Friday 15th January 2021
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Driven: Ford Ranger Raptor. Image by Ford.

Driven: Ford Ranger Raptor
We said it at launch and we’ll say it again: this vehicle makes no sense whatsoever. And yet it is utterly, utterly brilliant.

 



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Ford Ranger Raptor

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: everything about it adds up to the most charismatic pick-up by a country mile, and clearly one of the best four-wheel-drive vehicles you could buy

Not so good: wrong engine, wrong gearbox, wrong price tag... and yet, we simply don't care

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Ranger Raptor
Price: Ranger range from £20,845 (excluding VAT); Raptor from £49,324.64 (including VAT as Raptor cannot be registered as a CV due to its max payload), car as tested £49,504
Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: ten-speed automatic, selectable all-wheel drive with transfer 'box and rear diff lock
Body style: four-door performance pick-up
CO2 emissions: 233g/km (VED Band 226-255: £1,815 in year one, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 31.7mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Power: 213hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm
Load-bed max payload: 620kg

Our view:

If you're of a sensitive persuasion and you think the idea of a 2.5-tonne vehicle which measures 5.4 metres long, nearly 2.2 metres wide and which stands almost 1.9 metres tall with 283mm of ground clearance is abhorrent, you'd better look away now. If you're a business owner wanting some sound advice on commercial vehicles (CV), this isn't the review for you. If you're financially savvy and you meticulously look after all of the pennies, you're going to find the conclusion of this article almost offensive.

In short, if you're looking for any sort of objective standpoint on the merits of the Ford Ranger Raptor or otherwise, you really have come to the wrong place. As we said when we first drove this brutal behemoth in its natural environment, namely the fringes of the Sahara in Morocco last year, it is a pick-up truck that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in Britain. It looks overblown, overpriced, underpowered and underspecified in terms of what it can take in its load bed. It will not be as useful as a decent SUV costing the same amount of money. It is not designed for any environments that you'll find in the UK, as we're notably bereft of areas of semi-arid wasteland (unless you count Slough).

Somehow, though, we find that we are forcing ourselves to give the Raptor anything less than full marks for this critique. Is this charisma at work? Is this that ill-defined quality known as 'character' working its magic, a quality which reviewers all too easily apportion to flawed machines to defend the fact that they've erroneously fallen for such cars? Maybe. Or maybe it's just the fact that a whopping great truck that sits on bubble-like tyres and which is named after the most vicious of dinosaurs/predatory birds appeals to the inner child in all of us. It's about this point where you can inject your own 'Tonka Truck' metaphor into proceedings, if you so wish.

As we said in the 'Not so good' list at the top of this piece, beyond the obvious flaws that the ultimate Ranger possesses, we're even more convinced - after another 565 miles of evaluation conducted behind the Ford's lofty wheel, across the full varietal gamut of the UK's roads network - that the engine and gearbox on the Raptor are hopelessly wrong. Quite why Ford felt that a turbodiesel with just 213hp needs a ten-speed gearbox to help it along is beyond us. For 2,510kg of mass, this paucity of power, surfeit of ratios and a relatively modest 500Nm of torque simply isn't enough. The Raptor isn't fast, no matter how much you mash the throttle pedal to the bulkhead nor how much artificial noise it pipes into the cabin to try and convince you that it is scooting along. And if you're think we're being harsh, look at the stats of the 3.2-litre Wildtrak model and you'll see the Raptor is only ahead by 13hp and 30Nm.

Fine enough, Ford, if you're gonna fit the engine from the now-departed Ford Edge flagship, that's all well and good, but why not keep that vehicle's eight-speed transmission? Or, if you were completely determined to bolt on the ten-speed gearbox from a Mustang, why not tune the Raptor's 2.0-litre biturbo unit up from its previous 238hp/500Nm figures, to something like 250-260hp and 550-580Nm? So that - despite its 'mere' four cylinders - it could take on and compete with the V6 likes of the Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes X 350 d (see the 'Alternatives' below) when it comes to on-road performance?

But no. And, given you're paying as near as makes no difference £50,000 for the privilege of all this (in our test car's case, the base price of £49,324.64 plus £180 on the Colorado Red paint), you start to wonder if you've lost your marbles in liking the Raptor at all. Oh, don't get any ideas about flimsily claiming you're running a 'Dinosaur-Management-Related Theme Park' and that you want the Raptor as a CV, hoping that you can scrub the VAT off its list price. You can't. It only carries 620kg in its load bed, which means it does not qualify for the tax breaks that a one-tonne pick-up (like any other model in the Ford Ranger line-up, for instance) would enjoy. Also, don't expect decent economy from its diesel engine: it turned in a best of 31mpg running down the motorways to Gatwick Airport and returned an overall 27.5mpg, no better than the 28mpg average we saw from those aforementioned V6 turbodiesel trucks we mentioned earlier.

So. Wrong engine. Wrong gearbox. Wrong price. Wrong market targeting, as it cannot be registered as a CV. Wrong part of the world to sell it in (conspicuous lack of deserts). Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. And yet, we cannot tell you how much, how with every fibre of our being, we adore the Ranger Raptor.

That it looks magnificent should be obvious to anyone with functioning eyes. The Ranger has always been one of the handsomest pick-ups of its type, perhaps one of the reasons it's Europe's top-selling truck, but to puff out its arches, give it the F-150 Raptor front grille, splatter 'Raptor' graphics all over it and then sit the whole confection on a set of grey 17-inch alloys wrapped in 285/70R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tyres is plainly a work of genius. It looks tremendous in any colour you care to mention, including our tester's Colorado Red, and then you clamber inside and are greeted with the finest interior in the pick-up market. True, in the wider context of all 50-grand machines, it remains a cabin that is perhaps lacking in the apogee of material finishing, but the general quality and look of the thing is unsurpassed in this particular class. Not even by Merc and VW.

To drive the Raptor, though, is to be utterly seduced by it. It's one of the most surprising vehicles you'll encounter today, mainly because of the difference between your expectations on refinement when you look at it (they're low) and then what you experience once it's on the move. We weren't massively blown away by the ride quality of the Raptor over in North Africa, but here in Britain its high-spec, long-travel suspension and thick-sidewalled tyres result in what is easily the most comfortable pick-up of the lot to travel in - indeed, it is miles ahead of even its most civilised opposition in this regard, which'll be that Amarok and X-Class we've already talked about.

Up and down motorways, the Raptor shows a classy comportment that is completely at odds with its bullish exterior aesthetic. It even limits wind noise and tyre roar to a level you wouldn't credit it for, given how high it sits off the road and how big its contact patches are. Joining us for testing a week after its Focus ST Estate stablemate, the Raptor's steering initially felt dim-witted after the darty immediacy of the 280hp wagon, but in truth it's a pretty well-geared set-up for the size/height of vehicle you're dealing with, because you don't want to be making too many sudden 'flick-flack' movements on the tiller. The brakes are strong and have good pedal progression. The ten-speed 'box might have far too many cogs but it actually slushes shifts between the gears completely unobtrusively, while it can also be manually operated by some truly lovely metal paddles on the steering wheel.

And then there's the playfulness of the chassis. The Raptor wants to oversteer at any given opportunity, but far from being spiky and terrifying, it'll break traction and balletically slide the rear at speeds that are almost comically slow. Which means you feel like a hero driving it, even if your wheelmanship talents aren't really that sharp. For handling on road, it's about exactly what you need it to be, and it's wonderfully invigorating and involving to steer, too.

It is, bluntly, a riot to drive. A riot to look at. A riot to climb all the way up into its cab and sit there, lording it over every other road user this side of a Mercedes Sprinter. A riot to stash it in car parks and make all the vehicles around it look as if they've been hit with a shrink ray. The Raptor is a joyful creation to put a ginormous smile on your face, each and every time you drive it and each and every time you clap eyes on it, and - frankly - that's a commodity that's all too rare in the current age.

About the only way Ford could improve this Ranger is to go loopy and put in the 2.3-litre petrol four-banger from the Focus ST. Or maybe even the 5.0-litre V8 from a Mustang Bullitt. Or that 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, which powers the Ranger's F-150 namesake in the States and also the mighty GT supercar, too; admittedly, it might need a bit of detuning, but the principle is sound.

Of course, none of these 'transplants' will happen. Which means that, as such, the turbodiesel Ford Ranger Raptor remains undeniably nonsensical in the UK. And, do you know what? It is all the better for that fact. This is a fabulous, fabulous machine and we want one very badly indeed. As will you, if you get to sample its particularly idiosyncratic way of going about its remarkable, extraordinary business. It's the best pick-up truck on sale, no question, and objectivity be damned.

Alternatives:

Isuzu D-Max AT35: you've got two options with the D-Max - there's the apocalypse-defying AT35, which is more focused on slow-going off-road prowess than the Raptor's 'batter the scenery' approach, or the lurid-looking XTR. Either one is less money than the Ford, but neither is quite as appealing.

Mercedes-Benz X 350 d: the equal-best on-road pick-up, in our opinion, and it's due to cark it any day now. Slow global sales mean Mercedes is killing off the X-Class after just two years in production, but fitted with its 258hp/550Nm V6 it's a blinding machine. Not as capable off-road as the Raptor, mind.

Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI: another pick-up truck with a far nicer engine/gearbox combination than the Raptor and one which'll take a tonne in the load-bed, but the Amarok lacks the star quality of the Ford. And it's not exactly cheap itself, if you decide to buy it as a personal vehicle.


Matt Robinson - 5 Mar 2020









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2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.

2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Ranger Raptor UK test. Image by Ford.








 

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