Ford Ranger Raptor review – go big or go home

Ford Ranger Raptor review – go big or go home
Ford Ranger Raptor review – go big or go home

Click on the “performance” section of Ford UK’s website and you’re given five vehicles to choose from. There’s the hot hatch Fiesta and Focus STs, the muscle car Mustang and the full-on supercar GT. Plus a pick-up truck.

But it’s not a mistake by some web developer, there really is a version of the brand’s Ranger pick-up that’s been tinkered with by the Ford Performance team.

Launched in a flurry of words like badass, awe-inspiring and extreme, this is a Ranger developed to be something completely different. Its chassis, suspension and steering are tuned for racing and the standard 2.2 or 3.2 diesels have been ditched in favour of a high-performance 2.0-litre unit.

It’s not an understated thing. From the deep sidewall and chunky off-road tread of the tyres to the enormous grippy alloy sidesteps, huge decals and towering Raptor grille, everything about it is big and mean and there’s no mistaking it for a standard Ranger for even a second.

The 33-inch wheel/tyre combo is bolstered by a 5cm suspension lift and a track that’s 15cm wider than a standard Ranger, and a front skid plate and wheel arch extensions add to its imposing appearance.

Ford Ranger Raptor
(Photo: Ford)

The closest thing looks-wise I’ve driven to it is the Arctic Trucks version of the Isuzu D-Max, which featured a 35-inch wheel/tyre combo and a whole body lift to create its beefy image while the Ranger manages to be just as intimidating without any of that, and promises a different approach to off-roading.

Ford describes the Raptor as a breed apart from regular pick-ups – a thoroughbred desert racer designed to cope with the most extreme lifestyles. Realistically, not many buyers dropping £50k on a truck are likely to go racing across the Sahara but Ford Performance have engineered the Raptor to make sure they can if they want.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Price:  £47,874 (£48,474 as tested)
Engine:  2.0-litre, four-cylinder, twin-turbo, diesel
Power:  210bhp
Torque:  369lb/ft
Transmission:  10-speed automatic
Top speed:  106mph
0-62mph:  10 seconds
Economy:  31.7mpg
CO2 emissions:  233g/km

The chassis has been reinforced with high-strength steel to withstand heavy impacts and high-speed abuse and the unique Fox suspension developed specifically to offer control and sufficient damping. The purpose-designed shocks are thicker and longer than in the standard Ranger, with significantly greater travel to cope with all sorts of terrain and driving and there are coilovers and a Watt’s linkage in the rear rather than traditional leaf-springs.

Ford Ranger Raptor
(Photo: Ford)

It all makes for a hugely capable machine that will shrug off pretty much anything the UK or anywhere else in the world can throw at it. What’s almost as impressive is the way this muscle-bound freak behaves on the road. That trick suspension brings massive improvements in refinement and control. The ride is firmer than a standard Ranger or the AT35 but not uncomfortable and body control is far superior. The crash and shimmy normal found in a pick-up is also significantly reduced, making this a surprisingly calm cruiser.

With 210bhp, the Raptor still isn’t massively powerful but the twin-turbo 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine pumps out 369lb/ft of torque and the drive modes and 10-speed transmission have been tuned to be sportier than a standard truck. We’re still talking 0-62mph in 10 seconds but the different “terrain management” options range from rock crawling in low-range four-wheel-drive to lively rear-drive sport mode for “spirited” on-road driving and Baja mode for high-speed off-road shenanigans.

Ford Ranger Raptor
(Photo: Ford)

While there have been massive changes in the mechanical side of things, other areas of the Ranger are much the same as lesser trucks. There are some nice Raptor-specific interior touches, such as branded suede-trimmed seats, a racing steering wheel with a centre line marker and big magnesium shift paddles. But the rest of the cabin features the same scratchy plastics and dull trim as other Rangers. You do at least get the plenty of convenience, assistance and safety equipment for your near-£50,000. That price is important because, thanks to the suspension changes, the Raptor’s payload is reduced meaning it can’t be classed as a commercial vehicle and buyers will have to stump up the full whack VAT.

Ford Ranger Raptor interior
(Photo: Ford)

That makes the Raptor a very expensive plaything, especially given how hard it will be to find space to properly exploit its abilities. Yet, despite the fact it’s expensive, silly and largely unnecessary, there’s something unavoidably appealing about the Ranger with its tough looks and race-ready boasts.

Ford Ranger Raptor
(Photo: Ford)

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