An off-road supercar? Ford Ranger Raptor Review

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

The Ford Ranger Raptor has divided opinions but when you need to get from one end of a rough dirt track to the other there’s no better way to travel.

2021 Ford Ranger Raptor Specifications

Price $76,490+ORC Warranty five years, unlimited kilometres Safety 5 star ANCAP Service 12 months, 15,000km Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbocharged diesel Power 157kW at 3750rpm Torque 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm Transmission 10-speed auto with paddle shifts Drive part-time 4×4 with low range Dimensions 5398mm (L) 1873mm (H) 2028mm (W) 3200mm (wheelbase) Ground Clearance 230mm (approx. measured) 283mm (claimed) Angles 37.5-degrees approach, 24-degrees departure, 24-degrees rampover Spare full size alloy underslung Tare weight 2232kg GVM 3090kg Payload 758kg Towing 2500kg braked; 250kg towball Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 8.2L/100km 

The Ford Ranger Raptor melted the Internet when it was announced. The name Raptor has huge meaning for off-road enthusiasts thanks to the Ford F-150 Raptor which combines power with unbelievable ability to handle whatever a dirt road will throw at it.

So, the idea of a Ranger Raptor had huge appeal to Australia. But almost as soon as the thing was announced and the specs revealed, the haters took to their keyboards.

The engine was too small, ‘they’ moaned, it can’t tow or carry enough… and all before anyone had driven it. Only the hate continued after motoring writers began driving it. Writers claimed it wasn’t good enough off-road in rock crawling situations, that it couldn’t tow as much as a regular Ranger or carry as much in the tray and so off-roaders and the Internet couldn’t get their heads around the thing.

And that’s because everyone saw the Raptor as another 4×4 dual cab ute. Sure, that’s what it looks like and it’s better than a standard Ranger in rough terrain but that’s not it’s thing. It’s not a touring rig. It’s a specialist machine. A rally rocket dressed up like a ute.

ranger raptor review

I mean, the Ranger Raptor lobs from the factory with ultra-expensive suspension designed so the thing can survive being jumped and thumped into, at speed, the sort of terrain that would have other dual cabs curled up in a ball. This thing is an off-road supercar built for jumps and skids. Think of it like that, and your opinion of the Ranger Raptor will change instantly. I mean, no-one looks at a Porsche 911 and goes, geez it’s phenomenal on a race track but it’s rubbish at running around town…

And, don’t worry, I’ll come back to the engine momentarily.

Let’s talk about the price for a second or two. A Ranger Raptor will cost you around $13k more than a Ranger Wildtrak, listing from around $76k. But you’re getting a lot more than $13 grand in additional value.

ranger raptor review

For a start there are the Fox racing shock absorbers which cost an arm and a leg (I mean the shocks alone would cost you almost $13k), a reinforced chassis, rear disc brakes and bigger front discs, an off-road towbar, aggressive 33-inch BF Goodrich rubber, rated recovery points front and rear and a solid side step that looks strong enough to balance the car on, and then there’s the tweaked Terrain Management System which allows for terrain-based adjustment including Baja mode. There’s also a unique grille and Raptor badging around the outside. 

That’s all stuff that you can’t get from the aftermarket for this sort of premium over a regular Ranger Wildtrak. Sure, you can beef up your Ranger but it’ll just be that, a beefed up Ranger and not a Raptor.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

On the inside you get the regular Ranger Wildtrak interior but with tweaked front seats (eight-way power adjust driver’s seat) with blue contrast stitching, beefed up bolsters, unique headrest and embossed Raptor badging. There are magnesium paddle shifters on the steering wheel but if someone told you they were plastic you probably wouldn’t argue with them.

Beyond that, you get everything on the Raptor that the Ranger Wildtrak gets, so, infotainment screen with Ford’s latest SYNC3 system which includes native sat-nav and Apple and Android connectivity, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry.

The seats are comfortable with good grip in the sides for when the going gets bumpy. And there’s good adjustment on them and the steering wheel too so it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel.

There’s a reasonable amount of storage in the front of the Raptor, like bins in the doors, sunglasses holder in the roof, cup holders in the centre, a deep-ish centre console bin and glovebox. Climb into the back and there’s enough room for two adults or three teens. There are ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats, power outlets at the back of the centre console but no rear air vents. The seat base can be flipped up when they’re not being used to allow some interior storage.

Now, it’s not as practical as a regular Ranger. See, the tweaked suspension reduces what you can carry in the tray, with the claimed payload down to 758kg but a more real-world 600kg would be closer to the mark. The tray is lined and there are tie-down points located on the floor and the tailgate is damped which makes it easy to raise and lower.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

And then there’s the towing capacity. Where the regular Ranger can tow a braked 3500kg, the Raptor is reduced to 2500kg. While some have complained about this, this thing is a performance vehicle so cut it some slack.

Right, the engine. Some expected a thumping V8 or tuned turbo-diesel, the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-pot we got instead doesn’t exactly get the pulse racing. But it makes out 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1750-2000rpm. And hung off the back is a 10-speed automatic transmission. The fact this engine can also be had in the Everest and Ranger with the same output doesn’t help the Raptor’s case.

But, you know what. It doesn’t matter. The Raptor weighs more than a Ranger running a 3.2L five-cylinder diesel engine and gets a more aggressive tyre package so it was never going to feel quick on the bitumen. And, sure, give it the full Size 12 and it doesn’t exactly pin you back into the seat. But that’s not what this thing is all about.

ranger raptor review

Despite its monster truck looks, and the fact the suspension set-up is designed for fast-driving across dirt roads, the on-road ride is out of this world and unmatched by any other four-wheel drive on the market. Yep, better even than a Range Rover’s magic carpet ride quality. There’s a level of comfort, compliance and yet control that you just don’t expect.

The suspension control is genius and the Fox shocks mean there’s not a single speed hump or pothole you ever need to slow down for. And the best thing, hitting something sharp-edged goes by almost unnoticed in the cabin. Oh, and those BFGs mean the chance of a puncture is pretty low.

The bitumen ride is sublime and that’s the same when you hit the dirt, with ruts and ripples easily taken at road speeds. Where other utes would be bucking and banging, the Raptor just glides across the ground with confidence and control.

ranger raptor review

Might seem like a big call but it’s quite possibly the most capable and comfortable dual-cab 4×4 you can buy. And that’s because the shocks have been tuned for softness in the middle two-thirds of travel with a firmness building towards the end of their travel to ensure full extension is handled progressively and in a controlled manner. 

The shocks are worth every penny of the price premium over the regular Ranger. And they’re clever too with the ability to pause at full extension if a wheel is in the air so that they’re not compressed when that wheel hits the ground, cushioning the landing. Check out the video to see how it handles the landing…and we could have gone much harder and higher with our effort.

Too often car makers go for a wheel and tyre package on four-wheel drives that look good parked outside your local cafe. But when it comes to driving off-road a 20-inch wheel and thin rubber is a complete liability. The Raptor’s wheel and tyre package is bang on with 17-inch alloys and aggressive 33-inch BF Goodrich LT tyres.

More than the tyres, the wider track, shocks and improved wheel travel is the fact the Raptor gets a lower crawl ratio than the regular Ranger, from 38.6:1 to 43.4:1. And the Raptor also gets a Terrain Management System which is accessed behind the Mode button on the steering wheel. The driving modes include Normal, Sport, Mud/Sand, Grass, Gravel, Snow, Rock and Baja. These modes alter things like the transmission, throttle response, stability control and brake traction control.

ranger raptor review

Baja’s the one you want for fast blasts down dirt roads. It’s been designed with The Baja race in mind, and everything is tuned to allow the car to cope with bumps and thumps at speed. And if you want to drift the thing, keep it in Baja and hold down the traction control for about 10 seconds. Then everything’s down to you. No safety net.

The off-road angles are improved (all but rampover) with approach at 37.5-degrees, rampover and departure both measuring 24-degrees. The regular Ranger Wildtrak is 29-degrees approach, 21-degrees departure and 25-degrees rampover. But anyone who tells you this thing has 283mm of ground clearance as claimed is pulling your leg. Climb underneath and measure to the diff pumpkin which is the lowest part of the vehicle and it measures 230mm.

As good as this thing is at rock crawling that’s not its bag, as I’ve been banging on about throughout this review. Honestly, if you need to get from one end of a bump dirt road to the other there’s nothing else you can buy that’ll do it as easily or as comfortable and have you grinning like an idiot the entire way than the Ranger Raptor.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

Forget about perceived shortcomings compared with other dual cabs and think about what it gives you that other dual cabs don’t. And that is the ability to make you smile when you’re driving down every single dirt road. Unless you’ve driven a Raptor in anger it’s hard to explain just how much fun, and just how good it really is.

Ford is to be applauded for building the Raptor. It’s not only built a properly capable off-roader but it’s built one of the most exciting performance cars of the decade.

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