Ford's new Ranger has been caught high-altitude testing in Colorado ahead of its US-market rebirth in 2019 with spy photographers nabbing shots of the Aussie-developed pick-up on public roads.
Although the heavily camouflaged Ranger does not reveal any details on the US-spec version or what developments could make its way into Ford Australia's updated pick-up, a subtly redesigned front grille can be glimpsed.
The shape of the front nose retains the same hexagonal shape, but the US test mule looks to be sporting a four bar horizontal grille design compared with the three bar grille on Aussie-spec Rangers.
The top-most horizontal bar also seems to be thinner than the one found on Australian-delivered pick-ups, while the Ford badge on the US vehicle is also centered between the second and third rows.
Chrome side view mirrors can be seen on the US test vehicle, which is included on local XLT grades of the Ranger, while the wheels are black versions of the 18-inch split-spoke hoops found on top-spec Wildtraks.
At the rear, the test Ranger looks to be wearing the same tail-lights as the current production version, while its side-exit exhaust will likely change once the pick-up hits US showrooms.
It is expected that when the Ranger enters the US market it will feature a number of design changes compared to the Australian-spec version, and they are likely to be styling cues borrowed from its F-150 big brother and high-performing Raptor variant.
In fact, a Ranger Raptor has long been rumored to be in development and could be a starter for the Australian market after its debut in the US, potentially coinciding with the local Ranger's facelift in 2018.
The flagship Ranger Raptor would sit above the Wildtrak and, if it mimics the current F-150-based Raptor pick-up, could include a number of improvements to lift its on-road performance, as well as featuring modifications to make it more capable off road.
A more performance orientated Ranger would also fill the void left by the discontinuation of the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) Falcon ute and would be unique in its class.
The reborn Tickford brand offers a performance and bodykit package to lift Australian Rangers above their more pedestrian siblings.
Engine options in a Ford Performance-fettled Ranger Raptor would likely eschew the diesel powertrain in favour of a high-performing petrol, possibly a twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 which is expected to be offered with the US truck.
Ford's new 10-speed automatic transmission – which was co-developed with General Motors (GM) – is also likely to arrive with the new Ranger when it launches in the future.
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