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.

The Ford Ranger Raptor melted the Internet when Ford first announced it. And then the haters took to their keyboards. The engine was too small; they moaned… and all before anyone had driven it.

And it continued after motoring writers began to drive and write about them. And, you know what, the vast majority of those writers, like 99.9% of them, never ever pointed the thing at a dirt road and drove it down it in anger. I did. Plenty of times. Pat on the back for me, right. Not trying to boast, just suggesting that if you’re going to throw mud then you’re best off walking a mile in someone’s or something’s shoes first, right.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

Let’s talk dollars and sense…

The Ford Ranger Raptor lists from $76,490+ORC and that makes it more expensive than the more-power Amarok Ultimate 580 and around $13,000 more than a Ranger Wildtrak which can be had with the same engine. So, what’s that extra $13k getting you? Plenty but it’s stuff you’re unlikely to see too often unless you get down on the ground and have a real good look at the nuts and bolts underneath the Raptor.

For a start there are the Fox racing shock absorbers which cost an arm and a leg, 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 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.

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.

So it’s a comfortable interior, yes?

Yes. 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 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.

But is it practical?

Not as outright 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.

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. But for those who do want to tow with it, let’s do the numbers.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

The Raptor’s Gross Combined Mass (the weight of the car, everything in it and the trailer) is 5350kg. Remove the 2500kg of the trailer and you get 2850kg which is the maximum the Raptor can weigh while towing that 2500kg. Take the vehicle’s Tare weight (2332kg) off that and you’re left with 518kg for passengers, luggage and towball mass. Minus the towball download of 250kg, this reduces the overall payload when towing at maximum braked capacity down to 268kg.

So, if you’re going to tow with the Raptor just keep those numbers in mind. And, don’t forget the payload in the tray, which is officially 750kg and needs to be factored into things when loading and towing. Don’t be the person I saw the other weekend who was towing a camper trailer (fine) but had the tray loaded down with what must have been bricks by the way the Ranger’s backside was dragging along the ground. This rig was most definitely overweight (read: illegal).

So it’s got the same engine as the regular Ranger and the Everest?

The engine was always going to be one of those things that people loved or loathed about the Raptor. And the two camps seem to be those who’ve driven it and those who haven’t, respectively.

Almost no-one was expecting a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine. The thing makes 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1750-2000rpm. The on-paper numbers don’t look great, especially when you look closer at the fact peak torque hangs around for just 250rpm. Hmmm. Hung off the back of the engine is a 10-speed automatic transmission.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

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. And, sure off the mark it does feel pretty lethargic until it’s rolling at 40km/h. From there it feels more enthusiastic but it’s still not in the same league as an Amarok Ultimate 580.

Is it rough on the road?

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. Of, and those BFGs mean the chance of a puncture is pretty low.

What’s it like off the road?

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.

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.

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. And they’ve got so much grip that you need a proper run up and plenty of room to slide the thing; a bit too tentative and the thing will just dig its claws into the dirt. And in mud they’re excellent.

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.

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.

What about ownership?

The Ranger Raptor is covered by Ford’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. The service schedule is 12 months or 15,000km. Sure it costs a lot more than Ranger Wildtrak, about $13k more but this thing can’t be replicated from aftermarket parts for that price.

What about safety features?

Standard safety equipment on the Ranger Raptor includes six airbags, ABS, stability control, hill descent control, hill launch assist, trailer sway control, rollover mitigation, lane keeping aid with lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, traffic sign recognition and two child-seat anchors.

In 2019, the Raptor copped a safety upgrade including low-speed Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Vehicle Detection and Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert (high-speed), lane-keep assist (active), and LED headlights.

MotoFomo Ford Ranger Raptor Review

2020 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, 750kg unbraked, 250kg towball Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 8.2L/100km 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Price
Practicality
Performance
Ride and Handling
Fun Factor
Safety
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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.

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