There haven’t been many trucks that have generated the amount of intense interest like the Ford Ranger Raptor has in the days since its specifications were published online.
The debate has been mostly surrounding the engine. How can a tiny 2.0-litre four-cylinder be enough to propel something as substantial as the Ranger Raptor.
On the surface, this seems like a reasonable stance. A small engine, a huge car – surely it’s going to be boosted off its nut to get to go anywhere, right?
So, do the haters have a point, or is it all conjecture? Well, we’ve listed the five best things about the new Ford Ranger Raptor, as well as five things than aren’t so great.
Let’s get into it.
The five best things about the Ford Ranger Raptor
Sure, this may be just a superficial thing, but when you drop a fair chunk of cash on a ute, you’ll want it to look good. And this one undoubtedly does.
It echoes its larger, more expensive sibling, but still has its own masculinity. The large “FORD” grille isn’t one of those cheap Chinese ABS plastic knock-offs – it’s a thick, strong addition to the front end styling.
The way the upper bumper flows neatly onto the wheel-arch flares looks far more resolved than the hardcore metal bumpers with bolt on flares that so many dual-cabs suffer from.
And 33-inch tyres always look good.
This is where the majority of the work has been done, but it’s almost an admission of guilt as well.
There’s no doubt that Ford has plenty of money for research and development purposes. So you would think that it would spend a truckload of time to tune the suspension to get it just right. But Ford reached out to Fox Racing Shox to supply them with the best dampers to do the job.
Now, that’s not a cheap exercise. It has been widely reported that the four dampers cost as much as a small engine – and that’s per vehicle. But the reason is that these particular dampers have what’s called “Internal Bypass technology”
This allows both the compression and the rebound damping to be managed depending on the position of the suspension at that moment. Fox Racing Shox also have position-sensitive damping, which firms up the damping as the suspension as it gets closer to maximum compression.
Hardcore off-roaders learnt that Fox shock absorbers have done the job brilliantly and have been fitting their cars with them for years. Ford realised this and thought that it probably wasn’t worth wasting their time when someone has done it right from the start.
So yes, it costs a bit more, but the hard work has already been done. And it’s been done very well.
Ford has spent an inordinate amount of time on the seats especially. Several different foams had been trialled, focussing on high speed off-road comfort. If that sounds strange, the company reckons the Raptor has been tested for long runs at over 170kmh off road. Imagine that with the wrong foam in the seats.
Suede was chosen technical suede on the seats for additional occupant grip shows the practicality behind the material choice.
Multiple long-distance drive events were staged to gauge just how the seats perform over an extended period of time, both on highways and off-road tracks to simulate customer usage. The dual hardness cushion ticked all the boxes, providing superior lateral support and reduced feel of any chassis vibration. This is achieved by a modified structure, using bolsters on the seat back for greater support.
While the drive modes are very cool, especially Baja mode which allows the traction control to be backed right off to really get into it properly, there’s more to the story than just the programming of the stability system.
For anyone who’s ever gone off road, exploring tracks is part of the fun. But when there are several forks in the tracks (when you’re traversing dunes, for instance), remembering which ones to take when heading back can be quite difficult.
The SYNC 3 system has a Hansel and Gretel feature, which leaves “breadcrumbs” along the path that you’ve taken, using just the GPS system rather than relying on data, which may be sporadic at best. You can then follow the same path back, or loop around and join up again. It could be a literal lifesaver.
Also cool is the voice activation which keeps your eyes on the road, and yes, you can speak naturally to it.
The engine and transmission
Yes, we did say the engine. A four-cylinder diesel being able to get enough grunt to make this thing go like it should?
Definitely. Just look at the latest Land Rover Discovery. That uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel four-cylinder as well with the same torque figure (500Nm). And that’s enough to move the seven-seat behemoth to 100kmh in 8.3 seconds.
Imagine the same engine and transmission in something several hundred kilograms lighter. You can start to understand that it’s not so bad after all. But then, the Raptor gets a 10-speed auto, which keeps the engine at peak torque levels for longer.
With 500Nm and ten gears, this engine should be just right for the job. And it’s lighter over the front end to keep the car more balanced.
The five best worst about the Ford Ranger Raptor
The ride height
We don’t have an issue with the height overall – that’s just fine. But have a good look at the side profile photo that Ford sent out. Why, oh why, could Ford not have adjusted the front ride height to match the back?
Okay, so it may be that Ford is readying the Raptor for people to load up the tray, which will level the whole thing out. But let’s think about it. How many customers of this type of truck will be running around with heavy tools in the tray?
Let’s be honest here – there will be a lot of people who buy it for its potential as well as its looks. And it just doesn’t look right sloping down like that.
The overall height
The Raptor looks seriously impressive and with its wide wheels, it’s got an imposing stance. But stepping up into it isn’t so much of an issue, thanks to its side steps and grab handles, though the bolstering is still probably a little too aggressive for comfortable entry.
However the height when stepping out is going to be a serious problem. If you’ve ever stepped out of a car that has wide side steps, you know how much of a pain it is to swing your leg out and then step down. But when it’s so much taller (thanks to its 33-inch tyres), you’re almost going to be falling out of it. Or it’s going to be a reverse step down of the process when you get in.
And then the bolsters are going to wear even more as people slide out. We can see lots of seats getting retrimmed in the future.
The towing capacity
It’s been overlooked a bit with all the fuss about the engine and other things, but it’s worth covering properly.
In Ford’s press release, it stated that the “2500kg towing capacity also accounts for dirt bikes or jet-skis, as well as traditional work needs during the week.”
Hold up just a second. Did they just say 2500kg? That’s a full 1000kg less than the standard, cheaper Ranger, which has a 3500kg braked towing capacity.
That difference can be enough to prevent you towing your boat, or even a cherry-picker, if you’re needing a EWP at some point. Remember that whatever you load into the tray has to get taken off the towing capacity, meaning some cement in the tray and a trailer full of bricks may take it beyond the stated limit.
If you’d bought a standard Ranger, however, you’d probably be sweet. That, folks, is a big issue, right there.
Ford hasn’t released full weight figures yet – presumably because we’d get a shock – but you can be sure it’s not going to be a featherweight.
The current Ranger weighs around 1950kg, but when you add 2.3mm thick steel bash plates, side steps that can take 100kg of force, wheelarch flares, heavier duty suspension, bigger brakes (with thicker steel discs) and 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrains, you can be sure that there’s a lot of weight added.
Of course, going from a five-cylinder to a four-cylinder will save a few kilos, but overall, it’s going to be a heavier machine. And extra weight is never good.
We haven’t had confirmation as yet, but it’s expected to be around AU$80,000 when it goes on sale. If you thought the VW Amarok V6 was expensive, get a load of this thing.
For that sort of price, imagine the modifications you could perform on a normal Ranger to bring it up to Raptor spec, or something similar. And hey, at least then you could still tow 3500kg….