Ford has given the first official glimpse of the 2022 Ranger ute as it undergoes off-road testing in Australia and New Zealand.
Two images and a short video show at least two versions of the crucial new model that goes on sale next year as a rival to utes such as the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50.
Each car – a dual-cab and Super Cab, each with the steering wheel on the left – is covered in black and white camouflage to hide the final look, which appears to continue the muscular theme of the current Ranger, which has been on sale since 2011.
The footage and images have been taken in various locations, including the Flinders Ranges and somewhere near Alice Springs. If anything it looks like a chance for those disciplined engineers to have a bit of fun with some muddy slides and rocky hill climbs.
The car is also having some sideways fun on snow, most likely at Snow Farm in New Zealand, which is a popular cold weather test location for car makers from across the world.
There’s even a kangaroo jumping across the video to really ram home the Australian connection.
And it is a big Aussie connection for the all-new Ranger. Like the current car, a decent chunk of the development work has been done in Australia, with various development vehicles snapped on Australian roads over recent years.
The brief glimpses are enough to show Ford hasn’t messed with the hugely successful formula. It still looks like a sizeable ute riding on a ladder frame chassis.
But the lights – particularly up front – have taken a huge leap forward, seemingly leaning on design flexibility that LED configurations allow and bringing the Ranger closer from a design perspective to the made-for-America Ford F-150.
The bonnet also has some more defined ridges in it. And while an updated version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is expected to carry over, there’s also a growing expectation that the Ranger will pick up a V6 engine, something that will be fitted standard to the top-shelf Ranger Raptor.
The new Ranger is also set to get a jolt or electricity during its anticipated decade-long lifespan.
Rumours have swirled around the arrival of a hybrid Ranger – including, possibly, a plug-in hybrid, and Ford in America has also confirmed it is working on a Ranger EV. That’s no surprise given the soon-to-arrive F-150 Lightning pure EV.
Given the importance of the model, there’s every chance this first official teased released by Ford won’t be the last. Expect more details on the new Ranger over coming months.