First Drive: Ford Ranger Raptor Review

The Ford Ranger Raptor is the first factory-built extreme off-road pickup to be offered in Europe, so we put it to the test on the rocky tracks, sand dunes and beaches of Morocco’s wild Atlantic coastline in our comprehensive review.

The Ford Ranger Raptor set hearts pumping around the world when pictures were released early in 2018. However, it would take Ford of Britain until the end of the year to confirm that it would be hitting UK dealerships.

European models went into production at the Ranger factory in South Africa in March 2019, however, Asia-Pacific models have been rolling off the production line since November 2018.

Ranger Raptor: Design

Quite a lot of kit has been added to the Ford Ranger to achieve the masculine and aggressive look. The Raptor is instantly recognisable with its Raptor-badged grille, 150mm wider track, bulging 168mm wider wheel arches, and 285/70R17 BF Goodrich KO2 tyres – which raises the chassis 30mm to give around 283mm of ground clearance.

The standard bumpers have been replaced by specialist off-road versions for better approach and departure angles. The leaf springs have also gone, replaced by independent coil-springs with FOX 2.5 shock absorbers and Watt’s linkage to minimise lateral movement and increase travel by 22% to 290mm.

There are a number of styling cues, like ‘Raptor’ embossed on the body, standard LED lights and a distinctive black tailgate. There are also ‘magnesium’ side steps which double as skid plates made from a tough aluminium alloy and Ford has stiffened the chassis and upgraded the brakes to all-round ventilated discs.

Ford Ranger Raptor under review

Ranger Raptor: Interior

While the amendments aren’t as extravagant on the inside, it’s enough to give it a subtle edge over anything else on the market. The part-suede/part-leather upholstery with ‘Raptor’ stitched into the seatbacks, leather touches on the dashboard and blue stitching affirm the premium feel.

There are also more ‘aggressive’ graphics in the instrument panel, a chunkier steering wheel with perforated leather, and body-colour surrounds on the air vents.

Ranger Raptor: Engine and Driveline

What would you expect to see under the bonnet of a brute of this size? A 3.0- or 4.0-litre turbo-diesel? Well no, Ford has ditched the 2.2- and 3.2-litre TDCi engines on the Ranger in favour of the slightly meagre-sounding 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine from the Transit and Transit Custom.

The Raptor comes with the largest output available on the unit; 213hp and 500Nm. Achieving 62mph in 10.5 seconds from standstill, the new engine is punchier – but only just – than the previous 3.2TDCi but it lags a country mile behind the Amarok V6 and X-Class V6 X350D. Needless to say, we were expecting more.

We did, however, really rate the 10-speed automatic box, which was developed with rival manufacturer General Motors. It’s almost seamless and the swift gearchanges no doubt improves the acceleration but overtaking still requires a lot of ‘build-up’ time and anticipation. It’s very good at anticipating the best gear, but there’s also a manual model with paddle shifts.

Ranger Raptor: Off-Road

Like the X-Class, the Ford Ranger Raptor is available with a number of driving modes (two of on-road, four for off-road), which alter the traction control, stability control, transmission and engine performance depending on the driving environment.

These include ‘normal’, which emphasises a mixture of comfort, fuel economy and driveability, and ‘sport’, which increases the responsiveness of the throttle. For off-road, there are four settings: grass/gravel/snow, mud/sand, rock and ‘Baja’, named after the desert where the F-150 Raptor was developed which tunes the engine for high-speed off-road performance.

Ford Ranger Raptor under review

Ranger Raptor: Ride and Handling

There’s no faulting the Ford Ranger Raptor for handling though, on or off the road, and it’s not even in the same ballpark as other pickups. The soft suspension soaked up the potholes and divots on Morocco’s mountain dirt tracks with ease and, despite the high side walls and raised ride height on the tyres, the steering is very accurate, and it feels very connected to the roads.

The longer suspension travel allows the Raptor to maintain better contact with the ground which, combined with the 150mm wider track, gives greater stability and control. Meanwhile, having the lengthy 283mm ground clearance provides an overwhelming feeling of assurance when travelling over uneven ground.

Even on tarmacked roads, the tyres are surprisingly quiet and they hug the road tight. You can throw the Raptor into a corner at speeds you wouldn’t dream of in a standard pickup, and it’s without the associated ‘yaw’.

The engine is also quiet, although there’s an artificial synthesiser to emphasise the engine growl during heavy acceleration. Unlike standard variants, there are disc brakes at the back too, so stopping distances are shorter and there isn’t the ‘nose dive’ when standing on the pedal.

Ford Ranger Raptor under review

Ranger Raptor: Weights and Loads

The load bed is the same size as the other double-cabs (1,549mm long by 1,560mm wide), but it’s nowhere near as practical. While the new suspension arrangement caters well to hostile terrain, it can’t cope with a decent load. The engineers calculated that the softer coil-springs could handle just 1,008kg over the rear axle without hitting the suspension bump stops.

They decided for a sub-tonne payload of 758kg and a towing capacity of 2,500kg. Manufacturers use 10% of the towing capacity for the pin weight as a rule of thumb, so this 758kg and 250kg pin weight meets the maximum rear axle weight of 1,008kg.

A payload limit well under a tonne makes it difficult to justify the Ranger Raptor for commercial use.

Ford Ranger Raptor under review

Ranger Raptor Price and Availability

The Ford Ranger Raptor is priced at a fairly hefty £48,785, but VAT will not be able to be reclaimed because of the sub-one-tonne payload. The reality is that the Raptor will, therefore, cost around £15,000 more than a Ranger Wildtrak. That’s a significant hurdle for a professional user to overcome.

The first models will be arriving into UK dealerships in September 2019, and will be backed by Ford’s 3-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

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1 Comment

  1. So basicallty it’s £48K plus optional metallic paint. Given that you can’t reclaim VAT, that makes it some £16K more than a fully loaded Wildtrack? And you only get a 4 pot 2L D.

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