Ford's much musclier new Ranger Raptor has been well-received by the Wheels team, and the market too. So, now it's time to see what it's like to live with.
To get a sense for its daily-driving value and its family friendliness, new dad Alex Inwood is spending a few months with the new hero truck.
|2023 Ford Ranger Raptor: The basics|
|Body||4-door, 5-seat dual-cab ute|
|Drive||Permanent four-wheel drive|
|Engine||3.0-litre V6, DOHC, 24v twin-turbo petrol|
|Power||292kW @ 5650rpm|
|Torque||583Nm @ 3500rpm|
- Coming soon: Space, comfort and family duties
- Coming soon: COTY, performance and economy
- Coming soon: Farewell
Price as tested: $87,490
This month: 1207km @ 14.8L
Total: 1207km @ 14.8L
Things we like so far
- Looks tougher than a super-max prison guard
- New V6 sounds great and feels muscular
- Cabin quality is top drawer. Decent room for a family, too
Not so much...
- No tray cover as standard
- Firmer ride takes some getting used to
- Already proving to be pretty thirsty, even driven sedately
It’s always a risk to revisit a car that has impressed you at a launch event.
The last time I drove the new-gen Ranger Raptor was in the desert, where I spent a brilliant day dropping it into deep pits, sliding it around on sandy dunes and launching it over jumps at vaguely ludicrous speeds.
It was huge fun and didn’t only demonstrate the benefits of giving the Raptor almost twice as much grunt as the original – courtesy of its new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine – but showcased just how clever and capable its new adaptive Live Valve suspension was.
Looking to buy a vehicle that can sail through the air at 140km/h and land with the poise and grace of a jungle cat? Only a WRC car can do it better.
There was, however, a sense that we were playing to the Raptor’s strengths. Like lining up Steve Smith in the cricket nets and only throwing him half volleys outside off stump, or asking Steph Curry to only shoot from the free-throw line. Of course Ford’s fresh super ute was going to nail it out there.
There was a sense that we were playing to the Raptor’s strengths. Like asking Steph Curry to only shoot from the free-throw line.
A tougher test, and arguably a more relevant one, is how the Raptor handles the daily grind. After all, let’s be real: how many Raptor owners will really schlep it to the middle of nowhere to drive their $100K dual-cab like a lunatic?
Some will, and if you own a Raptor, I implore you to do so – because it really is fantastic. But the reality is that most examples will spend the majority of their time in an urban environment, which is precisely why we wanted to add one to the Wheels long-term fleet.
I will admit to a certain degree of trepidation when it came time to collect BXK-261 from Ford’s Broadmeadows HQ. What if, without the added ingredients of sand and jumps, it doesn’t feel as special as it did all those months ago?
How would it fare in the cut-and-thrust of city traffic? Remember, this new Raptor isn’t only faster and more capable – it’s also considerably more focused.
The new shocks are firmer, the steering is heavier and the brake pedal more immediate – all of which is great at ten-tenths, but how about during a 40-minute delay on the Monash? Hm.
Okay let’s talk spec. ‘Our’ Raptor is about as standard as you can get, with the only added extra being its Code Orange paintwork, which commands a $700 premium. It’s a bold hue, but to my eyes it pairs nicely with the Raptor’s aggro styling. (Seven other colours are available and every finish except white commands the extra $700.)
You can go even louder, if you like, by optioning a decal pack that adds warpaint-like stickers to the bonnet and tailgate, but personally I prefer the simpler ‘Raptor’ lettering on the rear quarter panel.
Another option missing from our Raptor are the heavy-duty beadlock wheels – but again, I’m happy that particular box wasn’t ticked.
The beadlocks cost $2000 extra and add about 16kg to the Raptor’s unsprung mass so I’d only suggest splurging on those if regular hardcore off-roading is your thing.
All up, our Raptor long-termer costs $87,490 before on-road costs. That’s a circa-$9000 price jump over the ute it replaces, but honestly, it still feels like great value. The exterior design is tougher (our particular spec oozes menace), and inside, the cabin strikes a great balance between a premium and hard-wearing feel.
The seating position is bang-on. There’s now reach and tilt adjustment for the steering wheel, and Raptors now score a unique steering wheel design and heavily bolstered, leather-accented sports seats.
There’s loads of standard gear, too.
The portrait-style central touchscreen is large and user friendly, there's a digital dial cluster, the seats are heated (a cooling function would be nice, though), and you score wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a wireless charging pad.
We’ll dive deeper into the infotainment and connectivity next month, but, so far the system has been seamless, which is a notable difference to Andy’s temperamental experience with the same set-up in our recent long-term Everest. As for what’s missing in the Raptor? The only thing I’ve found myself looking for is a head-up display.
Build quality also feels of a high standard. One thing that was obvious on collecting our Raptor was that this particular ute has already lived an eventful life as part of Ford’s press fleet. The front bash plate is caved in on one side, there are long horizontal gouges down the right-side flank, and the leading edge of both rear wheels are peppered with stone chips.
There’s even a light smattering of fine red dust in some of the cabin’s nooks and crannies – but despite the telltale signs of hard use, all of the interior trim is still tightly screwed together and there’s not a rattle or buzz to be found.
So what about first impressions?
Well, as expected, the first few kays hammer home just how different this new Raptor is. The thing you notice immediately is the added tautness to the ride. The old Raptor used an earlier iteration of Fox’s Live Valve shocks, and the ride was so pillowy that it felt like the cabin was balanced on a gimbal.
This new ute is much more locked-down. You notice small bumps that the original ironed out, and there’s less compliance over bigger ones, but the trade-off is a big improvement in body control.
And while the new chassis set-up is appreciably more firm, don’t confuse that with being harsh or brittle. This is still a comfortable ute to drive everyday and feels a rung above a regular Ranger for ride quality.
The second thing that grabs your attention is just how big it feels on the road. Out in the great expanse of the desert, the Raptor felt big and butch, but in the tight confines of city traffic it is positively enormous.
It’s so wide that lane discipline is a high priority – slipping between two trucks across the Westgate Bridge is an experience akin to squeezing into an already crowded elevator. You sit so high, and the front end is now so bluff and aggressive, that it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re unintentionally intimidating smaller cars. Still, familiarity will soon lead to confidence in terms of the size, and I will admit there’s a certain satisfaction to being one of the largest vehicles on the road.
Two other early observations: the air-con is properly cold, even on 22 degrees and with the fan speed set to one. We’re talking ‘Aussie Summer’ levels of icy relief here, which is great on a hot day but possibly a touch too cold when the sun isn’t blazing. The other observation is that, so far, the Raptor is performing admirably as a family truck.
One of our primary criticisms of this generation of Ranger is that its rear seat is on the squishy side for its class, but passenger room hasn’t been a problem for the new Inwood Clan. Our rear-facing baby seat fits easily (the kiddo loves the panoramic view out of the side and rear glass) and a fully grown adult can fit behind the driver without feeling overly compromised for knee room. That, too, we'll cover in detail soon.
There is an issue, though: there’s nowhere to securely store our pram and other bags in the ray. Every Raptor is fitted with a spray-in tub liner, but there’s no tonneau or roller shutter as standard. Being able to lock up the tray is quickly proving to be a must-have, so we’ll report back on that one next month.
Revisiting that Raptor hasn’t disappointed. Even in suburbia, it feels special and the cabin quality and extra grunt from the 292kW/583Nm V6 petrol, which makes the Raptor feel properly muscular, are early highlights. We have big plans for some family road-trips and off-road dashes, so stay tuned to see how it measures up for long-distance comfort, performance and, gulp, fuel economy.