The Blue Oval is currently hard at work getting the next generation 2023 Ford Ranger ready for prime time, a fact that Ford Authority has extensively covered in the past, as numerous prototypes have been spied slathered in the typical camouflage we’ve come to expect from these models. However, our photographers recently captured an atypical Ranger covered with a different sort of material, and to make matters more interesting, they spotted it testing in tandem with a current generation Ford Ranger equipped with the Tremor Off-Road Package.
While it is relatively clear why the pre-production Ranger is outfitted differently than other versions we’ve spotted in the past, the fact that it is rolling with a Tremor suggests that the heavily disguised test truck may be our first window into what a next generation version of the Tremor might look like.
Before we dive into what this particular 2023 Ford Ranger prototype tester might be hinting at, it’s worth explaining why it is decked out with a different set of camouflage than other models we’ve seen in the past. This particular pickup sports a vinyl or vinyl-adjacent material that is literally riveted to the body for one express purpose: to prevent the third-party company that tests the model on behalf of Ford for its EPA-mandated emissions testing from seeing anything noteworthy about the truck. While riveting camouflage to the body might seem like an extreme move on the Blue Oval’s part, the procedure helps keep any details about the truck away from prying eyes.
Camo aside, the abnormally long exhaust pipe is another indicator that this Ranger is slated to have its emissions evaluated, as the setup is meant to help with testing.
Despite the heavy camouflage being worn by this 2023 Ford Ranger prototype, the covering failed to completely obscure the front end, giving us clues into how the production model will look when it officially debuts. For starters, the entire area seemingly boasts sharper, more aggressive lines than the current model, which features a more rounded aesthetic. Overall, these new pictures reinforce earlier pictures that indicated as such, and it appears that the upcoming 2022 Ford Maverick will feature a similar front end design too, as prototypes of the compact pickup have been spotted with virtually no camo ahead of its upcoming introduction sometime in the near future.
That said, the most intriguing aspect of this latest sighting involves the truck riding in front of the 2023 Ford Ranger. Both pickups were headed to a Ford engineering lab, and the duo seems to share something in common, in that they both feature some rugged equipment. For the current-gen Ranger, it’s obvious as to what it comes packed with, but on the disguised truck, things are a bit murky. It clearly boasts a leaf spring suspension setup out back, but sweeper-style coverings prevent us from seeing any more details about the suspension as it pertains to the shocks, or anything else around the rear wheels.
That may indicate it is a Tremor model, and if that is true, a set of Fox dual-reservoir units could be situated behind the camo. If that is the case, it would make sense to see it tooling around with its outgoing brethren.
However, the inclusion what appear to be Goodyear Wrangler Territory HT tires on the 2023 Ford Ranger throws that assumption into question, as the current model features 265/70 R17 General Grabber rubber, which are a bit larger and contribute to a 0.5-inch taller ride height on the current-gen Tremor, based on our calculations.
In light of the tires, and the bed buttresses aft of the C-pillar, our conclusion is that this 2023 Ford Ranger is a Wildtrak model. A close look at that area reveals exposed brackets along the sides of the box that appear ready to accept the buttresses that Ford typically installs on that particular trim. The omission of those parts could be willful misdirection on Ford’s part, or an indicator that this truck isn’t ready to receive the pieces just yet. Either way, there is still some time before any details about the next generation get officially confirmed.