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“Incredibly tough” conditions in Australia used for Ford Ranger model test



When Ford needs to test a new tough Ranger model, they head into the outback.

Ford does not mess around when it comes to testing new vehicles. To put its new off-road vehicle, the Ranger Raptor, to the test, the car maker went searching for some of the most gruelling conditions around.

Ordinary test site not challenging enough

Ford maintains a testing facility one hour from Melbourne at You Yangs. This site has a variety of different tracks, with a range of terrain and surfaces to examine pre-production cars. At this site, the company develops ride and handling, simulates vehicle corrosion, works on noise and vibration issues and also determines vehicle durability. However, this site doesn’t provide enough of a challenge for the new Ranger Raptor.

Testing in the outback

To test the off-road, racing-inspired Raptor, which comes with massive Fox shock absorbers and a reinforced chassis, Ford employees had to find formidable conditions. For cold weather shock trials, Ford took the ute to the state of Michigan in the US, pummelling the vehicle continuously for days on end in an industrial freezer set to -5℃. Engineers also drove around in sub-zero temperatures over bumps and ruts, only they had to replace human drivers with robots because the road was so gnarly!

For long-distance towing in hot climates, technicians visited a famously steep hill in the US state of Arizona. This road rapidly climbs 350 metres over 11 miles, placing stress on the drivetrain and brakes.

But when testers needed devastating off-road conditions, there was only one place to go – Alice Springs.

Alice Springs testing

Test drivers took prototypes of the new vehicle to Alice Springs and drove them “enthusiastically”. That’s code for thrashing them. Temperatures soared to 37℃, punishing the ute. Sensors placed around the truck record telemetry that the company uses to improve reliability and strength for production spec vehicles.

Speaking to, the head of Ford Performance, Jamal Hameedi, explained the reasoning behind travelling to Alice Springs.

“We ran our durability testing around Alice Springs. The conditions are incredibly tough."

What makes Alice Springs so brutal on vehicles? Putting the heat to one side, there are ruts, rocks, a fine red dust that wears out moving parts and an unrelenting terrain. Driving was so damaging that test drivers had to rotate every three hours because of the stresses placed on their bodies.

Raptor ute coming this year

On the Ranger Raptor website, Ford says it is coming this year. Specs include a 2.0L twin-turbo diesel pumping out 157kW and 500Nm of torque. Ford has opted to pair this engine with the sturdy Mustang GT sourced 10-speed automatic transmission. The suspension is from renowned off-road racing specialists, Fox and the Raptor will feature all of the latest smart driving technologies like lane keeping assist and trailer sway control.

Looking to buy a Ford Ranger Raptor?

The Ford Ranger Raptor looks like the perfect ute for anyone who needs to go out into the bush or outback, travel over rough terrain or for the tradie looking for a solid work truck. Check out our Ford financing guide and see options for purchasing a Raptor when it's released.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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