Ford Ranger Raptor: What you should know about NZ's latest high performance ute
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We’ve finally driven one of the most highly anticipated new cars of the year – the Ford Ranger Raptor.
Ford invited Driven to Darwin, Australia and an enormous 210,000 hectare station to put the Raptor through its paces on dirt, gravel, rocks, over jumps and through rivers.
After our first drive, these are the five thing you need to know about the Raptor before it arrives in New Zealand very soon.
Compared to the current top-spec Ranger Wildtrack, a lot.
Starting from the bottom; the Ranger Raptor is built on a unique frame – designed to take a lot more punishment during high speed off-road driving.
The front accommodates strengthened shock absorber towers, while the rear houses a new bespoke coil over suspension setup with an integrated Watt’s linkage.
The dampers are manufactured by Fox Racing Shox, and according to Ford, cost ‘half a V8'.
Holding them in place are the forged aluminium upper arms and cast aluminium lower arms allowing greater suspension travel.
The braking system has also been updated. At the front, twin-piston callipers have been increased by 9.5mm in diameter. And at the rear axle you'll find a second set of discs.
The Ranger Raptor features unique design cues inside and out that Ford ensure are functionally driven.
At the front, a new grille takes its cues from the F-150 Raptor with block FORD lettering on the grille.
A frame mounted front-bumper system is designed to offer durability. The front bumper also includes new LED fog lamps with functional air-curtain ducts, which help to reduce air resistance of the body.
The arched front fenders not only look tough, but resist dents and dings often associated with off-road usage. The flared shape of the fenders are required for the long travel suspension and oversized tires.
Vehicle stance is noticeably bigger from every angle, standing at 1873mm tall, 2180mm wide and 5398mm long, with wider front and rear tracks at 1710mm.
The step boards were designed specifically to prevent rock spray from hitting the rear of the truck and the holes have been designed to drain sand, mud and snow.
At the rear, a modified rear bumper comes with an integrated tow bar and two recovery hooks rated at 3.8 tonnes. Updated styling to the rear includes flush sensor bezels and specially packaged and styled tow connectors.
Inside the cabin, the seats are specially designed for off-road high speed support, while also providing superior on-road comfort withsuede on the seats for additional grip.
When getting behind the wheel, Ranger Raptor cockpit includes blue stitching and leather accents. The steering wheel is distinctively different with magnesium paddle shifters, perforated leather hand grip sections and ‘On-centre’ marker at the top-middle of the wheel to let you know where the centre is. The steering wheel is finished off with the Raptor logo embossed into the spoke bezel.
Rather controversially, the Ranger Raptor is powered by a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel producing 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque. It's paired with a recallibrated version of the 10-speed automatic from the Ford Mustang. Accelerates to 100km/h in 10.4-seconds.
Although capacity is smaller than the current range-topping 3.2-litre Ranger Wildtrack, it produces more power and torque. It's a new engine, and is constructed with added durability and performance through upgraded pistons and an improved temperature range
Why does it tow less?
The Ranger Raptor's towing capacity drops from 3.5-tonne to 2.5-tonne compared to the Wildtrak, but it's got nothing to do with the engine. It's all to do with the softer rear end and the Fox shocks underneath. More rear pliancy when it comes to hooning around is traded for towing capacity, and payload which drops from 900kg to 750kg
The Ranger isn't the only 'downsized' Raptor. America's famed F-150 Raptor has also had its engine snipped over the years, having moved from a V8 to Ford's twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 for the current model.
Even though the Ranger Raptor's new engine is way smaller, fuel consumption over the bigger 3.2-litre only falls from 8.7L/100km to 8.2L/100km. Not much of a difference, and that's mainly because of the Raptor's extra weight
The Ranger Raptor is one of the most capable cars off-road ever made. At high speeds it soaks up bumps like they're not there, and at low speeds its clever four-wheel drive system digs in effectively. It is in another league off-road compared to the existing competition
The Fox shocks are the biggest change. They're one of the biggest points of technical investment on the Raptor. They're engineered to display different characteristics at different points of compression ("Position Sensitive behaviour"), and are most impressive in regards to rebound damping. When the Raptor takes a big hit, there's very little in the way of 'rebound'. The Raptor simply maintains the compression ("Hold zone") before easing out of it smoothly. A Watt's linkage in the rear is also part of the changes.
They're paired with 285 BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres. Ground clearance, approach angle, departure angle, and ramp over angle all go up thanks to the tyre and suspension changes.
There have been alterations to the Ranger's chassis. The side rails have been stiffened, and the rear modified to provide bracing for the full-size (larger than usual) spare wheel.
There are several drive modes, including the full-noise 'Baja' mode. This mode is designed to simulate the high-speed lunacy of Baja rallying, and in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive is a sideways riot allowing for plenty of controllable slippage.
Look out for our full Ford Ranger Raptor launch report in Driven and The Weekend Herald tomorrow