Ranger ST? Ranger RS? Why Ford Should Build a New High-Performance Street Pickup
In case you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that high performance, high horsepower off-road pickups and SUVs are hot right now.
From the supercharged Ram TRX to the 392 V8 Wrangler to the new Ford Raptor and the upcoming V8 Raptor R—there’s no shortage of takers for these speciality machines with a talent for running through deserts and trails at high speeds.
What we haven’t seen in recent years though are factory high performance street trucks—a segment that in the past has included models like the Ford Lightning, Dodge Ram SRT-10 and GMC Syclone.
With Ford having done away with its non-Mustang performance cars and replacing them with crossovers, the opportunity seems right to bring back a performance street pickup, and the Ranger seems like the perfect platform.
In contrast to the F-150, the Ranger is both smaller and lighter—two factors that would dramatically help when it comes to performance and could help it be more than just a high horsepower behemoth.
You don’t need to reach far into the imagination to see such a thing. Last year Ford Thailand debuted this specially built Ranger for Thailand’s Super Pickup race series.
The series features a variety of mid-size pickups outfitted for a racing and battling each other in traditional road course settings—and with what looks like incredible performance.
As you can see, this road course-going Ranger has borrowed some parts from the Ranger Raptor but in a stripped-out, road course-ready application that looks as much touring car as it does pickup truck.
The Thailand race truck has a turbodiesel engine under the hood—but in our market that could easily be replaced by an upgraded, higher horsepower version of the 2.3L EcoBoost engine that currently powers all North American Rangers.
For even higher horsepower, Ford could use one if its twin turbo EcoBoost V6 engine options just as you find in the Ranger’s platform-mate, the Bronco. It could be AWD, but we think a street-oriented RWD setup would be lighter, cheaper and more fun.
Obviously a production high performance wouldn’t be a stripped-down race truck but it could very much be a reborn version of the Ford Lightning formula for the 2020s—and Ford has all the tools to make it happen.
And we’d wager there would be an equal or larger demand for a practical, high performance pickup as there is for something like an Edge or Explorer ST—both of which are currently offered.
Whether you want to call this hypothetical machine a Ranger ST or go really crazy and build a Ranger RS we’d love to see this idea become a reality.