Our spies have caught a performance version of the next-generation Ford Ranger, but questions remain.
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The 2022 Ford Ranger has been caught on camera in camouflage yet again – but questions have been raised as to whether it is the next Raptor or the new FX4 Max.

While some are calling this the next Ford Ranger Raptor, at this stage it remains unclear.

The signature F-O-R-D grille normally reserved for the Ranger Raptor can be seen behind the thin mask – and Ford's test vehicle wears BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tyres, has four-wheel-disc brakes, and is fitted with what appear to be Fox Racing shock absorbers.

However, with the exception of the four-wheel-disc brakes, these additions could also make this test car the next Ford Ranger FX4 Max, a model recently added to the line-up to fill the void between the Ranger Wildtrak and Raptor performance variant.

Conspicuous by their absence are the Ranger Raptor's distinctive bolstered guards, suggesting what we could actually be looking at is the 2022 Ford Ranger FX4 Max, with only a set of wheel arches to distinguish the model from the rest of the range.

This pre-production mule was spotted testing in the US alongside what is believed to be the upcoming Bronco Warthog prototype – the performance version of the recently-launched Bronco off-roader – with our contacts on the ground telling us the two vehicles shared identical engine and exhaust sounds.

As reported in June 2020, CarAdvice understands the next Ranger Raptor will come with a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine and 10-speed automatic, delivering around 300kW of power and 560Nm of torque.

The powertrain will likely be lifted from the Ford Explorer ST offered in the US, and shared with both the Ranger Raptor and Bronco Warthog. Importantly, the performance levels provide a comfortable gap to the Ford F-150 Raptor, which offers 335kW and 690Nm from its twin-turbo V6.

Curiously, the camouflaged Ranger is being tested in right-hand-drive guise, meaning we're likely looking at a model destined for Australian shores.

Ford's billion-dollar baby

Overnight Ford announced it would invest US$1 billion (AU$1.31B) in its Silverton plant in South Africa to support production of the new Ranger, beginning in 2022.

Both the Ford Ranger and the next-generation twin-under-the-skin Volkswagen Amarok will be produced in South Africa – which is also a right-hand-drive market – at the upgraded Ford factory.

The Blue Oval claims the Silverton facility will be entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024.

"This investment will further modernize our South African operations, helping them to play an even more important role in the turnaround and growth of our global automotive operations, as well as our strategic alliance with Volkswagen," said Dianne Craig, President of Ford’s International Markets Group.

"Ranger is one of our highest volume, most successful global vehicles. This investment will equip our team with the tools and facilities to deliver the best Ford Ranger ever, in higher numbers and with superior quality."

Our impression of what the 2022 Ford Ranger Raptor could look like