By Malusi Msomi
Some road trips are just more special than others and oh boy was this road trip special as we got to spend five days in the quite possibly the most badass bakkie in Mzansi. Driving from South Africa to Namibia has to be on the bucket list. Before we start talking about the new Ranger Raptor, lets drop some knowledge on the “Raptor” name. The moniker “Raptor” to Ford is like AMG to Mercedes-Benz, and is designated as the highest-performance version of the F-150, Ranger and Bronco.
The first Ranger Raptor was introduced back in 2019 and is a flared up bakkie optimized for off-road driving like its bigger sibling – the F150 Raptor. It looked great and has the off-road prowess but it lacked something – the noise and power to match the looks. It was powered by a 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine that produced 157kW and 500Nm of torque and paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission gearbox. With this new model though, things have changed, it now borrows it looks from the F-Series and is powered by a glorious sounding Ford Performance developed 3.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol EcoBoost V6.
Everything about the new Ranger Raptor feels large and in charge. It looks more imposing thanks to its large black front grille with big F-O-R-D lettering, and C-clamp headlights (same as the F-Series pickups) with Matrix LED and LED daytime running lights. At the rear you’ll find LED taillights which provide a signature link to the front and a precision grey rear bumper features an integrated step pad and tow bar that is tucked up high to increase the departure angle. On the side you find functional air vents and solid new-design cast aluminium side steps. The flared fenders accommodate a muscular 17-inch wheel design wrapped in 285/70 R17 BF Goodrich all-terrain KO2 tyres. Buyers can opt from 8 colours which includes: Code Orange, Conquer Grey, Arctic White, Absolute Black, Blue Lightning, Aluminium Metallic, Meteor Grey and Sedona Orange. The only exterior option in the Ranger Raptor is the Decal Pack that cost R7,700.00. All this beauty however only lasted for about a day as we entered dirt roads to make our way to our first nights stays in Kathu, Northern Cape.
Stepping inside, it looks similar to the normal Ranger which is great. The Ranger Raptor’s cabin however has all-new jet fighter-inspired sports seats, both front and rear, that are not only more comfortable but also more supportive during high-speed cornering. The interior also features Code Orange accents throughout the cabin and also features leather sports steering wheel with thumb swells, on-centre marking and cast magnesium paddle shifters.
In terms of tech, it boasts a fully digital cabin, including a high resolution 12.4-inch digital cluster – the largest yet on a Ranger – and a 12-inch center touchscreen with Ford’s new-generation SYNC 4A connectivity, which offers both Apple and Android wireless smartphone connectivity, as well as wireless charging. Rear passengers have their own USB-A and USB-C charging ports, as well as a 400-Watt inverter that provides convenient 240V power to the load box in conjunction with a 12V socket. The Ranger Raptor comes standard with a 10-speaker 660W Bang & Olufsen sound system that kept us jamming throughout our trip.
V6 Power and extreme off-road capabilities
The most welcomed change to the Ranger Raptor engine which is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6. It produces 292kW and 583Nm and is paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s quite quick with Ford claiming the 2500kg bakkie to hit 100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds.
When it comes to ride comfort, the Ranger Raptor is in a class of it own. The ride is super comfortable but that does come at a cost as the massive tyres introduces quite a bit of tyre noise in the cabin. If you don’t set the cruise control to the speed limit, you could find yourself doing some ungodly speeds. During our trip, we came across a lot of different gravel surfaces. Some of the most corrugated gravel was dealt with quite easily by the Raptor and at speed, any other bakkies in our market wouldn’t have been able to endure what the Ranger Raptor can.
Driving on the dunes was pretty special. Before heading to them, we dropped tyres to 1.2 bar and let it rip. The Ranger Raptor on the dunes was something special. It looked like it was born there and just fitted in, actually the Ranger feels at home anywhere as it felt easy to drive in town and off-road. It has a few driving modes which include: Normal, Sport, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Baja, and Rock Crawl. The Ranger Raptor now has a sophisticated permanent four-wheel drive system with an all-new electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case. This, combined with the standard rear locking differential and a new front locking differential, raises the vehicle’s off-road capability to new heights.
The Ranger Raptors off-road prowess is now further enhanced thanks to suspension upgrades that include new FOX Live Valve dampers. It also has next-generation FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers that are filled with Teflon infused oil that reduces friction by around 50 percent compared to those on the current Ranger Raptor. This allows the suspension to adapt in real time to the driving conditions, providing exceptional on-road body control while absorbing corrugations and bigger ruts off-road with ease, ensuring maximum control and performance. This car can take on any terrain at any time.
The new Ranger Raptor sound glorious. It has four selectable drive modes, an electronically controlled active exhaust system that amplifies the engine note. The modes include: Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja. Baja is the most aggressive of the exhaust profiles in both volume and note. It behaves more like a straight-through system in this setting and is intended for off-road use only.
In terms of safety, it comes with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control, Lane Keeping System with Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Road Edge Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Centring, Evasive Steer Assist, Blind Spot Information System with Trailer Coverage, Active Park Assist 2.0, Pre-Collision Assist with Dynamic Brake Support, Forward Collision Warning, Automated Emergency Braking, Reverse Brake Assist, and Post-Collision Braking.
The new Ford Ranger Raptor is one hell of a bakkie. In our market here in Mzansi we doubt there’s a production bakkie that comes close when it comes to ride comfort and off-road capabilities. We were surpised by the price. The Ranger Raptor comes in at R1,094,900 and we believe its quite a lot of car for the money.
Included as standard is a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first.
Customers have the option of purchasing a Ford Protect service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 165 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km, while the Roadside Assistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.
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