After trying out the sporty Ford Focus ST in Zadar, we switched our keys to another Ford Performance ST. Hand to heart, Europeans who still find pickup a strange sight didn’t even know that such crazy combinations could be made. A freighter that knows no obstacles and sports performance. We checked to see if this makes any sense in practice.
As SUVs have gradually become accustomed to Europeans buying bigger and bigger cars, real SUVs and trucks have become a more natural occurrence on European roads. Across the ocean, the Raptor name connects to the huge Ford F-150, and Ford has now decided to offer this unusual combination of robust truck and athlete to Europe as well. In order to fit into the gauge of European roads, the Ford Ranger was chosen as much as possible, and we tried it both in turns and off the road.
When we tested the Jeep Wrangler last winter, we regretfully realized that such true all-wheel-drive SUVs, differential locks, robust suspension and powerful engines were getting smaller. Fortunately, Ford has made sure that this endemic species extends its existence and market share. Not only that, they passed it on to their sports Ford Performance department and gave them almost completely redeemed hands.
The first and basic thing Ford Performance did was remove the rear leaf spring suspension and put on the Watts suspension with the capacity Fox Racing shock absorbers that offer compression and return adjustment. Another pair of such front shock absorbers, reinforced suspension elements and extended wheel track along the large 285/70 R17all-terrain tires, and then the body had to be adjusted. The Ranger Raptor has the look of a real “muscle trunk” with extremely wide fender extensions, steps on sills that are big enough and sturdy enough to look like a load-bearing rather than an extra part, and a powerful mask with a massive Ford inscription and even more monolithic protection of the engine and chassis. Forget about the gray colored plastics you see on SUVs. This is a 2.3mm thick metal plate that really has its function and is one of the reasons why the Raptor is not afraid of big jumps.
In fact, the entire chassis of the Raptor is specially reinforced and adapted for extra loads and durability in shocks and jumps. Also, the suspension points themselves have been specially modified and adapted for a wider wheel track and greater wheel travel in the fenders. All these changes make you feel comfortable driving, so the Raptor really drives like a completely different car compared to the regular Ranger.
ID Ford Ranger Raptor
Height – 1873 mm, Width – 2180 mm, Length – 5398 mm, Wheel track 1710 mm
Floor height – 283 mm
Offset angle – 32.5 °, breaking angle 24 °, descending angle 24 °
Tires – All- terrain BF Goodrich – 285/70 R17
Engine: 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel with 213 HP (157kW) and 500 Nm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Back, the Ranger Raptor is also more extreme with a modified bumper that integrates a large tow hook and two mud pull hooks. The large cargo area is still available with plenty of space, with dimensions of 1,560 mm x 1,743 mm meeting all research and weekend challenges. Due to a different rear suspension, the payload is reduced from the standard Raptor, but is still at the task level of each pickup, and can tow a trailer weighing up to 2.5 tons.
After the jump, it often has to stop, so the Ranger Raptor gets new and custom brake system components. Thus, despite the weight of 2.3 tonsbrakes very convincingly and evenly thanks to the two piston calipers forward which have been increased by 9.5 mm in diameter, while the ventilated discs are now an impressive size of 332 x 32 mm. Also the rear discs are impressive with dimensions of 332 x 24 mm and are firmly gripped by new 54 mm jaws.
The Ranger Raptor comes with Terrain Management System (TMS), which offers six modes for a variety of driving experiences, which can be selected using the five-button switch located on the steering wheel.
- Normal mode – Emphasizing comfort, fuel economy and driving ability
- Sport mode – adaptable for energetic on-road driving. This means quick, sharp gear changes at higher engine speeds to aid the throttle response. In this mode, the throttle and automatic transmission response is faster and sharper, while the gear changes are made at higher rpm.
- Grass / gravel / snow mode – Designed to inspire safe and secure driving on slippery and uneven surfaces. This is achieved by smoother shifting and second gear, thus minimizing the chance of the wheels slipping.
- Mud / sand mode – The vehicle response is tuned for optimum traction and momentum on deep, deformed surfaces such as loose sand and mud. This is achieved by maintaining lower gears with high torque.
- Rock mode – Used especially for low-speed rocky terrain where smooth handling is key.
- Baja mode- The engine and gearbox response is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need on the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, systems such as traction control are “muted” to allow for fast off-road driving without the need for the driver to struggle with the assistance system. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, so changes will be made at higher rpm and will be done quickly and aggressively.
After all the heavy overhauling of the chassis and suspension, the engineer’s imagination is restrained in choosing the engine. When you look at the Ranger Raptor, it kind of makes sense that at least some six-cylinder is under the muscular hood. Still, while the F-150 Raptor in America has a 3.5-liter V6 with 450 hp, the European Raptor has to settle for a 2.0-liter turbo diesel. At first it really sounds modest and difficult to relate to the sports prefix.
However, even after the first kilometers, this disappointment pretty much evaporated. Although seemingly small for such a large body, this engine handles the Raptor perfectly. A maximum of 213 hp is not a small number, but it is much more important to the powerful 500 Nm of torque. Such a large amount of torque is available at 1,750 rpm and pushes and carries the Raptor as you wish. The excellent automatic transmission with as much as 10 gears is a great help . It’s fast and sleek enough, and depending on the mode you choose, it also has the perfect timing to shift gears to the situation and the substrate.
All these reworks and innovations brought by Raptor were all about one thing. Superb entertainment in all conditions and the ability to drive fast and hard off the road like almost any car currently available on the market. Indeed, no matter how impressive and enjoyable one pickup was on a paved road, it was only when we turned on the goat tracks and the sandy terrain of the Raptor began to reveal our talents.
Basically demanding offroad challenges where you slow down obstacles, canals, mud, sand and everything else, it seems like a kid’s game for the Raptor, but it’s also not something that sets it apart from the rest and what little real terrain is left. Only when you select the Baja mode on the steering wheel , named after specific sand races in the USA, and the big accelerator pedal pressed to the floor, the real fun begins. In Baja Fox Racing, the shock absorbers “breathe” so they give softness when swiftly over uneven but also in complete control, while high suspension travel and durable BF Goodrichtires give the driver the confidence to continue straight, almost no matter what lies ahead. After a short time, we found ourselves holding a road speed of about 110 km / h at the closed range of the former military barracks in Zaton near Zadar. Nothing in particular, except that there is a surface beneath us that is difficult to walk over on foot. It was only then that we realized why they were so proud of the Raptor in the Ford Performance department. Indeed, there is currently no car that offers this combination of high performance and off-road capabilities.
When we were back in the mud by the Raptore, we returned to the hotel parking lot next to the shabby Focus STs who could get a smile off their faces. A car that is so visually, mechanically and drivingly so truly deserves praise, and Ford itself deserves special praise for the courage to step out of the comfort zone and focus its experiences on creating a car that will be remembered long after it is no longer in production.
The Ford Ranger Raptor is not yet available in the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is expected that the first orders will be available early next year, when prices are known. For now, we can expect prices to be closer to those in Croatia, where the Ranger Raptor costs around 120,000 marks. You don’t even have to ask us if we’d rather choose a Raptor or some luxury SUV that costs more than that.