Ford Ranger Wildtrak Prototype Spied Winter Testing!

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Ford’s U.S. off-road Ranger lineup might not just consist of a Raptor and FX4, after all!

All eyes have been on the Ranger Raptor in recent days following the truck’s unveiling in Thailand. And while we await confirmation that the off-road mid-size pickup is on its way to America, we already know that a fortified FX4 is in the pipeline. But now it appears that Ford is going for the off-road trifecta after a Ranger Wildcat was spied doing some winter testing. This time, in the good old United States – northern Michigan, to be exact!

If you are currently wondering what the heck a Ranger Wildtrak is, we won’t blame you. The nameplate has previously served as the Ranger’s top-end model in global markets. But thanks to its unmistakable styling cues, there’s no denying that the truck in these spy shots is indeed a Ranger Wildtrak. Just look at those special buttresses aft of the C-pillar for visual confirmation. Or the higher bed sill extensions that run along the outer edges of the box.

And in case you think this is a tease and merely a global model testing in the U.S., think again. Take a look at the interior, which sports a proper right-hand-drive setup. You’ll also notice the Ranger Wildtrak’s unique orange stitching on the dash, arm rests, seats, and shift boot. If the typical Wildtrak logos are stitched into the truck’s buckets, we can’t see them, thanks to fabric camo seat covers.

In the bed, this particular prototype sports a 12-volt power outlet located on the driver’s side of the truck bed’s side wall. The truck sits noticeably higher than a normal Ranger, and even the FX4’s side exit exhaust has been moved up into the underbody. This not only increases ground clearance, but aids departure angle as well. Thanks to some pretty amazing shots of the underbody, we’ve got a pretty good idea as to what’s going on underneath the U.S.-spec Ranger Wildtrak, too.

By far the most interesting thing about this prototype, however, is what lies under the hood – a diesel. We know the Ranger Wildtrak carries an oil burner thanks to the sticker on the fuel filler door. Not to mention the black smoke it belched out of the exhaust after a subzero cold start. But does this confirm that we’ll get some sort of diesel option in the new Ranger. Or is it merely a test dummy?

We’d bet on the former, but only time will tell. At least for now, U.S. Ranger fans finally have a reason to get excited. The Ranger Wildtrak might not be (quite) the Ranger Raptor. But the more off-road offerings we have to choose from, the better!

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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