- Good for off-road performance driving
- Excellent handling
- Very expensive to buy and tax
- Not very economical
- Low cargo capacity
If you’re unfamiliar with the Raptor, let us enlighten you.
The Ranger, first and foremost, is a pick-up truck. While it’s smaller than the monstrously sized famous American F-150 Lightning that Ford also makes, it’s also no slouch and takes inspiration from its supersized cousin.
The Raptor is the ‘super’ version of it (yes, such things do exist) in the same way that the Honda Civic has its Type-R and Ford itself has the ST moniker for its road cars.
So, think of it as the hot hatch of… er… pick-up trucks.
It features a double-cab (truck speak for four doors), so it can accommodate five occupants. And, although we said it’s “smaller”, at 5,258mm long, it’s 100mm or so longer than a long-wheelbase Range Rover.
You also get a more sophisticated suspension with racing shock absorbers, enormous 33-inch tyres (riding on 17-inch rims), which raise the ride height by five centimetres, and a 10-speed automatic gearbox taken from the Mustang.
Indeed, that is just the tip of the iceberg, as the full list of upgrades over the standard Ranger is so enormous that Ford will have made a new version by the time you’ve read it.
Disappointingly, the one thing that doesn’t get an upgrade is the engine. Instead, it’s got the same 2.0-litre turbodiesel as the rest of the range, producing 213PS, which will upset those wanting to drive through the Nevada desert (or Cumbria) in a thumping V8.
Zero to 62mph is achieved in 10.5-seconds.
The Raptor comes in white by default, but red, dark grey, black, and blue are also available for extra money, while you also get a premium interior.
On The Road
The diesel seems an odd engine choice. Yes, it’s all about fuel economy and environmental friendliness these days. But the Raptor will be bought by so-called ‘gearheads’ who really want a pick-up truck – and an American one at that. So, they’ll want a big engine without caring if it does four miles to the gallon.
As a powertrain, the diesel isn’t bad. It doesn’t sound that nice (few diesels do), but it’s a bi-turbo, with a smaller turbocharger for low-rev grunt and a larger one for higher revs.
It accelerates well off the line but doesn’t go like a muscle car. And, when you’re driving along, it leaves you feeling something’s missing (like several extra cylinders).
You’d imagine the 10-speed automatic would constantly be shifting, and, to some extent, it is. But it's smooth and well-refined – plus, it has a manual mode, which you might want to try out now and then.
The top speed is 112mph, which is okay. We didn’t expect it to reach 200mph or even 155mph, but we imagine some Texans may be disappointed by this.
In truth, measuring the Raptor by its on-road ability is missing the point. This motor is built for the rough stuff – driving in the desert rather than on roads that run through it.
To get there, the on-road ride is where the Raptor excels. It is ridiculously comfortable. Of course, it helps when the walls of your tyres are built like a monster truck, but the endless number of suspension, damper, and spring modifications that Ford has made to the Raptor version means it's absorbing.
And this bodes well when tackling the rough stuff. The chassis is well-tuned, and, despite the lack of power from the engine, it’s still responsive enough to make good progress.
You can flick between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, plus four-wheel drive with a low-range gearbox for maximum off-road grip. Meanwhile, hill descent control is also included for navigating rocky inclines.
There are six other driving modes depending on what surface you’re on. Normal, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock – and our personal favourite, Baja mode. This latter setting is named after the annual Mexican Baja 1000 off-road race – which maximises your speed off-road if you decide to head to a beach – or somewhere similar.
It's excellent off-road, and on the road, its handling is pretty good, too.
Despite the spongy tyres, the body roll in the corners is well controlled. But the steering isn’t great, with a limited amount of feedback, while the brakes lack feel, even though they work well.
Overall, it's arguably the best handling pick-up you can buy in all scenarios.
All pick-up trucks tend to look about the same, but while the standard Ranger gets a more modest look, the Raptor gets a makeover.
The blackened grille has American supersized ‘FORD’ written along it (something you don't get on the standard, more modest Rangers), and it has more presence compared with the non-Raptor siblings in the range.
You get ‘RAPTOR’ stickers down the sides, too, which bring out your inner child as they remind you of a typical logo from the opening titles of a 1990s superhero cartoon.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Thanks to its high driving position, you get a good view of the road ahead – and the thing is so wide you’ll be grateful for such a vantage point.
We expected the interior to look a bit more utilitarian, but it looks just like any Ford road car might.
It's nothing special - but it's functional and pleasant enough, if a tad dated. You get an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with SatNav. However, you get analogue dials, unlike most of Ford’s car line-up, which is gradually going digital. You do, at least, get a digital readout for the trip computer, though.
You also get electronically folding heated door mirrors, a heated windscreen, privacy glass, keyless entry and start, LED headlights, day running lights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
A soft-touch top covers the dash, but apart from that, it’s made from hard plastics. We'd usually criticise the latter, but, in a pick-up truck, it's understandable given it's likely to be subject to more punishment than your average family car.
Space & Practicality
There’s a decent amount of space in the cabin.
Getting comfortable is simple enough, while the sports seats are absorbing.
The legroom in the second row isn't outstanding, but there's plenty of headroom. You can fit three adults in the back, but only if they don't mind being squashed together.
With no boot as such, the cargo capacity is measured in kilos rather than litres. It’s just 620kg in the Raptor, which is very low. Other Ranger variants can manage over 1,000 kilograms.
It can, at least, tow up to 2,500kg, but the other variants can manage up to 3,500kg.
The fuel economy is 31.7mpg, which isn't great for something that has a 2.0-litre diesel in it.
It also produces 233g/km of CO2, which isn’t fantastic, either.
And the bad news keeps coming because it costs well over fifty grand to buy.
And, if you're thinking, 'but I can get low-rate company car tax because it'll qualify as a light commercial vehicle'… it doesn’t. It must have a load capacity of 1,040kg or higher.
At 620kg, it’s way off.
Quality & Reliability
Because it’s a niche vehicle, the Ranger doesn’t generally feature in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys.
Historically, reliability hasn't been Ford's strong point in recent years. However, more recent models of its cars seem to be bucking the trend. So, we can't do much other than hope that Ranger Raptor does well.
You’ll get a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard. Ford offers extended warranties, too, but the basic three-year offering is inferior to many of its challengers.
Safety & Security
The Ford Ranger hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP since 2012. But it was rated at five stars then and scored 96 per cent for adult occupants, 86 per cent for children and 71 per cent for safety assists.
Of course, a lot has changed in ten years, so we’d be intrigued to see how well it would do if re-tested today.
The Raptor should be safer still, as thanks to all the fiddling Ford has done with the chassis and suspension, it's more robust than the standard Ranger.
You also get lane-keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and electronic stability control, plus seven airbags and a rear-view camera.
It's challenging to make a case for the Ford Ranger Raptor as a sensible purchase.
The Raptor’s low cargo capacity and reduced towing capability mean that, as a commercial vehicle, it’s not really in the running. But, as a family vehicle, few people will be after a pick-up truck in the first place, either.
It’s expensive to buy and tax and the whole point of the Raptor is that it’s a king of off-roading. So even if you do want a pick-up truck, there’s little point in having a Raptor unless you’re going to be on very rough stuff most of the time.
This is a vehicle for the enthusiast, then. Someone who wants to enjoy themselves and doesn’t care about anything else. Which makes the choice of engine even more curious.
Thankfully, there’s a new Ranger – and, with it, a new Raptor – coming soon, with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol, freshened looks and an overhauled interior design.
What we can say is that this Raptor is full of character and because it’s such a niche vehicle, it’s undeniably lovable.