Is a longer-bodied and extended-wheelbase Ranger XXL with a roomier cabin and greater towing capacity in the pipeline for Australia?
Spotted on public roads near Ford’s proving ground in Geelong this week by an eagle-eyed CarsGuide reader, this is one of the first sightings of the super-sized Ranger in Australia, following spy shots of a prototype in North America back in June this year.
Under development for at least three years at the Broadmeadows and You Yangs engineering departments as part of the T6.2 project that also includes the Everest SUV, it is anticipated to have a North American debut sometime later next year or during 2024.
While Ford Australia declined to comment on the Ranger XXL, its chances for a release here are fifty-fifty at best, given the commitment to the F-150 series in the latter half of next year.
But then again, putting aside the fact that Australian consumers have an insatiable thirst for all-things utes, what better way to clobber the best-selling Toyota HiLux with a heavy-duty Ranger XXL?
Additionally, while our reliable informant said it was too difficult to confirm decisively whether the Ranger XXL doing the rounds in Victoria’s second-largest city was right-hand drive (RHD), the usually mandatory ‘CAUTION: LEFT-HAND-DRIVE EVALUATION VEHICLE’ sticker was not noticed, giving credence that it might be made available in RHD and so potentially to Australian buyers as well.
Make of that what you will.
Wearing the usual Blue Oval-issue patchwork camouflage, the dual-cab prototype is easily distinguishable by its immediately obvious longer wheelbase, extended cabin roofline and wider rear doors, matched by a stretched rear tub to keep things in proportion.
Of course, the upshot of these changes is substantially greater rear-seat space for in-cabin cargo as well as occupants, giving the Ford a handy edge in the medium ute segment against the HiLux, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton (which is about to grow substantially from the latter part of 2023 for its next-gen redesign) and Nissan Navara.
Just as importantly, it is believed that this heavy-duty Ranger XXL will also receive a useful towing-capacity bump, up from 3500kg to at least 4500kg if some rumours are to be believed, further differentiating it from rival products.
It’s also expected to get increased ground clearance and beefier suspension to match its heavy-duty capabilities.
It can be safely assumed that a version of the existing 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel will most likely be employed, though with Ford and Volkswagen already confirming the arrival of electrification for their respective and Ranger and Amarok fraternal twins in the not-too-distant future, you can probably add a petrol-electric hybrid version in the mix as well. There would certainly be enough room underneath this lengthy ute for the required technology.
The result should be a family friendly, do-more and go-further Ranger that sits neatly lengthwise as well as in capability between the regular version and full-sized trucks like the popular Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado and coming F-150 series.
So, what’s our take on the Geelong prototype?
Since the Ranger XXL was first photographed back in June, it was expected to be a North American only exercise, given bigger is better in that part of the world and all that.
But that endless demand for utes here in Australia is something no carmaker can afford to ignore. Plus, the F-150 will likely be expensive – and well into six figures for higher-spec grades – when it arrives later next year, meaning there is probably a sizeable gap between it and the regular Ranger that an XXL version of the latter could easily fill, especially if the Thailand factory that supplies all of our T6.2s builds it.
Stay tuned, as we’ll update you with all the latest information on this and all future Ranger developments as they come to hand.