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Ford Ranger Raptor review: This is what happens when you let the Ford Performance division mess about with a pick-up truck. Ben Griffin headed to Morocco to drive all 5,363mm and 3.1 tonnes of it.

It would be easy to assume the Ford Ranger Raptor gets its name from the lethal dinosuar with ridiculously short arms, but it’s in actual fact a nod to the lethal jet fighter.

This would be no less apt, however, as the Ranger Raptor is the work of the Ford Performance division and is a road-legal nod to the Baja rally. A gruelling off-road race in California that takes no prisoners.

As such, the Range Raptor is noticeably different from the standard Ranger, which arrives the same time in 2020, but not in every area you would expect.

Ford was kind enough to invite me to the European launch in Morocco, where I would get to drive it across Baja-inspired terrain such as lofty sand dunes, bumpy beaches and thin rock paths.

So I got on a plane, flew to Essaouira and spent two days driving like an absolute lunatic (all for your benefit, obviously) to see what £48,000 of ‘bad-ass’ pick-up truck is really like.

Ford Ranger Raptor review: What’s it all about?

Ford Ranger Raptor front three-quarters

Driving off-road at high speed is what the Ford Ranger Raptor is all about. To do that, it has been given Fox shock absorbers, 32 per cent more front damper travel, a 150mm wider track, 283mm of ground clearance and bespoke coilovers. Much of the rear end suspension system is new.

It also has 33-inch BF Goodrich bespoke tyres and the brake calipers are 20 per cent larger in diameter compared with the standard Ranger pick-up and are linked to 332mm ventilated discs at the front and rear.

Underneath all the extra-rugged bits and bobs is a unique reinforced chassis frame. Having run the Baja rally in a standard Ranger, Ford was able to work out where extra structural strengh was needed and beefed things up accordingly.

A new bi-turbo 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel with 210bhp, meanwhile, stands in for the 3.2-litre DuraTorq. Despite having a relatively low displacement, it generates generates 500Nm of torque from 1,750rpm and is also more powerful. 0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds and the top speed is 106mph.

A smaller turbo provides low-down grunt for low speeds, while a larger one deals with delivering peak power at higher speeds, a system that helps propel it from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds and then on to 106mph. Not fast on road, then, but adequate for off it.

Just to protect all the underside bits from damage, the Ford Ranger Raptor also features a new bash plate, which is made of high-strengh steel and 2.3mm thick. This is in addition to other underside protection.

As for getting traction and maintaining it, the Ford Ranger Raptor has a Terrain Management system. Each one is setup to tackle specific terrain types such as snow or sand, while the Baja mode is tweaked there for when you want high-speed off-roading.

Making the Ford Ranger Raptor meatier is done through the way it looks, too. An F150 Raptor-inspired grille and the sheer size of the thing (to Europeans, that is) helps make it an imposing beast. More T-Rex than Velociraptor, it must be said.

Ford Ranger Raptor review: How does it drive?

Ford Ranger Raptor on sand dunes

In a sedate road setting, it’s more car-like than expect – a trend seen with other Fords. It rolls less than you would assume in the corners, while the steering makes up for being a little muted by being nicely weighted and direct.

For a car that is more than 3 tonnes in weight, just shy of 5,400mm long and designed to withstand serious punishment, it’s remarkable how civilised the Ford Ranger Raptor comes across. The refinement is decent, while the ride smooths over your usual array of undulations.

Then there’s an EAT 10-speed automatic borrowed from the F150, which gets on with changing gear without making a song and dance about it. It’s smooth more often than not.

Things do come apart a little when you need to use the brakes, however. Even with more braking power, it’s really not a car that you want to overcook a corner in on public roads, as the stopping time can be a little intimidating.

With that said, you will probably want to push the Ford Ranger Raptor hard because it’s one of the most graceful cars when it comes to oversteer. Using the more tail-happy Baja mode or with ESC off, the sizable back-end is happy to slide about playfully and it’s remarkably easy to correct.

You can actually spend your entire time in the 2H mode, but the all-wheel drive 4H and 4L for scary ascents and descents make the Ford Ranger Raptor shine. Its ability to go up and down steep obstacles, even when covered in sand, is unlike few vehicles.

Honestly, I was carving through sand dunes and rocky roads at ludicrous speeds to the point it was shaking me and my camera gear into a plastic smoothie, but it kept on going like a succour for punishment. More speed is best when tackling sand dunes, it turns out.

It helps that the Ford Ranger Raptor sits 283mm away from the ground and that the front and rear overhangs are 32.5 and 24 degrees, respectively. And don’t think for one second it will struggle in water because the wading depth is a generous 850mm.

Where the Ford Ranger Raptor falls down a little is that, given how impressive it is at off-roading and how mental it is to look at, you end up wishing it had an equally mental engine. A big V8 or perhaps something borrowed from the Focus RS with increased torque.

On the road, it makes progress at a decent, if boringly linear, pace. But the sound of the four-cylinder diesel is too quiet. What kind of T-Rex meows?

But then it does mean that you can, according to Ford, achieve just under 32mpg (WLTP) and CO2 emissions are a palatable 233g/km. It also means you can go much further on a tank, which is no bad thing if you plan to leave the safety of civilisation behind.

Despite these shortcomings, the Ford Ranger Raptor is still bags of fun to drive and remarkably comfortable, thanks to supportive seats and various useful mod-cons, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Ford Ranger Raptor review: Is the interior a bit Jurassic, though?

Ford Ranger Raptor in sand

Actually, no. If you have sat in a Ford recently, it will feel familiar. It’s just you’re much higher up and other road users look small and pathetic. Just the fact you have to step up onto the side plates and lever yourself in emphasises the utility, go-anywhere feel.

The layout is reminiscent of a Ford Focus RS. Sensibly laid out but ultimately non-descript and lacking much jazz to separate it from your standard Ranger. Sync 3 is also looking dated and the some of the plastics are cheap to the touch. Easy to clean, mind you, which is no bad thing in a car designed to visit the muddy outdoors.

Being a long vehicle means that, in addition to being capable of holding a jet ski or motocross bike in the pick-up bay, you get decent leg room in the back. Headroom is similarly generous, making it good for multiple passengers or a dog.

Ford Ranger Raptor review: Price and standard equipment?

Ford Ranger Raptor cockpit interior

The options list is very long for the entry-level Ford Ranger, which starts from £20,845 before VAT. But for the top-spec £48,784 Ranger Raptor, you only need to pay extra for some decals, which look a bit dull to be honest.

You can expect the likes of privacy glass, a rear-view camera (useful in a car that dwarfs your average parking space), lane-keeping aid, 17-inch Dyno alloys, Bi-Xenon headlights, daytime running lights, cool box, keyless entry and start, heated seats and leather.

For those who like to tow things, meanwhile, all of that stuff such as the trailer tow hitch and 13-pin socket is included. Useful given that the Ford Ranger Raptor can tow 2,500kg of braked weight (and tow a lot more out of trouble should the need arise).

As for colours, you can have a grey or blue, which makes life simple. If it helps, the blue makes much more of an impact. But neither will hide it very well, given the sheer size of it.

Ford Ranger Raptor review: Should I buy one, then?

Ignoring the fact Ford could have gone a little crazier with the engine, the Ranger Raptor makes it surprisingly easy to fall for a pick-up truck. And I say that as someone who typically avoids them like the plague.

It’s comfortable and practical enough to be usable in day-to-day life, providing you can put up with struggling to park at your local supermarket, while it looks like a monster and drives like one.

There’s just nothing comparable if the pick-up bay is vital to you, which is why those with £50,000 to burn and a burning desire to drive off-road like a complete lunatic have no other option. Especially if you can find somewhere like the Moroccan countryside to use it.

Fortunately, it’s a bloody enjoyable option. A bit of a dinosaur in a time when the world needs saving, admittedly, but then there are very few vehicles I’d rather be in when the s*** inevitably hits the fan.

Thanks to Ford UK for the invitation. Expect my video review very soon and more words on Recombu and DriveTribe!

Ford Ranger Raptor review: A Rapturous Reception?
Built like a tank and immensely capable off-road, the Ford Ranger Raptor is a desirable monster of a machine you would buy with your heart and not your head.
Performance
Handling
Enjoyment
Cool-factor
Usability
The Good
  • Looks epic
  • Off-roading beast
  • Not so bad on fuel
The Bad
  • Pricey
  • Good luck parking
  • Divisive engine
4.1The Score

About The Author

Editor-in-Chief

Ben Griffin is a motoring journalist and founder of the website and YouTube channel, A Tribe Called Cars. He is also a contributor at DriveTribe.

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