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REVIEW – Ford Ranger Raptor


Ford Ranger Raptor 2.0 EcoBlue 213PS 4x4 Automatic
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
3

Summary

You’d struggle to buy a Ranger Raptor with your head. It looks tremendous, for sure. It’s finished to a reasonably high standard inside, with plenty of standard equipment. But a 2.0-litre diesel is underwhelming. And the racing suspension means a reduced payload, such that this is no longer classed as a commercial vehicle. VED is more expensive, and VAT is not reclaimable, making the £50,000 Raptor a very, very expensive purchase.


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Exterior Styling

It is always good to start a review on a high, and the exterior styling on the Ford Ranger Raptor is about as high as this review will get. No, seriously. You might not want to read on past this section; if you choose to, you’ll see why…

There are few cars out there that have the approval of pretty much everyone. Supercars might appeal to a few petrolheads, but there will also be jealousy. But the Ranger Raptor is so overwhelmingly big, and cool, you can’t help but like it.

Our test car was finished in a new colour; Conquer Grey. Almost primer-like, this colour is very much on trend, and is aptly named for a car that looks this aggressive.

The Raptor is longer, wider and taller than the standard Ranger. It’s the width that you notice the most, and gives the Raptor an imposing stance. At the front you’re instantly drawn to the grille, with the biggest ‘FORD’ lettering ever seen this side of the Atlantic. Headlights incorporating LED daytime-running lights sit either side of the grille, whilst the black and silver bumper below gives a rugged feel.

The side profile is dominated by knobbly off-road tyres, which make the 17-inch alloys look miniscule. There’s also a side step, black detailing and Raptor decal. It’s from this angle you start to appreciate the length and height of the Ranger Raptor; you’ll be instantly grateful for that step…

There’s not a lot going on at the rear, except for the large load bed, complete with cover and adjustable rails. A black frame for the rear window incorporates a brake light and some lighting for the load area, and looks like a sort of spoiler on the back of the Ranger.

Interior Finish

Because the Ranger Raptor costs £50,000 Ford has given some thought to the cabin finish. Irrespective of how much muddy action the Raptor could see, a cheap, functional finish on a car this price is utterly unacceptable.

Thankfully, Ford knows this too. The cabin in the Ranger Raptor is finely balanced. There are still hard-wearing plastics, but kept mostly to the lower half of the interior, where the muddy boots and wet coats could end up.

For the dashboard there’s a soft-touch faux-leather with contrast blue stitching, which feels more premium. As do the half-leather, half-alcantara sports seats; which look supportive and welcoming. There’s blue stitching on the seats, and also the gear-gaiter, handbrake, steering wheel and centre armrest.

The steering wheel is big and chunky, featuring perforated leather and a centre marker for when you lose track of your lock on the Baja 1000. Or, as is more likely, on a field just off the A65…

The dials are plain and simple, which is a little disappointing. Given the digital instrument cluster we now get on the Ford Mustang, we had hoped for an interactive display with lots of cool, but pointless, graphics and telemetry.

You do, however, get grey titanium gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel. They are fixed to the column, and elongated to ensure they are always within reach.

In the centre of the dashboard is an 8-inch touchscreen which is home to Ford’s brilliant SYNC 3 infotainment system. That being said, an 8-inch screen doesn’t look half as big and impressive as it should in a car this size; getting lost in the big, chunky dashboard.

Engine/Performance

By now you’ve probably seen the TV advert with the Ranger Raptor barrelling across a dirt track, leaving a trail of dust behind it. Or you may have seen the mid-air press pictures. It all suggests the Ranger Raptor is offering some serious performance…

I’m sorry, it just isn’t. You can forget the rip-snorting 6.2-litre V8 from the original F150 Raptor, or the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 from the latest one. The engine in the Ranger Raptor is a twin-turbo, but only a 2.0-litre diesel.

Before it sounds like I’m being too ungrateful, I should point out that this is the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Ranger in the UK, with 213PS and 500Nm. And with a new 10-speed automatic to utilise every last ounce of that torque, there is still some glimmer of hope.

The on-paper performance figures – 0-62mph in 10 seconds and a top speed of 106mph – hardly scream ‘Baja 1000’, but once on the move the in-gear acceleration feels more brisk than those figures suggest.

Soundtrack is perhaps the area most lacking with the 2.0-litre unit. The original Raptor – the F150 – was as loud in the engine department as it was in the styling department. This Ranger has all the looks, but pressing the start button to hear a diesel engine fire up is something of an anti-climax.

When you’re not driving like you’re on a desert rally, the 2.0 EcoBlue isn’t actually all that bad. The 10-speed auto ensures it’s quiet on the motorway, and to say the top speed is 106mph the Ranger Raptor is surprisingly happy at 80. Sorry, 70.

Ride/Handling

The biggest changes to the Ranger Raptor, over the standard model, come in the handling department. And most significant of all is the suspension setup.

To ensure the Ranger Raptor can cope with lumps, bumps, potholes and ruts, Ford has fitted a race-bred FOX Pro suspension setup. Take one look under any corner of the Raptor and take a look for yourself; this is some serious setup.

And it needs to be, because the Ranger weighs a not-so-slight 2,510kg, any jumps, landings or impacts are going to be big. The FOX setup delivers a ride that is composed on even the roughest surface, feeling like it will absorb any impact, shrugging off anything you could throw at it.

Where a normal pickup would bounce and wallow along a road, the Ranger Raptor soaks it up and stays flat. It’s remarkable, and I would love to get behind the wheel on a proper off-road course to push its limits even further. There’s not much to say about the steering; it’s lacking in feel and, thanks to big off-road tyres, precision too.

You get several drive modes, with presets including Sport, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja. To further enhance the different modes, the Ranger Raptor has selectable all-wheel drive: rear-wheel drive for normal driving, 4-wheel drive, and low-ratio 4-wheel drive for seriously tough terrain.

The 10-speed auto gearbox is a gem; making sure you’re in the right gear at the right time. Despite expectations, the car isn’t constantly changing gear. And, even if it was, the changes are so slick you wouldn’t even notice. It is a saving grace to be able to make best use of the limited power available, and I’d be keen to see how the gearbox performs off-road.

Economy

You might think that, having a 2.0-litre engine, the Ranger Raptor would make up for its performance shortfall with sensational economy… you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

Part of the problem is the sheer size, and weight, of the Ranger Raptor. With all the chassis strengthening and mechanical upgrades the Raptor is a bit of a heifer; 2,510kg to be precise.

It also has to be said that while knobbly off-road tyres look the business, their higher rolling resistance only worsens the economy.

On paper the Ranger Raptor claims 31.7mpg on the combined WLTP cycle. Try hard, and you can probably just about achieve this on a longer run. But around town we were seeing figures in the mid-20s. And that’s nowhere near what you’d hope for with a mere 213PS at your right foot.

CO2 emissions of 233 g/km make for painful reading too. Ordinarily this would be irrelevant, because the VED for a light goods vehicle (LGV) is a fixed rate regardless of emissions; currently £265. But the Ranger Raptor isn’t a commercial vehicle, so the emissions are very relevant.

And based on 233g/km the VED is £1,815 when you register the vehicle, and £145 thereafter. But because the Raptor is more than £40,000 you’ll pay the surcharge in years 2-6; an extra £320. These running costs are starting to look unfavourable…

The Ranger Raptor won’t appeal to company car drivers either, because only commercial vehicles avoid the car-equivalent benefit-in-kind charges. So where a Ranger Wildtrak – with the same 213PS engine and 10 speed auto – will incur a charge of £57.17 for a basic rate tax payer, the Ranger Raptor is a whopping £298.71.

Over a year that’s £2,898 extra, which is simply unjustifiable.

Practicality

A vehicle the size of the Ranger Raptor will always have its uses. There is plenty of room in the cabin for adults, front and rear. And because the Raptor has plush alcantara seats, it’s a comfortable place to sit.

The load bed is also a vast area, which is great for transporting bulky items without intruding into the cabin space. Having a load cover is great for if you need to keep things dry, and the adjustable rails are really useful for securing items in place.

The elevated driving position brings excellent visibility of the road ahead, while the truck-sized wing mirrors are a welcome feature. Unfortunately the small rear window, combined with the long rear bed, make for somewhat difficult rear visibility. A reversing camera is standard, and absolutely essential when manoeuvring to spot any low-down hazards.

Of course, the Ranger Raptor suffers from the same pitfalls as every other pickup when it comes to day-to-day life. Where do you put the food shop? Put it in the rear bed and your groceries will roll around all over the place. Put it in the cab, and your passengers have nowhere to sit.

Other Ford Rangers boast a towing capacity of 3,500kg. But the Raptor, with its race-bred suspension, is only rated for 2,500kg. That may seem like nit-picking, but if you’re considering buying what looks like the biggest, baddest pickup around you need to know its limitations.

At 5,363mm long and 2,180mm wide, finding a parking space can be a challenge. And taking the Raptor through a quaint, narrow village can make you feel a bit silly.

Equipment

In order to make the Ranger Raptor feel as premium as its price tag, Ford has ensured that this flagship model comes with plenty of standard kit. So much so, in fact, that there are no options related to equipment.

You get plenty of creature comforts, including keyless entry and go, automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats, electrically-adjustable front seats and dual-zone climate control. The heated windscreen is a godsend in winter months, while privacy glass helps keep the glare away in summer.

To help when reversing, there are rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, which is an absolute necessity to see low-down objects behind you.

Adaptive cruise control maintains a safe distance to the car in front, whilst intelligent speed assist uses road signs to adjust the set cruise speed. Very clever.

The SYNC 3 multimedia system incorporates DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, satellite navigation and, for what is now classed as old-school, a CD player.

In addition to all the mechanical upgrades, the Ranger Raptor also gets a locking Mountain Top load cover with adjustable load rails, plus a towbar and electrics, as standard. That means you can be off on an adventure right out of the box.

The Ford Ranger has a Euro NCAP score of five stars, making this a safe choice of vehicle. Contributing to that high score is a Collision Mitigation System, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability programme and autonomous emergency braking.

To keep your belongings – and your Ranger Raptor – safe, the tailgate is part of the central locking system and there is a Thatcham-approved alarm system.

Value For Money

There has been an increasing market for pickups over the years. One of the main driving forces in this demand is the cost-efficiency they offer; particularly in businesses.

As commercial vehicles, there are various tax breaks available, which make a pickup more appealing than a car. For a VAT-registered business that purchases a pickup, the VAT is reclaimable. If employees have pickups as company cars, their benefit-in-kind tax charge is much lower.

But we’ve already established that the Ranger Raptor is not a commercial vehicle. Which means that there are no such tax breaks available. IF you want one, you’re going to have to be prepared to pay for it.

The Ranger Raptor costs £49,325 on the road, inclusive of the non-reclaimable VAT. Which, I’m sorry, is simply a staggering amount for a 2.0-litre diesel pickup. Conquer Grey paint is a further £600, taking the cost of our test car up to £49,925.

Sure, you will stand out in a Ranger Raptor. It turns heads, and you feel like king of the road from the driver’s seat. But there are other cars out there – with equal head-turning ability – that cost less than £50,000.

It’s virtually impossible to recommend the Ranger Raptor. It’s a shame, because I really wanted to like it. I like the notion that it is designed to tackle something like the Baja 1000. I like it’s big, overly exuberant styling. But I don’t like the price.

Ultimately for £50,000 you can have another Ford that is exuberantly styled, and guaranteed to turn heads. What’s more, it has a proper engine too. That’s why we’re going to get the Mustang Bullitt over for a test. And I can’t wait!

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel
Max power 231PS at 3,750rpm
Max torque 500Nm at 1,750-2,000rpm
Drivetrain 10-speed automatic transmission, selectable all-wheel drive
0-62mph 10.0 seconds
Top speed 106mph
Fuel tank size 80 litres
Fuel consumption 31.7 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 233 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 2,510kg
Towing capacity 2,500kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity Not stated (but it’s a lot)
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £49,325
Price as tested £49,925
Company website www.ford.co.uk/vans-and-pickups/ranger-raptor

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