At the top of the food chain in many ecosystems are the Raptors, large powerful birds with exceptional vision and wingspans sometimes metres across. It is with some pressure then that their automotive namesake, the next-gen Ford Ranger Raptor, has been released with more power, better tech and a higher payload than its predecessor.
I was seriously impressed the first time I drove the old Raptor back in 2020 and again just before my stint in this next-gen Ranger Raptor, so Ford Australia had a lot to live up to in my book. The good news is Ford has not just lived up to the reputation of the old Raptor, it has crushed it like the talons of a Wedge-tailed Eagle around its prey! The number one complaint about the previous generation Raptor was that engine power let the package down, fixed! I re-read my review from 2020 and my three Cons were ‘Tray bed not wide enough for 1,200mm pallet’, fixed! ‘No central rear air vents’, fixed! And ‘Lack of active driver safety aids’, fixed!
The exterior styling of the next-gen Ranger Raptor remains tough looking with a unique ‘F-O-R-D’ block letter Grille and a 2.3mm-thick steel front bash plate. The Raptor decal pack is an optional extra ($500) and Prestige Paint will add an extra $700 to the price. The Raptor has as standard Matrix LED headlamps auto dynamic levelling with LED driving lights, full LED taillamps and LED front fog lamps. The auto dynamic levelling and speed dependent lighting that can adjust the intensity of the beam in front of the vehicle depending on the speed at which you’re travelling. The headlights also offer both static and dynamic bending capability as well as glare-free high-beams that help block light that could otherwise temporarily blind other drivers.
The next-gen Ranger Raptor is powered by a 3.0-litre, V6 Twin-Turbo EcoBoost petrol engine with 292kW of power and 583Nm of torque combined with the new 2.5-inch active valve exhaust system. This means the Raptor now not only has the power to match its prowess, it also has the punch because this exhaust sounds really good on start-up and even better under hard acceleration. If you live in an urban area, you can schedule a “quiet start”, which allows owners to set Ranger Raptor to always start in Quiet mode, or set a quiet time (with start and end times) to help owners stay on the good side of their neighbours.
To change the exhaust sound all you have to do is press the button on the steering wheel that looks like an exhaust pipe. The first press displays a pop-up message on the digital instrument cluster of the selected mode, while pressing the button again allows you to change the selected exhaust mode. There are four Exhaust modes to select from, Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja for maximum exhaust noise under all driving conditions, and meant for off-road use only.
The Raptor uses full-time 4WD, but can be switched between 2H, 4H, 4L and 4A and also has multiple drive modes that are selected using the rotary knob on the centre console. These modes are Normal, Sport, Slippery for on-road, and Mud/Ruts and Sand, Baja and Rock Crawl for use off-road. Changing the mode adjusts everything from the gearshift to throttle response, traction and stability controls, ABS and more. The 12.4-inch customisable digital instrument cluster displays a different theme for each selected drive mode, with animated changes when the driver scrolls from one mode to another and it has a cool animation on start-up.
On top of all this you can also select ‘My mode’ by pressing the ‘Raptor’ button on the sporty-looking steering wheel. Under ‘My mode’ the Steering can be set to Normal, Comfort, Sport or Off-Road, and the Dampers to either Normal, Sport or Off-Road.
In addition to the selectable drive modes the Raptor boasts a dedicated off-road screen on the infotainment system. At the press of a button, the driver can access the off-road screen, which shows driveline and diff lock settings, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles and is designed to help you get the most out of your vehicle’s off-road driving capabilities. This feature is further enhanced by the addition of a 360-degree camera which, with a front camera view of the terrain ahead, provides additional visibility and predictive overlay guidelines helping the driver negotiate obstacles.
As a novice off-roader I found the camera system very helpful and on slippery, muddy tracks I felt completely at ease in the Raptor. For everyday driving I switched between Normal/Sport modes and regardless of the selection the ride comfort in the Raptor was outstanding for a ute and matched the quality of most regular family SUVs. The performance Fox racing 2.5-inch live valve suspension and Watts Link coil suspension certainly do their job well on the Raptor. I had a tremendous amount of fun driving the next-gen Ranger Raptor and I did not even get to Baja mode on this occasion.
The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox and you get metal steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters to ‘manually’ change gears. This system does not allow ridiculously aggressive downshifts, but it offers plenty of fun for the driver on upshifts. The official combined fuel use for the next-gen Ranger Raptor is 11.5L/100kms and for my week l used 14.1L/100km and to compare this to the outgoing Raptor, the last time I drove the Raptor X diesel I used 10.8L/100km.
On the inside the next-gen Ranger Raptor gets the cabin design it deserves with numerous red highlights that now match the red leather strip at the top of the steering wheel (another one of my complaints from the old Raptor fixed). When you first close the door you may find it a bit odd that the door handle is located within the door pull, but you will get used to this. The Ford Performance front seats are embossed with the Raptor logo and Code Orange accented stitching and are comfortable even on long journeys. Making them nicer than those fitted in the Wildtrak I drove a couple of weeks beforehand, which gave me a numb bottom after a lengthy drive. Both front seats are heated and have 8-way power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear, and two-way lumbar adjustment. Neither front seat has any memory positions though and this is something Ford could improve by at least giving the driver’s seat memory positions.
Additionally, the large-format, 12-inch infotainment screen, featuring Ford’s SYNC 4A communication and entertainment system, has brought the Raptor into the current decade of in-car technology. The Raptor’s B&O sound system went through rigorous static and dynamic acoustic testing with the size and placement of the 10-speakers powered by a 660-watt amplifier specifically placed throughout the cabin.
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto projects your smartphone onto the central screen and unlike the Wildtrak, this worked perfectly throughout my time with the Raptor. The wireless charge pad is located in the deep cubby at the front of the centre console along with one USB-A and USB-C port for wired phone charging should your phone require it. Bluetooth connection is also available and music can be streamed via USB MP3 player or you can listen to DAB+ or AM/FM radio. Voice control can be used to navigate some of the infotainment features and is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the androgynous looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me to change the radio station and make calls, but would not work to set a destination on the sat nav and this is something that Ford should work on as I had the same issue in the Wildtrak and the Everest.
There’s now more storage space in the cabin of the Raptor with retractable cup holders on each side of the dash, an upper and lower glove box, room in the front door cubbies for two drink bottles, two cup holders in the centre console, with a removeable rubber mat under them, and even a chip holder for your fries at the front of the centre console. Under the arm rest there is one 12V outlet and the Raptor comes standard with a six-switch auxiliary bank making it easier to install accessories like driving lights, a winch and more. And to cater for more drivers using dash cams, all next-gen Ranger models feature a high-mounted USB outlet alongside the rear-view mirror.
The rear seats have ample head and leg room for two adults to comfortable fit and I LOVE that the Ranger Raptor has two proper rear tether child seat restraint points, that are clearly labelled to avoid confusion, with two ISOFIX points. The centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest, but this was hard to do in the Raptor. The arm rest has two rigid cup holders in it and the rear door cubbies can also fit two drink bottles and there is storage under the rear seat. The two central rear air vents have individual manual on/off and direction controls and below these there is one USB-A port and one USB-C port. The only issue I have with the rear seats is that rear floor mats are not fitted as standard.
The Raptor tub comes with a spray-in bedliner and is 1,210mm wide at its narrowest point between the wheel arches and 1,445mm deep, so can now carry a European pallet (1,200mm x 800mm). The payload has increased to 753kg and the tub has six substantial tie down points, two lights and a 12V outlet. The Raptor I drove did not have a hard tonneau cover, but a Power Roller Shutter can be fitted as an optional extra ($3,500) and I think this is an absolute must if you are going to use the Raptor as a family vehicle because if you don’t have a waterproof cover on the tub there is nowhere to store a pram or the shopping. Externally the Raptor has dual rear tow hooks, comes standard with the Tow Pack and has a 2,500kg towing capacity. I was disappointed though that the Raptor did not have the access steps like the Wildtrak I drove.
The next-gen Ranger Raptor does not have an ANCAP safety rating, but there are plenty of active safety features fitted to this ute. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System with Road Edge Detection and Driver Alert System, Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage. When my dog walked behind me in the driveway the Raptor automatically braked so I know that this works well. Plus, the Raptor has auto lights, auto wipers and a 360-Degree Camera with front and rear sensors that allows you to use the large centre display to choose from multiple camera views. This includes a bird’s-eye top-down view, 180-degree front and rear split view and rear trailer hitch view for easier and safer parking and manoeuvring.
All new Ford models come with a five Years/Unlimited Kilometres warranty and Ford National Roadside Assistance & Auto Club Lifestyle Membership for up to seven years if an eligible General Service is undertaken at a participating Ford Dealer. The service interval for the next-gen Ranger Raptor is one year or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first, and the most an eligible customer will pay is $329 for the first four general services for up to 4 years or 60,000kms.
Driving the next-gen Ranger Raptor will make you feel like you are at the top of the automotive food chain and the other 4WDs on the road should be scared prey. Ford Australia are experiencing extended wait times for the Ranger Raptor and your preferred Ford Dealer will be best placed to share the latest on current availability or you can build and price your next-gen Ranger Raptor on-line. The 2023.50MY Ranger Raptor is commencing production in March 2023 with the starting price of the Raptor being $86,790 excluding on-road costs.
|The engine/exhaust finally live up to the Raptor||No memory positions on driver’s seat|
|The off-roading technology||Voice control not up to $80k+ vehicle standard|
|The fun family trips you will take in the Raptor||Rear floor mats are an optional extra|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.