Australia, the performance ute is back, but not nearly as you know. With the introduction of the Ranger Raptor Ford has finally buried its low-slung V8 performance pickup past and delivered a high-riding scrub-slaying adventure ute in the image of its own F-150.
To turn the Ranger into a member of the Raptor family Ford has borrowed inspiration and componentry from the bigger F-150 Raptor, whilst comprehensively engineering the Ranger to be stronger, and more capable.
As reported by TMR in September 2018 the Ranger Raptor is powered by an all-new 2.0-litre twin turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, although confirmed outputs of 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque aren't too far above the current 3.2-litre Ranger’s 147kW and 470Nm.
While undoubtedly high-strung, the team thermo-tested the sequential turbo setup for reliability at glowing red-hot temperatures for 200 hours continuously.
The new engine is backed by Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission as seen in the F-150 Raptor which is lighter and optimised for durability and features ‘live in drive’ function that allows for manual shifting override at any time.
Ford unveiled the Ranger Raptor to Australian media in Thailand, where the Ranger is manufactured, revealing the tough ute’s aggressively updated styling including pumped out guards, wide wheel arch extensions, contrasting front bumper and lower bash plate and an American-style Ford Trucks grille.
“The Ford Performance team is excited to extend the Raptor name from our flagship off-road performance F-150 to Ranger. Just like the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor builds upon the core capability of the range of vehicles it comes from and carries the unmistakable Ford Performance DNA appearance,” said Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi.
To keep a family connection with the F-150 Raptor the new Ranger Raptor, Ford Performance developed a toughened frame-mounted front bumper, LED fog lamps, fully-functional air dams that decrease wind resistance, and made the wheel arch flares out of tough composite material..
A limited range of paint colours are available including lightning blue, racing red, shadow black, frozen white and unique conquer grey hero colour with contrasting grey ascents.
Compared to a the mainstream Ranger 4x4 the Raptor is 1873mm tall (up 52mm), 2180mm wide (331mm wider) and 5389mm long (30mm longer), the Raptor raises its ground clearance by 46mm to 283mm and approached angle gains 3.5 degrees to 32.5 while departure angle grows 3 degrees to 24.
Underbody protection has been reinforced with a new 2.3mm high-strength steel silver base plate which integrates around 4.5 tonne rated front tow hooks and joins the existing engine and transfer case guards that protect the engine sump, crossmember, front differential and power steering unit.
At the rear is a modified bumper with integrated tow bar drops the Ranger’s towing capacity from 3500kg to just 2500kg but does include 3.8 tonne rated recovery hooks. Higher up, the new rear tray has grown to measure 1560mm x 1743mm and Raptor badging and stickers adorn the tailgate while new EZ lift struts reduce tailgate lifting effort by 66 per cent.
Raptor-specific grit-painted black side steps have been designed to prevent rock spray from hitting the rear of the big ute while also draining sand, mud and water, and were put through a vigorous testing regime that applied 100kg of weight to the steps over 8400 times – or the equivalent of ten years regular use according to Ford.
Beneath the Baja-inspired raptor are a set of stiffened side rails made from high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) for coping with hard bumps. The standard Ranger chassis has also been upgraded at key points to better cope with high-speed off-road driving and high impact hits.
Amongst the major handling package changes is a coil-over-spring rear axle setup and Watt’s linkage configuration in place of the leaf-sprung rear of workhorse models for improved lateral support.
Like its bigger F-150 brother the Ranger Raptor runs custom-tuned Fox Racing Shox dampers front and rear with position sensitive damping for increased damping forces on impact and rebound off-road while the mid-travel zone is configured for a plusher ride when not careering through the bush.
The rear suspension has been further strengthened with a bypass shock absorber and separate fluid reservoir and all shocks have a 46.6mm piston front and rear with internal bypass. Forged upper control arms and cast aluminium lower arms hold the longer shocks in place that give the Raptor greater travel than any Ranger before it.
The same 17-inch alloy wheel design as the American ute will be on the Oz-bound Raptor which is fitted with reinforced BF Goodrich tyres measuring 285mm wide and 70mm thick, giving a total wheel diameter of 838mm and increasing the Raptor’s track front and back to 1720mm.
Behind the big tyres are 332mm wide ventilated rotors all-round sitting between 9.5mm wider twin-piston callipers upfront and a single-calliper rear.
To give drivers greater control over vehicle systems in challenging conditions Ford has reprogrammed its Terrain Management System with a choice of six modes accessible via steering wheel mounted controls.
Sport and normal are the only on-road settings while off-road gets modes for rock; grass, gravel and snow; mud and sand; and a unique ‘Baja’ mode that’s tuned for high-speed off-road performance that Ford says is ‘just like drivers in the famous Baja Desert Rally need’.
“It is amazing to enable this level of performance and create a vehicle that can provide off-road enthusiasts such an adrenaline rush,” said Hameedi.
“It really is like a motocross bike, snowmobile and an ATV rolled up into a pickup truck.”
The interior has also been given the Ford Performance treatment thanks to a pair of specially designed sports seats that have extra bolstering and support for extended driving and hard knocks of off-road, finished in suede trim with blue contrasting stitching and black leather ascents with bespoke Raptor embroidery.
The steering wheel takes inspiration from desert-racing machines with a red centre marker and perforated black leather grips in front of magnesium alloy paddle shifters for full manual gear selection.
Ranger’s 8.0-inch Sync3 touch-screen infotainment screen carries over and offers connectivity such as Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as adding a new breadcrumb feature for Hansel and Gretel style waypoint marking.
Keyless entry with push-button start and reverse camera with rear parking sensors round-out standard features plus Ranger-tuned electronic safety assists such as stability control, roll mitigation, ESC, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control and load adaptive control.
Ford Australia has not announced pricing or availability but has confirmed the Raptor will launch in Australia this year, with dealers already taking orders.
Given the extensive design and engineering changes, and the Raptor’s position as the absolute flagship of the Ranger line-up, the new halo model is expected to start from somewhere above $80,000.
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