DRIVEN: Ford Ranger Raptor

What happens when you take one of the most popular pick-up trucks and make it faster, meaner and more capable offroad? The Ranger Raptor is that result. It’s a Ford Ranger but not as you know it.

I’ve been a fan of the current generation Ford Ranger ever since I first drove one back in 2012. I’ve always felt that it was one the better pick-ups for someone who wanted a combination of SUV practicality and the rugged nature of a pick-up. In recent years they’ve refined the Ranger and I still stand by that comment. But it’s never been truly exciting – Until now.

The Raptor was never really meant for the UK market. Originally pitched at the Australian and New Zealand markets, the Raptor gained instant international attention. Over here in the UK we saw the fact that it was right hand drive and wondered why Ford wasn’t bringing it here. We protested, banged our fists into the dirt and Ford listened. They would bring the Raptor, and its bulging arches to these fair isles.

What makes the Ranger Raptor different?

The Raptor is more at home in Baja than Bognor but that is the main appeal of this thing. It looks like nothing else on sale in the UK. It has wider, beefier arches, a meaner front end treatment, bigger rugged tyres, large bespoke side rails and most importantly, stickers showing off the Raptor name. It’s no shrinking violet. In fact it’ll look bigger than anything else in Tesco’s car park and it’s all the better for it. Half of the enjoyment of the Raptor is the way it looks. It has so much presence and it really brings out your inner child. In fact it brings out most people’s inner child as it gets so much attention.

Underneath that almost cartoon-ish bodywork is where the real money has been spent. The Raptor is packing rather fancy shock absorbers by Fox Racing. These are a blessing and a curse depending on what you want to use the Ranger for. The load carrying capacity is significantly less on the Raptor for example but on the plus side you can literally jump this car. It is designed to carry speed on bumpy rutted roads and even take a serious landing and just shrug it off. That leads me onto how the Raptor drives…

What is the Ranger Raptor like to drive?

Those expensive shocks make the Raptor much more compliant on the road than its lesser brethren despite the chunkier tyres from BF Goodrich. The rear doesn’t have the same hop & skip feeling that most pick-ups do with an empty load bed and the ride quality is frankly surprising. Unsurprisingly it makes easy work of potholes, speed bumps and pretty much everything else on the public highway. Accelerate hard in damp conditions and it’ll quickly spin those off-road tyres so despite this being from Ford Performance, don’t expect it be a go-kart.

Power doesn’t come from a big V8 or a turbo V6 like its stateside bigger brother but instead from a four-pot turbo diesel. It pumps out a fairly average 197bhp and will hit sixty in just over ten seconds. Hardly going to set the world on fire but after a week with the 2.5t truck, it doesn’t need big power to be entertaining. In fact big power might be almost scary in this platform on UK roads. Despite this it doesn’t feel slow for the type of vehicle. I’m not saying it’s fast but fairly adequate.

You ride high as you’d expect. Higher than pretty much anyone on the road this side of an actual truck. It gives you that imperious feeling that is normally reserved for the most modified of off road vehicles. The interior is fairly standard Ranger. There are some extra bits of trim and details that remind you that you’re in something a little special. It’s not exactly luxury but it’s far from roughing it too.

Can it do mud and stuff?

Well yes. You can probably tell from our pictures that we spent most of the time with the Raptor getting it dirty. Normally I would photography a press car as soon as it arrives to ensure the car is as clean as possible in the pictures. The Raptor just looks better dirty. Now Norfolk isn’t known for its mountainous terrain but there are a few public roads that do provide a bit of a challenge and the Ranger handled them with ease. It made it so easy but I can imagine that a fast undulating field or green lane would also be no trouble for this car. Those Fox Racing shocks will take a hell of a beating but also allow the car to perform at speed and give you the confidence to push on.

There’s a huge amount of ground clearance meaning that you’ll struggle to find somewhere in the UK that would stop the Raptor in its tracks. Green lanes, off road adventures, muddy fields, rocky terrain – they’re all there for the taking.

Conclusion

The Ford Ranger Raptor is the quite easily the coolest and most capable standard pick-up available right now. If you’re tradesman or need it for lugging large loads then look elsewhere. This is a practical toy. Sadly at around £49,000 it isn’t cheap and isn’t for everyone. But if this is your thing then you’ll be very happy indeed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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