You’re likely familiar with the fire-breathing Ford F150 Raptor pickup — the full-size monster truck capable of leaping sand dunes like Olympic hurdles. It really is a product fresh from a childhood dream, but not one that synchronises with the reality of living in Europe.
The truth of living the Raptor’s American Dream outside of its homeland is that you’ll have to cope with left-hand drive, it’ll drain your bank account faster than its own fuel tank, and the novelty will wear thin every time you go to park it. However, there is now an answer for those who crave a euro-friendly Baja bad boy. Meet the F150’s baby brother, the Ford Ranger Raptor.
It might serve as the F150’s younger sibling, but there’s nothing junior about the way this Ranger Raptor looks. What a beast! Swollen wheel arches shroud a wider track, a bold Ford grille dominates its front facia, all while rugged BF Goodrich tyres serve as an explicit off-road signature. This truck is a boisterous thing to behold.
The Ranger’s traditional proportions remain, with a practical double cab and sizeable cargo area present and correct. It sits higher than the regular pickup, but its size is certainly a better fit than its American relative.
Climbing up and into this Raptor reveals a spacious cabin for five. Much of the regular Ranger’s architecture remains, with the dashboard dominated by a Ford’s Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system. The Raptor DNA starts to surface as you place your hands on the steering wheel, something that sports a motorsport inspired centreline. However, it’s the highly bolstered sports seats that hug your ribs that are the most overt suggestion of this pickups newfound attitude.
The three rearmost occupants received generous head room, and good levels of leg room to match. There is a transmission hump in the floor for the central passenger to contend with, but its low and wide stance enables a relatively trouble free existence.
While the Raptor’s load bed is a good size, the truck’s extensive suspension modifications means that it can only handle 620kg. That’s a great shame as it falls short of the UK requirements for a VAT-free purchase. Its towing capacity has also been compromised in favour of off-road vigour, now only able to pull 2,500kg.
Behind the Wheel
Another big surprise comes in the form of what’s under the bonnet. You won’t find a bellowing V8 or punchy V6, instead a turbocharged diesel has been installed. Producing 210bhp, it doesn’t set the world alight, but this diesel actually makes a lot of sense for a European truck. Fuel is costly, economy is important to most owners, and the healthy 369lb ft of torque is mighty handy for climbing obstacles.
However, you don’t buy this Raptor for its engine… You buy it for the enormous amount of work Ford has put into the chassis. Everything has been stiffened and reinforced, hardy springs replace lleafsping suspension, and large Fox shock absorbers hide in the wheel arches. These changes enable this truck to not only cover rough terrain, but also at an impressive pace.
Instead of creeping over ruts, the Raptor leaps over them without hesitation. Its ability to take the punishment and physical assault that would simply break other 4×4’s at these speeds is uncanny. A normal Ranger is a great off-road tool, but the Raptor will cover the same minefield of chassis torture at some 35mph faster! Thanks to the Baja-grade springs and dampers, you feel hardly any of nature’s obstacles from within the cabin.
Rejoining the Tarmac highlights that this Ford’s trick suspension also shrugs off the potholes of our battered British roads. The ride is really very good for a pickup — even when the load bed is empty.
The Ranger Raptor is also handy when confronted with some twisty roads. It has a poise and agility rarely seen in a vehicle of this size, something afforded to it by precise steering and good body control. Getting involved by manually selecting gears from the 10 speed automatic transmission – via wheel-mounted paddles – is largely redundant, though. It’s a few too many gears to click through, especially as you’ll be shifting early each time to get the most out of the diesel engine. The good news is that this transmission is highly effective when left to its own devices.
As you might expect, the Ranger Raptor has a series of selectable drivetrain modes. The usual 4 high range provides plenty of traction on loose surfaces, 4 low range is perfect for steep assents, but it’s in the two-wheel drive setting when the Raptor is at its most playful. Select ‘Baja Mode’ for some wonderfully churlish doughnuts in the mud, and gratuitous armfuls of opposite lock on gravel.
2019 Ford Ranger Raptor Verdict
The Ford Ranger Raptor is like no other truck on the market at the moment. Its tremendous momentum off-road, combined with those monster truck looks, forms a unique proposition. Far from being a watered-down F150 Raptor, this wonderfully characterful machine is worthy of respect on its own terms.
Its near £49,000 asking price is steep, but I’d rather have a chat with the chap who bought himself a Raptor as his toy, than someone who’ll bore me to death talking about their 718 Cayman.