ROAD TEST: Ford Ranger Raptor redefining the segment
THERE is nothing apologetic about the Ford Ranger Raptor. The hulking ute leading the hardcore dual-cab market is unashamedly big, boisterous and capable.
With 'FORD' stamped proudly on the expansive grille, the Raptor bustles with road presence. Flared wheel arches housing knobby 33-inch diameter BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres combined with heavy-duty side-steps ensure the ute has the subtleness of a punch in the face.
With a retail price of $74,990, that's $11,000 more than the Ranger Wildtrak with the same engine, it sounds hefty.
But this isn't just a Ranger with a bodykit. Under the metal are wide-ranging upgrades to make this thing an off-roading genius.
Among the changes is a unique chassis, as well as long travel suspension with Fox Shox, aluminium upper and lower control arms, heavy duty skid-plates and underbody protection. Compared to a standard Ranger, the front and rear tracks are wider, while its water wading ability grows to 850mm.
One of the biggest talking points has been the 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine partnered to a 10-speed automatic. We've experienced the same engine in the Everest SUV - it's a smooth and strong unit.
Surprisingly good at trimming through the 10 ratios, rarely do you feel the need to make use of the manual paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.
Comfortable on the highway and around town, the Raptor requires some care when parking (the rear sensors and camera are vital tools), but you can't deny its ride height and there is some lean in the bends when pushing hard. Not that you'd use the Raptor for carving up bitumen.
This thing is for attacking the rough stuff, and hard. It's like a trail bike on four wheels and space for the whole family. Among the mechanical arsenal is low and high-range four-wheel drive as well as a locking rear-differential.
Slink into the cushy leather and suede trimmed seats emblazoned with the Raptor signature and it's a cushy ride.
Immediately feeling like an athletic offering with the chunky steering wheel (including prominent red straight ahead marker) and sports pedals, the leather across the dash with blue double stitching adds class but there are hard plastics across the doors and handles.
Ford's third generation Sync infotainment system and eight-inch colour touchscreen works without fuss, easily pairing your phone while it also has smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The driver's instruments are concise with a digital speedo available. Included is the latest tech which uses cameras to identify speed limits to provide a constant reminder of the zone in which you are travelling via an icon within the driver's digital display.
Externally it looks the best in the hero blue Ford is using in most marketing collateral, but is also available in white, grey, black or red. Metallic options are $600, while if you want to stand out even further the decal pack is $750.
Towing ability is downsized by 1000kg as is payload by 203kg compared to the standard Ranger, but load carrying isn't the focus.
This is one tough looking truck that walks the walk. It's not the fastest, but it is the best off-roader you can buy ready to roll off the showroom floor.
AT A GLANCE
FORD RANGER RAPTOR
PRICE $74,990, drive-away $80,300 from Pacific Ford, 122-124 Sugar Rd, Maroochydore
WARRANTY/SERVICE 5-year unlimited km warranty, $1560 for 3 years/45,000km
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl twin-turbo diesel, 157kW/500Nm, 10sp auto
SAFETY Not yet rated, 6 airbags, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, rear camera and parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise are expected to become standard next year
BOOT 758kg payload, towing 2500kg