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UK drive: The Ford Ranger Raptor is a pumped-up pick-up

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Ford has taken its Ranger truck to the extreme, so Darren Cassey decided to see how it could handle the rough stuff

What is it?

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Pick-up trucks aren’t quite the institution in the UK that they are in Ford’s home in America. Out there, the F-Series trucks range from huge to ludicrously, unnecessarily, where-can-you-even-drive-it massive. However, here we get the Ranger, which is rugged enough to survive farm life and plenty big enough for our narrow streets.

In F-Series trucks, the Raptor badge denotes a whopping great V6 with sports car levels of power and chassis upgrades unseen this side of a rally car. Suitably ‘murica, then.

However, the newly introduced Ranger Raptor we get is rather more subdued under the bonnet, sporting a mid-powered diesel. ‘Subdued’ is a relative term, though, because it still stands out a mile here, amping up the standard car to 11.

What’s new?

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This being a new model in the Ford Ranger line-up, pretty much everything you see is new, with the key upgrades being those that allow it to eat up any terrain at any speed. Perhaps the most important part is the new Fox Pro shock absorbers with position-sensitive damping, which smooth out the roughest roads and look fantastic in yellow, peaking out beneath the flared wheel arches.

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Other kit that’ll aid your rally raids on the countryside include a terrain management system with six selectable drive modes to alter drive settings for different surfaces, front and rear ventilated brake discs and a front aluminium skid plate.

What’s under the bonnet?

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The aforementioned diesel engine is a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel unit that makes 210bhp and, more importantly for such a car, 500Nm of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that’s been beefed up for the Raptor and gets new gearing.

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As the performance figures suggest, this thing doesn’t exactly deliver blistering pace. What it does deliver, however, is muscular low-down torque that feels like nothing could slow it down. It’s perfect for off-road driving, dispatching steep inclines with as little fuss as if it was horizontal.

What’s it like to drive?

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With chunky all-terrain tyres, those trick suspension dampers and four-wheel-drive, the Ranger Raptor is most at home adventuring where normal cars cannot. We took it green laning – which involves driving down unpaved routes in the countryside – and it was unflustered, even on the greasy clay surfaces of the South Downs. At any speeds, even when it gets bumpy, the suspension smooths the route out in carpet-like fashion.

Even when the going got particularly nerve-wracking, with sticky mud and deep puddles on a deeply rutted route, the brutish pick-up just kept ploughing through. As an aside, with mud kicked up and caking every panel, the Raptor looks fantastic.

Fortunately, out on the road, it doesn’t fall apart as you might expect an off-road focused vehicle to. It’s not the most refined at highway speeds, but road noise is surprisingly limited, meaning you can have conversations without raising your voice. It also refrains from lolloping about in corners, despite the soft suspension’s long travel.

How does it look?

Pick-up trucks have an inherent rugged cool to them, but the Raptor takes the idea and amplifies it to caricature levels – and the result is a fantastically OTT pick-up that definitely looks better the filthier it gets.

Styling changes over the standard Ranger include an F-150 Raptor-inspired grille, front bumper-mounted LED fog lights, durable sidestep boards, and chunky, flared wheel arches to accommodate the new tyres and suspension system. Our model was also fitted with optional Raptor graphics, which should be tacky, but somehow work here.

What’s it like inside?

(Ford)

The Ranger Raptor’s interior is a typical Ford affair, with customers coming to this model from the firm’s other cars or trucks likely to feel immediately at home.

For a workhorse model, Ford has bestowed a surprisingly plush interior upon the Raptor, with plenty of soft-touch materials and cosseting sports seats. The Blue Oval generally struggles to achieve a true premium feel, but here it works to give an air of justification to the circa-£50k price tag.

For a big truck, you might be surprised at the lack of everyday practicality, though. With the load bed cover items in the back are safe but chuck your weekly shop in there and you might find yourself clambering deep into the bed to retrieve loose vegetables after a drive through town. Therefore, the rear seats and footwell tend to play hosts to any cargo, which becomes problematic when you have passengers.

What’s the spec like?

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The £47,874 price tag might seem a bit steep at first, but Ford goes some way to justify it with a hefty standard equipment list.

With regards to what’ll keep you out of trouble on the rough stuff, there are chunky all-terrain tyres, Fox Pro shock absorbers, aluminium skid plates, ventilated disc brakes front and rear, four off-road tow hooks, and selectable drive modes to optimise the electronics for the road surface.

Inside there’s a Raptor-specific suede trim with heated seats, leather steering wheel, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav, and a rear-view camera.

Other equipment of note includes bi-xenon headlights, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, privacy glass, a power converter and various collision avoidance systems. The only option added to our test car was the Raptor decal pack, costing £900.

Verdict

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Truth be told, the standard Ranger could probably do 90 per cent of what the Raptor is capable of. However, it’s that extra 10 per cent that not only makes the pumped-up pick-up such an enticing prospect, but fully justified in its hefty price tag.

If you’re looking for something with more off road capabilities than you’ll ever likely need, which also looks great and packs plenty of creature comforts, the Ford Ranger Raptor is all the truck you could ever ask for. Just don’t expect blistering straight line performance from that diesel engine…

  • Model as tested: Ford Ranger Raptor
  • Price: £48,774
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-diesel
  • Power: 210bhp
  • Torque: 500Nm
  • Max speed: 106mph
  • 0-60mph: 10 seconds
  • MPG: 31.7
  • Emissions: 233g/km CO2

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