The race truck has a new chassis with IRS, too.
The Ford Ranger returned to the U.S. market for the 2019 model year, but it’s easy for us in the States to forget it’s not actually a new vehicle. The current-generation midsize truck has served numerous global markets for years, both as a daily driver for buyers and as a dedicated off-road racer.
Now, Ford is taking a new step in the motorsports segment with a familiar-looking Ranger that’s actually completely revamped under the skin. The truck will compete in the South African Cross Country Series, running in the top FIA class for the series, but could any of this tech make it to U.S. shores for the next-generation Ranger in North America? More on that in a bit.
Ford has previously campaigned Rangers in the South African series, fielding a fleet of trucks with 5.0-liter V8 power and solid-axle rear suspensions. By comparison, this new race-spec Ranger uses a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 taken from the F-150 Raptor, and it’s nestled in an updated chassis that moves the engine further back for a mid-mount configuration. The solid axle at the back is also gone, replaced with a fully-independent setup at all four corners that delivers 11 inches of travel. Naturally, power goes full-time to all four wheels, and for curtailing that power there are six-piston Brembo calipers in front, and water-cooled calipers at the rear.
Ford will eventually roll out three of these racing Rangers by mid-2020, with race teams starting in the current V8-powered trucks and transitioning to the new models when available. With all-new underpinnings, Ford acknowledges 2020 will be more of a learning year in the racing series but hey you have to start somewhere.
Getting back to that interesting question we posed early on, a completely new Ranger is expected in global markets for 2021. It should follow in the U.S. for 2022, but could this race truck give us a taste of what’s to come? A fully independent suspension is extremely unlikely, even on the high-performance Raptor model (which may or may not come to the States). It’s epic for performance driving, but the vast majority of truck buyers won’t be jumping dunes in Baja. From a cost and durability standpoint for daily use, a solid rear axle remains the obvious choice.
The engine, however, isn’t something to rule out. An EcoBoost four-cylinder making 270 horsepower (201 kilowatts) is the only mill currently offered in North America. Rumors have circled since its return that a more powerful model could arrive, especially with the unveiling of the fifth-generation model.
Whether that’s a V8 or the EcoBoost V6 remains to be seen. But seeing this race truck running the same engine as its larger Raptor sibling is certainly a very interesting turn of events for Ranger fans.