What’s in the garage?
In terms of driveway goals and tradie one-upmanship, the Blue Oval’s Ranger Raptor is high on the ‘want’ list. However, Ford’s offering isn’t merely a sticker pack and a jacked-up price. Genuine off-road cred materialises in the form of Fox 2.5-inch bypass shock absorbers and 285/70 R17 BFGoodrich tyres with bush-bashing tread to fill the pumped guards. There’s 150mm more track front to rear, an extra 46mm of ground clearance and 30 percent more suspension travel to fulfil your stadium-truck dreams. The sticking point at launch was the lack of an EcoBoost V6 powertrain – a quoted 0-100km/h time of 10.5 seconds isn’t earth shattering. However, the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel four-cylinder offers 157kW and a substantial 500Nm of pulling power. Tied to Ford’s new 10-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) and a trick driving mode branded Baja, the Raptor has the gear to back up its dominating presence. If you want one, you’ll need to stump up $74,990.
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What we reckon
Power and performance:
If you’re expecting the Ranger Raptor to match its outward menace in straight-line pace you’ll be largely disappointed. Just like its competition, Ford’s offering is all about torque over outright performance. And it delivers that in spades. The new, downsized 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo unit is a more refined unit over the outgoing single turbo five-pot, behaving much more like a passenger-vehicle-spec diesel over a commercial unit. With 500Nm of grunt, there’s certainly no shortage of torque to pull you out of trouble or to cruise in higher gears with the largely slick 10-speed auto. If towing is a high priority, opting for the ‘old’ 3.2-litre, six-speed auto combo would be a better bet. It’s also a shame we don’t have the option of the 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol four-cylinder that’s standard in the US. Still, despite the fact there’s no boosted V6 nestled within the engine bay, the 2.0-litre oiler is an impressive engine that endows the Raptor with enough bite to get stuck in off-road.
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Ride and handling:
Sitting on Ford’s T6 modular chassis, designed to allow for different wheelbases and suspension setups, the rugged Ranger has been extensively modified for extra stability. In terms of ride quality, the Raptor is a revelation – both on- and off-road. Ford has spent money on expensive Fox Racing dampers, and they work wonders for city potholes and any obstacle you might encounter out of urban gridlock. Its ability to absorb and control rebound movement is truly staggering. The regular coils at the back have also been replaced with a Watts linkage, adding genuine long-haul ability to the Ranger. Six driving modes are offered, with the key one aptly-named ‘Baja’, which sharpens the auto’s actions and allows a little more freedom from the electronic aids to have some fun in the dirt. It’s still a hardcore 4x4, meaning a dual-range transfer case is fitted, the wading depth is 850mm and there’s 283mm of ground clearance to play with. The Raptor will conquer just about anything, but watch out for wet tarmac as the BFGoodrich tyres don’t offer optimal grip – especially in two-wheel drive mode.
Interior and Comfort:
It’s a Ranger… and despite its halo-status, it looks like one inside, too. Yes, you get some Ford Performance badging, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear shifter and handbrake and well as unique seat trim, but it’s not too dissimilar from the rest of the higher model grades. Infotainment is covered off with Ford’s SYNC 3 system as well as the capacity to provide Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality via the central 8.0-inch touchscreen. The Raptor also scores AEB, lane keeping and departure warning, trailer sway control and all-round sensors as some of the standard safety tech. The dimensions of the cargo tub are the same as the garden-variety Raptor, so all the usual accessories will fit. However, the overall towing capacity is down 1 tonne to 2500kg and the payload is reduced to 758kg.
If you’re in the market for a dual cab that’s genuinely capable and looks the part, then the Ranger Raptor isn’t going to be a disappointment. At $74,990 it’s a premium product, but you have to factor in the expensive hardware underneath helping the Raptor be as skilled as it is. And you can’t discount the fact that the Raptor is as competent as it is fun.
FORD RANGER RAPTOR SPECS
Model: Ford Ranger Raptor
Engine: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel
Max power: 157kW at 3750rpm
Max torque: 500Nm at 1750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 10.5sec (claimed)
On sale: Now