A mule of the Ford Ranger-based SUV currently under development by Ford Australia has been spied undergoing testing in Victoria.
Snapped by an avid CarAdvice reader from Western Australia on holidays in Melbourne, the left-hand-drive prototype's appearance on public roads confirms Ford Australia's engineering work on the SUV designed around the Ranger's T6 platform is progressing.
Combining the front half of a Ranger ute with the rear end of a Territory SUV in a Frankenstein-style mix, the T6 SUV is expected to be revealed in production form in 2014, when it is tipped to badged either Everest or Endeavour after earlier Ranger-based SUVs produced in Asia.
Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald confirmed the prototype was one of several similar mules currently being tested by its local engineering team.
“We said at the launch of the Ranger … the T6 pick-up was the first of some [number of] vehicles [to be produced off that platform],” McDonald said.
While he declined to reveal any details on timing or specifications of the T6 SUV, McDonald confirmed the program was running to schedule and progressing with more development cars hitting the streets.
The Ranger-based SUV will join a growing number of seven-seat ute-based SUVs on the market, rivalling the Navara-based Nissan Pathfinder, Triton-based Mitsubishi Challenger and the Colorado-based Holden Colorado 7.
The T6 SUV will be larger than the Falcon-based Territory and have more of a rugged, off-road focus.
The Ranger-based SUV could take on even more significance locally come October 2016 when production of the Territory ceases, potentially becoming Ford Australia’s sole player in the full-size SUV segment.
The T6 SUV will be built alongside the Ranger at Ford’s production plant in Thailand.