas-market pickup, it would be a great rival to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2’s available 2.8L turbodiesel I-4, which produces 181 hp and 369 lb-ft. The Ford’s diesel would be a good fit for low-speed rock duty (as is the ZR2’s oil-burner), while the turbocharged gas powertrains would be perfect for desert rapid transit.
Helping with all sorts of off-road duties will be a long-travel suspension, possibly with similar active dampers as the 2019 F-150 Raptor. A wider front and rear track, betrayed by flared fenders and massive tires, improve off-road stability and wheel travel at the expense of maneuverability in tight forest confines. Nevertheless, the Ranger Raptor might prove a better mud-and-ruts companion than the F-150 Raptor, thanks to its trimmer dimensions.
Expect the Ford Ranger Raptor to be revealed as soon as the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and production models of the off-road pickup should arrive sometime in 2019.
Source: SpiedBilde Photography