One of the most eagerly awaited new models of the year, the Raptor, which the Blue Oval claims “rewrites the rulebook for off-road performance”, arrives as the most aggressive interpretation of any generation Ranger to date since the moniker replaced the Courier as a model of its own in North America 40 years ago.
Subjected to the same rigorous testing programme as its sibling, the Raptor, as hinted by not only the mentioned teaser, but also last month’s spy image, represents a significant departure from the outgoing model both inside outside and underneath. Aesthetically, the trademark block letter FORD on the grille remains, though more spaced-out and underscored by a smaller bumper with an integrated 2.3-inch steel bash-plate.
Resembling the F-150 Raptor closer than ever before, the muscled-up appearance additionally consists of wider wheel arches with black cladding to accommodate the 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres, standard Matrix LED headlights, new cast aluminium side-steps and a step integrated into the redesigned rear bumper.
Inside, the Raptor’s interior dramatically differs from that of the outgoing model in both look and design. Lifted from the Wildtrak, the tablet-like twelve-inch touchscreen infotainment system with SYNC 4 software comes as standard, along with the 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster, though resplendent with graphics and readouts bespoke to the Raptor.
Not shared with the Wildtrak or any other model, additional unique touches inside include Code Orange accents on the dashboard and new steering wheel, cast magnesium gear shift paddles, a Raptor first ambient lighting system and new sport seats said to have been inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
The biggest change from the current Raptor however resides underneath where the already high-tech chassis has been reinforced and the frame itself revised to cope with not only the various terrain, but also the new powerunit up front. A characteristic of the previous Raptor, the Fox Racing dampers complete the suspension transformation, albeit with considerable changes.
Developed specifically for the Raptor by Fox and Ford Performance, the dampers also features what the former firm calls bottom-out control whereby the damping force is increased in the remaining 25 percent of the shock to maximum. The newcomer jettisons the part-time four-wheel-drive system for a permanent all-wheel-drive configuration, while also adding an electronically controlled transfer case and electronic front and rear diff-locks.
Also tweaked, the Terrain Management System now comes with seven modes that adjust the throttle response, gearbox, steering, traction control and even display within the instrument cluster and on the infotainment system. They include the default Normal, Slippery, Sport, Sand, Mud/Ruts, Rock
Crawl and a revised Baja setting
For the first time, Ford has also developed a unique exhaust system that uses electronics, plus a pair of valves within the pipes, to provide a bespoke soundtrack depending on the mode selected. Activated by a button on a steering wheel, four settings are offered; Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja.
While certain markets will continue with a revised version of the existing 2.0-litre Panther bi-turbodiesel engine from next year, the standard unit sees the Raptor switch to six-cylinder power production plant whilst the V6 is mated to a recalibrated version of the General Motors co-developed ten-speed automatic gearbox. An anti-lag system that keeps the turbos spooled for three seconds after throttle lift-off, produces 292kW/583Nm.