” You go out at night, eatin’ cars. You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too, Mercury’s and Subaru’s. And you don’t stop, you keep on eatin’ cars..”
So said Blondie, in their 1980 hit ‘ Rapture,’ And, the same could be said for the Ford Ranger Raptor which Company Car & Van tested recently. This is not a pick-up as we know it in the UK. This is a Ford Performance-tuned vehicle, designed to go wherever you want it to go, across any terrain, faster than a standard pick-up. The new Raptor takes it’s cue from the American F-150 Raptor , which Ford designed to tackle pretty much anything. A week spent in one & you come away feeling that if a truck could indeed eat cars, it would be the Ranger Raptor !
Although it’s fitted with a surprisingly small 2.0-litre diesel engine, Ford handed the Raptor to their Ford Performance division to create something different, in effect, the first ‘performance’ pick-up. With all due respect to the V6 offerings, the Volkswagen Amarok & Mercedes-Benz 350d, which both shine on road & off, neither they nor any of the ‘Arctic Truck’ pick-up’s currently on sale in the UK, offer the combination of on-road manners & off-road madness that the Raptor comes with.
Whilst the standard Ford Ranger is the number one best seller in the UK pick-up sector, Ford aren’t expecting to shift thousands of Raptor’s. Instead, they hope to attract the customer who has been tempted into the sector by the lifestyle models that have come to the fore in recent years. That would be the business owner, rather than the foreman.
The Raptor’s exterior has been designed to mirror it’s F-150 American cousin. It’s 44mm wider, 168mm longer & 52mm taller than the standard Ranger. Ground clearance increases, up from 230mm to 283mm, which in turn increases wading depth: from 800mm to 850mm. The wheelbase is the same but the Raptor has a wider track of 150mm between the centre of the wheels, both at the front & the rear.
Image wise, there are flared wheel arches, containing 17′ x 8.5″ Dyno grey alloys, with all-terrain BF Goodrich tyres. The alloy side steps in black feature the Raptor logo. The full-width black front bumper is fixed to the chassis, beneath which sits an aluminium skid plate. The rear features a load box roller shutter with carry bars, underneath which are a 12v powerpoint & tie down hooks. The tailgate offers an easy-lift easy-lower mechanism, with a trailer tow pack is included.
Inside, the Raptor matches many SUV’s for comfort & styling. The seats are finished in suede trim with blue stitching, there’s power adjustable front seats, a leather sports steering wheel & plenty of good quality soft touch surfaces & plastic on offer.
Equipment includes a FordPass Connect onboard modem, Ford’s SYNC 3 with 8″ touchscreen & SatNav, a fixed rear view camera, Bi-xenon headlights, heated windscreen, privacy glass & a dual control EATC system. Safety is catered for with a collision mitigation system, lane keeping aid, cruise control, intelligent speed assist & ABS/ESP/RSC with Terrain Management.
As previously mentioned, the European Raptor features a 2.0 EcoBlue diesel, which is set to replace the ageing 3.2 unit most Ford Ranger customers will be familiar with. Small it may be, but it actually offers 210bhp & 359 lb ft of torque compared to the larger engines 197bhp & 347 lb ft, making the 2.0 EcoBlue the most powerful engine in the Euro Ranger line-up.
Unsurprisingly, it’s more frugal too, coming with a combined return of 31mpg on the WLTP cycle, which is a 9% improvement over the old 3.2 unit. Further good news is that it is still homologated as a light goods vehicle for VED purposes, so you’re not hit with a £1,815 first year road tax bill, followed by £465 for the next five years, as you would were it a classed as a car. Instead, you pay just £260 per year.
For both off road & on, a 10-speed auto gearbox powers the wheels. It’s fitted with an electrically-controlled “shift-on-the-fly” 4×4 transfer case. There’s both high & low range 4×4 settings & the ubiquitous hill descent aid. The Raptor does feature the option of steering wheel controlled gear changes, but in al honesty, with 10 gears, it’s more hassle than it’s worth, as the auto box is really very good.
The Raptor offers driver’s a choice of six “terrain modes” ; Normal, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud, Rocks & the mad-as-hell Baja mode. Each mode, adjust’s the throttle response, steering weight feel, torque distribution & add’s a bit more fun to crossing that muddy field or building site. If truth be known, after a attending off-road driving days with a couple of Ford’s competitors, my week in the Raptor didn’t ( sadly ) see me get the opportunity to drive it off-road at all, a massive disappointment. What I can tell you though, is that in Normal mode it’s still great fun & if you select Sport mode even better, with my 19 year old son especially keen on the V8-like artificial noise that enters the cabin, an extra with Sport mode.
We did though, travel 300 miles on road in the Raptor & it’s most definitely the most comfortable pick-up we’ve driven, thanks in the main to the coil & spring set-up & the new suspension. Rear passengers do not experience anywhere near the amount of to-ing & fro-ing that most pick-up’s offer. Another bonus is cabin space, which is excellent in both front & rear. The centre rear seat isn’t great & probably won’t take an adult & although the Raptor features a decent sized glove box, four drinks worthy door pockets, an armrest storage area & somewhere for your keys & phone in the centre binnacle, it definitely offers less storage than some of it’s competitors.
Talking of less, the Raptor does come with one very large caveat. Thanks to all of the engineering modifications, the payload capacity drops from one tonne to 680kg. Also, the Raptor can only pull 2.5 tonnes rather than 3.5 tonnes you can tow in a standard Ranger. The bad news is, that because of these lower totals, the Raptor can’t be classed as a commercial vehicle, meaning that you can’t claim the VAT back. Consequently the Raptor we drove, the EcoBlue 10-speed auto in Frozen White, costs about £10,000 more than a Ranger Wildtrak, at £47,874, begging the question, who would want one ?
Looking at the success of the standard Ranger Wildtrak, as well as the Amarok & X-Class V6’s, plenty are already choosing a ‘luxury’ pick-up, not as a work-horse but as a lifestyle vehicle. Choose a Raptor & all of the others melt away, that is, if you are prepared to fork out the extra cash. What I can guarantee, is that if you choose one, you will look forward to driving it every single day & will have a permanent smile etched on your face. Think Tony Blair & you’ll be about right.
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4cyl twin-turbo diesel
Transmission: 10-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10 seconds
Top speed: 106mph