If you’re a regular reader of ours, two things: 1) Thank you, sincerely; and 2) you’re probably aware of our stance on the condition of the small to medium-pickup truck market here in the U.S., or rather the complete lack of one. In the vacuum left by the disappearance of the Ford Ranger, the first-gen Canyon and Colorado twins, and — long ago — the likes of the VW Rabbit pickup, no automaker has rushed in to fill the void as they enjoy the healthy, seam-busting profit margins currently being turned by the larger vehicles.
And as we continue to sit this trend out, the rest of the world seems to get it better and better.
Ford still offers the Ranger abroad, and it’s a very different truck than the one we Americans ever got. It’s a bit bigger, but it’s definitely more masculine and a more rugged truck than the weekend hauler we so desired. Not content, however, Ford could be bringing some familiar nomenclature Down Under to adorn it’s international cargo-hauling jewel: Raptor.
In Australia, where most living things are hell bent on causing harm and death, Ford is moving ahead to offer a Raptor package on its fresh-faced Ranger pickup. Like the Raptor we have that’s based on the F-150, it would likely be loaded with off-road, enthusiast-oriented parts and components, allowing for even more tough for when the going gets rough.
This isn’t assured, however, but Motor Authority — quoting the Australian car news site CarAdvice — says that trademark filings made by Ford’s Aussie branch for “Ranger Raptor” and “Ranger FX4” indicate that such a vehicle is looming in the wings.
“Of course, automakers often register trademarks simply to protect the names or to use them for purposes other than on new vehicles, but the guys at CarAdvice have also managed to spot Ford engineers testing a Ranger sporting some upgrades that wouldn’t look out of place on something like our own F-150 Raptor,” Motor Authority said.
If true, the model would slot above the Ranger Wildtrak, currently the most ruggedly-capable model that Ford of Australia offers. Expanding on that platform, the new model reportedly was seen with a snorkel for greater fording capabilities, higher ride height, and beefier wheel arches (presumably to accommodate chunkier go-anywhere tires).
Ford offers two engines with the Ranger: a 2.2 liter four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.2- liter six that has 197 horsepower and 346 pound-feet. However, if Ford is committing to such a project like it did with the F-150 Raptor here, it may very well get its own powerplant separate from the two options currently available.
Sadly, unless there’s a dramatic repeal of the Chicken Tax, this Ranger — and all the others — don’t stand a snowball’s chance of being sold in the U.S., which is very unfortunate. The F-150 Raptor is great at what it does, but it’s large and cumbersome, and quite expensive. For now, we’re left with only used models and aftermarket parts to fulfill our own off-road Ranger dreams.