As is the case with the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior, Ford doesn’t offer its most impressive Ranger in North America. Like its big brother, the Ranger Raptor is a pickup factory-modified to crawl over rocks and jump sand dunes. But like every other truck nowadays, it’s supposed to behave on the pavement, too. So, does it? To answer that, we have to turn to some experts across the pond. Automotive journalists Richard Porter (one of the writers behind Top Gear) and Jonny Smith recently released a video on their Smith and Sniff YouTube channel of their Ford Ranger Raptor review. Here’s what they had to say.
The Full Range of Specs
Jonny hit the nail on the head straight away with his visual description. For him, the Ranger Raptor looks “properly American” and off-road, without actually being American-sized. And in more than just design language, the Ranger Raptor is essentially a scaled-down F-150 Raptor.
In North America, the Ranger is available both with four-wheel drive and the FX4 Off-Road Package. The Raptor shares some of its features with the FX4, such as the front skid plate, though the Raptor’s is aluminum, not steel. Like the FX4, the Raptor also has Ford’s Terrain ManagementT system, which tells the truck what type of terrain you’re driving through.
However, the Ranger Raptor’s other modifications put it in a different class than the FX4 (or the non-NA-market Wildtrak). It rides on Fox Pro shocks with position-sensitive dampening, meaning they start soft but get progressively stiffer to keep up with the road. The rear suspension has also been changed from the base Ranger’s leaf springs to coils. The bumpers and grille are Raptor-specific, as is the widened track and wheel arches. Rounding out the exterior upgrades are four integrated tow hooks.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder. Like the Raptor itself, this is a Ranger option unavailable in North America. Jonny and Richard quote the engine as developing 200 hp, but CarWow quotes the output as 211 hp and 369 lb-ft. As with the North American Raptor, the transmission is a 10-speed automatic. Unlike ours, though, the Raptor has a Sport Mode.
The interior has also been Raptor-ized. Both Jonny and Richard describe the cabin overall as being very “plush”, especially for a pickup. Grab handles are everywhere. There are paddle-shifters for the transmission, and although they look plastic, they’re actually magnesium. The Raptor comes with Ford’s latest infotainment OS, with built-in Waze and Alexa. The normal Ranger has electronic shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, but the Raptor also has hill descent control. The front seats are more heavily bolstered and covered in Alcantara. There’s even ‘Raptor’ embroidery. The armrest storage pocket can even keep your drinks cool.
Driving the Ford Ranger Raptor: Positives
It’s safe to call both Jonny and Richard fans of Ford’s previous F-150 Raptors. Jonny outright says the first-gen F-150 Raptor was what got him into pickups. And Richard, having spent some time watching racing driver Tanner Foust jump Raptors for Top Gear USA, was impressed at how much abuse that truck could just shrug off.
Sadly, there aren’t many Trophy Truck-sized dune jumps in England. But even so, both Jonny and Richard were impressed with the Ranger Raptor.
The change to coils, in addition to the Fox shocks, means the Ranger Raptor rides better than the rest of the Ranger lineup. Richard claims the ride quality is good even with nothing in the bed, unlike most pickups. The interior is also pleasant, and pleasantly quiet: no road noise complaints when going Britain’s national speed limit of 60 mph. Richard also was quite complimentary about how precise the steering was, especially for a pickup.
But the biggest positive is the design. Richard’s five-year-old son was absolutely delighted when he first laid eyes on it. Both Jonny and Richard refer to the Raptor as a Tonka truck, and passer-by even gives them a thumbs-up when they drive past. This is a truck that, to paraphrase the duo, knows it’s a bit silly and behaves as such. Throughout the whole video, the two keep looking around at the surrounding hedges and fields, and try to find something to clamber over.
Driving the Ford Ranger Raptor: Negatives
Beyond a brief drive through a muddy field, the two didn’t test the Ranger Raptor’s off-road performance. But, driving and accelerating the truck on pavement did reveal a few flaws. When pressed, the diesel engine starts sounding a bit like it’s gargling rocks. Jonny and Richard also were a bit perplexed with the transmission. Richard remarked how small the gaps between gears was, and how he got “lost in the ‘box” when he used the paddle-shifters. Adding to the confusion is the complete lack of a gear indicator. The transmission does shift smoothly, but when Richard mats the accelerator at one point, it has to kick down five gears. Add to that the diesel’s relative lack of power—our 2.3-liter turbocharged gas engine makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft—and that might explain the Ranger Raptor’s performance in CarWow’s video.
Other drawbacks? While Jonny does discuss how the Raptor works well for towing, the rest of the Ranger lineup can actually tow more. The Raptor’s limit is 5512 lbs (2500 kg), the NA Ranger’s is 7500 lbs (3500 kg), most likely due to the suspension. Not only can cheaper Rangers tow more, but they can do it at a fraction of the cost.
That, arguably more than anything else, is what held the Ranger Raptor back from the NA market. With only one option (the Ford Performance Blue paint), the Ranger Raptor comes in at approximately £50,000, or just over $63,000. Meanwhile, the F-150 Raptor starts at $52,855. It is clear, the two explain, that Ford did spend their money intelligently. Rather than just upgrade the interior slightly—as Mercedes did to make the X-Class—Ford invested in the suspension and other ‘under the skin’ bits. But would a smaller, more expensive Raptor make sense in the US? Probably not.
Ford Ranger Raptor Wrap-Up
Jonny said it best: “It looks amusing, and it’s really quite decent at its job….it feels legit chunky.” Yes, it’s expensive, but the Smith and Sniff review goes a long way to explain why many enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic pine for this truck.
Unfortunately, with that sticker price, even if Ford had decided to sell the current-gen Ranger Raptor here, it wouldn’t make financial sense. News of the next-gen Ranger has been sparse, beyond confirming a more powerful V6 option. But if desire is high enough, perhaps Ford will decide to bring over the next-gen Ranger Raptor.
They could at least take Smith and Sniff’s suggestion seriously, and make a Mustang and Transit Raptor.