The versatile Ranger has been given a Ford Performance upgrade and the impressive new Raptor can handle anything Ed Coles throws at it
Ford Raptor Ranger – a beast
First impression of the Raptor edition of the new Ranger: has anybody got a stepladder? She is a beast.
Walking around the Ford Raptor Ranger, I can’t make my mind up if it’s Mad Max or Batman. Either way, it looks the part and I quite like the almost grey primer paintwork.
The Raptor is a Ranger on steroids. Ford Performance has got hold of the Ranger and turned it into an all-purpose off-road vehicle.
The front suspension arms are a bit longer than standard — 150mm longer to be precise — and the wheel arches are beefed up accordingly. The front suspension has been upgraded with Fox Racing shock absorbers.
With longer springs, the Raptor sits a bit higher, with greater travel available. The Raptor’s bespoke 17in alloys, with proper off-road tyres, are a declaration of intent.
Looking from the front, we’re not going to have to worry about ground clearance. There is an impressive 229mm. In any case, the underside has been fortified with an aluminium skid plate to cope with any geographical hazards.
In addition to that, the Raptor comes with some extra custom goodies: front grille, aerodynamic rear sports hoop, unique front and rear bumpers, along with strengthened and larger sidesteps. So I might not need that stepladder after all. The Raptor also comes with front and rear ventilated discs, so stopping shouldn’t be a problem.
Moving around to the back — grabbing my trusty feed bag — and climbing underneath, the first thing I notice is no leaf springs. The Ranger Raptor has rear independent suspension and, like the front end, Fox Racing shock absorbers. There’s a glimpse of the 4×4 set-up and it looks like it will deal with anything thrown at it. The Raptor comes with a 10-speed auto, which is tucked away behind added protection.
Crawling back out, it’s time to inspect the workhorse bit. There is a roller shutter covering the back and some useful carry bars, which look like they will be handy for hanging game. The shutter does take up a bit of room when folded back, but there’s still plenty of space. I could easily fit 10 to a dozen full feed bags into the load area. The maximum payload for the Raptor is 620kg, which is surprising considering the upgraded suspension. Likewise, the towing weight for the Raptor is a tonne less than a normal double cab Ranger.
Opening the bonnet has its surprises too. For a big vehicle, the engine does look a bit dinky. Appearances can be deceiving, though. The two-litre bi-turbo engine houses 210 tiny horses and produces a whopping 500 Nm of torque. This is more than ample for towing.
Minimal body roll
Safety harness at the ready, I climb into the vehicle. The interior has been given the Ford Performance touch. Everything appears a bit more refined and almost sporty. As with most modern vehicles, a central touchscreen operates the majority of the toys.
The 4×4 controls are pretty simple, operated by a rotary switch, while there is also hill descent control and you can lock the diff for tricky situations.
On the steering wheel controls, there are six driving mode settings in all, which alter the engine and gearbox settings, depending on what’s needed.
Now, let’s see how she performs. First off, it’s quite smooth; not lightning quick in the lower gears, but it soon works through the 10 gears and is in its stride.
Though it sits slightly higher and wider, the body roll is minimal and it’s not overly boaty. Its size wasn’t too bad around town either; I even managed to negotiate my local city car park.
Some of the driver aids are good on a long run on the motorway, but I took instant dislike to the lane assist function on a curving country lane. The Raptor was pushing the white line width limit, which is a bit disconcerting if the vehicle steers for you when you’re not expecting it.
Turning off the road, I pull down a bumpy track to my shoot yard to load up with wheat. Despite my vertical affliction, loading was pretty simple, though I do confess to using a milk crate to climb in and move the bags forward. With a dozen bags loaded, and “4-high” selected, I set off to top up some feeders and see how the Raptor fares around the shoot.
First test, a wet meadow, passed with flying colours. The bumpy Chestnut Avenue next with its delightful ruts and bone-shaking potholes. The Raptor handles the lumps and bumps with ease and it’s a pleasantly smooth experience.
Selecting the “mud” setting, I headed for my least favourite track through the next wood. I may have beached my old Freelander in the deep ruts and mud, but no such worries with the Raptor. You can feel the all-terrain tyres doing their job. The Raptor seems to deal with everything that’s thrown at it.
I decided to use it for game cart duties on my next shoot day and, as predicted, the bars were very handy indeed; around 20 brace. It also gave me a chance to try some more testing ground. The steeper, hillier part here resemble the Somme in places. But the Raptor negotiated the muddy inclines well, helped by the onboard witchcraft.