Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford’s 2019 Ranger might be new to the U.S., but the model’s uninterrupted existence in overseas markets means those customers get first dibs on the brawny Raptor variant. This assumes North Americans eventually get their hands on the wide-track, off-road Ranger model, and it’s a reasonable assumption.

As for the reborn Ford Bronco, a Ranger platform-mate slated for U.S. production in 2019, the existence of a beastly Ranger Raptor is enough to generate the faintest of hopes for a wilder SUV. Now, thanks to comments made to an Australian publication, those dreams don’t seem nearly as crazy.

Speaking to Drive, Ford Performance head engineer Jamal Hameedi remarked on the possibility of doing to Ford’s overseas Everest what it did to the Ranger.

The Everest, like the upcoming Bronco, is a midsize SUV built on the Ranger’s T6 frame. The SUV’s rear suspension — a coil-sprung solid axle with a Watt’s link — is similar to that of the Raptor, which ditches the stock Ranger’s rear leaf springs. It’s not a total carryover, but the two vehicles share enough similarities to make an Everest Raptor worth talking about.

And talk, Hameedi did.

“There’s no reason [we wouldn’t do an Everest Raptor],” he said. “The first F-150 Raptor was way beyond our wildest dreams in terms of success, and that success spawned a Ranger Raptor. So to do an SUV is a little more difficult because you have to figure out how to deal with the rear suspension. In the form of a bodyside outer it’s not just a box outer [and that] poses a unique challenge in how you package that.”

Ford Everest Front 3/4, Image: Ford

The most obvious difference between the Ranger and its Raptor sibling is the added width. The Raptor’s body stretches nearly a foot wider, with a track increased —  front and rear — by nearly 6 inches. Frame modifications became necessary. While stretching the skin of an SUV over a much wider track would pose its own challenges, it’s an idea Ford of Australia doesn’t  dismiss out of hand.

“Long term it would make sense if you look at the fact that passenger vehicles were overtaken by SUVs this [2017] year,” said Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy. “There’s definitely a case for more performance oriented or at least more sports styled SUVs in the future.”

It’s still a longshot, and who knows what Ford’s American crew feels its customers deserve, but faint hopes don’t need much fuel to stay alive. We now have a Ford Edge ST, with an Explorer version on the way. The future, at least at the Blue Oval, seems dependent on crossovers and SUVs, some of them with added performance cred.

Is a butchier Bronco too much to ask?

[Images: Ford]





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