New Ford Ranger Raptor 2019 review
The new Ford Ranger Raptor is like no other pick-up currently on sale in the UK, but does that mean it's worth the near £50k asking price?
The Ford Performance-tuned Ranger Raptor has carved itself a unique place in the market simply because it’s like no other pick-up currently on sale. The engineering modifications have turned the already likeable Ranger into a seriously impressive bit of kit – both on and off-road. And while surprisingly small, the 2.0-litre diesel engine doesn’t detract from the feeling the Raptor is an easy car to fall in love with. A guilty love, if you will.
Meet the car that, in any normal universe, wouldn’t exist. The new Ford Ranger Raptor takes its attitude from the American F-150 Raptor, and its inspiration from Dakar-style rally specials. Yet you can go to your local Ford dealer and buy one tomorrow.
The Ranger is a familiar sight on UK roads – it’s the best-selling pick-up on the market, in fact – but Ford has decided to hand over the reliable workhorse to its Ford Performance division to create, well, a performance pick-up.
The pick-up market in the UK is pretty straightforward. Most are conventional, and bar a couple of posh V6 candidates like the Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes X 350 d and a handful of tough Arctic Trucks-converted offerings, there’s nothing on sale that combines the type of bonkers off-road credentials and fine on-road handling the Ranger Raptor promises. In theory, it’s pretty unique.
On paper it sounds pretty niche, too. Ford Performance has ditched the standard Raptor’s leaf springs at the back and fitted the type of suspension you’d find on a Ford Fiesta World Rally car, not a builder’s barge. So there are coil springs and a Watt’s linkage for the rear, and Fox Motorsport dampers all round. In fact, the whole chassis has been strengthened to not only improve both normal on and off-road performance, but also to toughen it up for Dakar-style driving – should you encounter such terrain on your morning commute.
Car group tests
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Park a Raptor on the street and it’ll dwarf a standard Ranger – despite not being considerably larger in raw numbers. It’s 44mm wider, 168mm longer, and 52mm taller, while the ground clearance has swollen by 51mm and the departure angles are better. But it’s the bodywork that really makes the Raptor stand out. The wheel arches are flared, housing 17-inch black wheels that wear meaty BFGoodrich tyres (the sidewalls are 20 per cent stiffer, too). The front bumper is attached to the chassis, and beneath it there’s a skid plate and specific tow hooks. The grille – just like the F-150 Raptor – has ‘Ford’ stamped on it in huge letters.
On the inside, the changes are harder to spot – but that’s to be expected, really. There’s a pair of leather and suede seats that are heated and electrically adjustable, a sports steering wheel, a smattering of blue stitched leather on the dashboard, a different instrument cluster and Ford’s decent – but not outstanding – SYNC3 infotainement system set within an 8.8-inch touchscreen.
All of these engineering modifications have resulted in the Raptor being a tad less practical than other, more conservative, Rangers. The payload capacity drops from one tonne to 680kg, and the Raptor can only pull 2.5 tonnes rather than 3.5 tonnes. All of this means the Raptor can’t be classed as a commercial vehicle (though you do pay commercial vehicle VED), so if you’re buying one for your business, you can’t claim the VAT back. Consequently the Raptor costs a rather sizeable £47,982 – about £10,000 more than a Ranger Wildtrack.
Whether that’s a price you’re willing to pay is up to you, but if you’re after the ultimate on and off-road pick-up then it probably is – just. The on-road driving manners have been completely transformed, and the new rear suspension set-up eradicates the traditional shudder and patter that’s inherent on pick-ups fitted with leaf springs.
The steering is light and surprisingly accurate for a 2.5-tonne truck, and the body doesn’t sway or lurch into corners. There are six driving modes designed to change the car’s characteristics; Sport pumps into some rather questionable V8-like artificial noise into the cabin, but on the whole the modes are worthwhile.
One particular setting that deserves some special attention is ‘Baja’. This, says Ford, is the Dakar rally mode where the engine and chassis are set-up to cover rough ground very quickly indeed. And on our off-road test route the Raptor made easy work of deeply rutted tracks, small boulders and tree stumps, while still travelling at a decent pace. It was impressive in West Sussex – probably even more so in the Sahara desert.
With such mad looks and amazing driving manners no matter the terrain, you’d be expecting the Raptor to be powered by a fat petrol engine from the Ford GT (just like the F-150 Raptor) or, at the very least, a thumping V6 diesel. Sadly it isn’t, as Ford has fitted its meanest pick-up with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine pushing out 210bhp.
Thanks to two turbos it’s certainly a strong, punchy engine and develops slightly more power than the 3.2-litre, five-cylinder diesel engine in other Ranger models. But it just doesn’t match up to the macho image. That said, this is the UK after all, and fitting a fuel-guzzling engine into a car that already has a questionable image, is probably a step too far.