Meet the American Ford Ranger that pays homage to New Zealand
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In a sea of wild muscle cars and supercars pumping 500hp and (very well) beyond that have debuted at SEMA this week, it may seem a little odd for us to zero in on the 2020 Ford Ranger RTR — built by the specialist Ford tuning firm of the same name.
But, there's one special touch on the pick-up that got our attention.
In the most part, it's a ute that doesn't feature much in the way of extreme change. A new RTR front fascia derives its signature 'LED nostrils' from its popular Mustang RTR cousins. The fender flares have grown, in part to accommodate a beefed up set of Nitto Ridge Grappler tyres and RTR's 17-inch Tech 6 wheels.
While its American-spec 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is largely untouched (no 3.2-litre or 2.0-litre diesel here), there are a few other performance upgrades of note.
Along with an improved tyre package, the RTR gains a Fox 2.0 suspension kit and a Ford Perofrmance cat-back exhaust with side exits that pop out behind the right-rear tyre. The new vents on each front wing are also functional, acting as intake induction points.
These things are all well and good, but it's the black graphic that wraps around the back of the Ranger RTR that got our attention. The topographical pattern throughout the graphic is a neat way to point to the Ranger's gravel-bashing adventure tilt, but RTR has also used the map as a subtle nod to its connection with New Zealand via Kiwi co-owner Ian Stewart.
The map actually depicts Aoraki / Mount Cook in the Sourthern Alps — New Zealand's highest mountain and one that's long had an affinity with American adventure seekers. Its first reported summit, completed in 1894 by Kiwis Tom Fyfe, John Michael Clark, and George Graham supposedly only happened because the group had heard rumours (later proved true) that American mountaineer Edward FitzGerald was looking to be the first to climb the 3724m colossus.
“I’m really excited about bringing the RTR Vehicles style, attention to detail and performance enhancements to the new Ford Ranger,” said Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR Vehicles President and former Formula Drift champion.
“Being an off-road enthusiast and a lover of the great outdoors, I am in love with the way the Ford Ranger RTR can allow you to explore roads and lands less travelled. The smaller footprint of the Ranger RTR allows navigation on narrow canyons and the tight trails that you find off the grid.
"The goal with the Ranger RTR is to inspire our customers to step out of the boundaries, get off the road, enjoy the outdoors and do some exploring! As with every RTR Vehicle we produce, our goal I to offer a unique and fun owner and driving experience whether on-road or off.”
It's yet to be confirmed whether a Ford Ranger RTR will be offered in New Zealand. But, the signs are good, given that there's already a stack of RTR options on Ford Mustangs available to Kiwis via CTB Performance & Accessories.
In the US, the dealer-installed package comes with a starting retail price of US$9,800 (NZ$15,386).