The faster, more powerful, and even more hardcore second-generation Ford Ranger Raptor has been revealed in full, as the Blue Oval seeks to shore up its dominance in the performance pickup market.
The headline news is a radically different engine: a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 shared with the Bronco Raptor offering nearly twice the power as the outgoing diesel, and an exhaust system with variable valves for different sounds depending on driving mode.
And while the formula remains the same as before, down to the presence of a manic Baja high-speed 4×4 mode, Ford also claims to have made this iteration even better at rapid off-roading than before, and tougher to boot.
In other words, this one is designed to sit even more comfortably under the Ford Performance umbrella alongside some elite muscle cars and hot hatches. Case in point: it’s a (claimed) full minute quicker around a 10km off-road test track than the old Raptor.
As before, the Raptor was engineered and developed in Australia by Ford’s large local team of engineers and designers, and put through its paces at its Victorian Proving Ground as well as myriad off-road tracks all over the country.
“We knew that customers would expect improved performance with the Next-Gen Ranger Raptor, but I’m not sure they’re really expecting the enormous leap we’ve made… I think the raw performance is going to blow them away,” said chief program engineer Dave Burn.
Here are the key details we know so far, ahead of the Raptor market launch later on in 2022.
Ford naturally would not agree with comments that the old Raptor was underpowered, but it did acknowledge many customers reported wanting something more “emotive” from their desert racer.
So while the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel will continue to be offered in some markets, Australia will receive the Raptor-exclusive force-fed 3.0-litre petrol six pumping out 292kW of power and 583Nm of torque, the latter at 3500rpm.
The diesel made 157kW and 500Nm, for contrast, although both engines have the same 2500kg towing capacity – plenty for a few jet skis or a speed boat, hey?
The new engine uses a strong compacted graphite-iron block, and in Baja mode features anti-lag which keeps the turbochargers spinning for three seconds after you lift off throttle, meaning instant boost upon re-application post-corner.
It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and there’s an electronically-controlled active-valve exhaust system that amplifies or quietens the engine note across selectable drive modes (Quiet, Normal, Sport, and ultra-aggressive Baja).
Ford hasn’t offered performance figures but did say the new Raptor is “hot hatch quick… on dirt”.
Where the old Raptor has six driving modes, the new one has seven, which tweak the traction control, exhaust, throttle pickup, steering heft, instrument cluster design, and shift points – headlined by flat-shift logic on upshifts when flat-out in Baja.
The modes are called Normal, Sport, Slippery, Rock, Sand, Mud, and Baja. There’s also an off-road cruise control system that works below 32km/h. Curious to learn more about that…
Putting the power to the ground is a new permanent four-wheel drive system with an electronically-controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case, and both front and rear locking differentials to mitigate wheel spin over rutted ground.
The shifter dial shows 2H, 4H, 4L, and 4A modes, the latter being a full-time road-capable all-grip mode.
Programme supervisor Justin Capicchiano said the new model has been built to handle “an incredible amount of punishment”.
Ford actually bills the Raptor as using a “unique chassis”, given the numerous upgrades it has made over the normal Ranger models. For example, reinforced front shock absorber towers, new frame mounts for the jounce bumpers, and more C-pillar and tub reinforcements.
The suspension comprises aluminium upper and lower control arms, long-travel front and rear springs, and a refined Watt’s linkage equipped coils at the rear.
There are also, of course, 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve position-sensitive dampers linked to the drive modes. These shocks – billed as “the most sophisticated ever on Ranger Raptor” – are also filled with Teflon-infused oil to cut friction by a claimed 50 per cent.
They offer maximum damping force in the last 25 per cent of shock travel to protect against severe bottom outs, such as on landing. Ford adds the system can also stiffen the rear dampers to prevent the Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration.
That was not something the old Raptor would have been able to do…
Ford Performance says it tapped into a mixture of computer-aided engineering and real-world testing “to create the perfect balance between comfort, control, stability, and traction on and off-road”.
The Raptor’s rough terrain cred is enhanced by 2.3mm thick high-strength steel front bash plating that’s almost double the size of the standard Ranger’s. It’s paired with an engine under-shield and transfer case shield.
Rated tow hooks are mounted at the front and rear.
Manifesting our new year’s resolutions, this Raptor has been to the gym.
Up front (and soon to be seen in your rear-view mirror with regularity) there’s F-O-R-D lettering on the huge grille, a separated front bumper, glare-cutting Matrix LED headlamps with auto-levelling, and daytime running lights.
The speed-dependent lighting can apparently adjust the intensity of the beam in front of the vehicle depending on the speed at which you’re travelling, too.
Other design additions include cast aluminium side steps, LED tail lights, and a new rear bumper with step.
The flared fenders accommodate a choice of two 17-inch wheels, the optional-extra design coming with beadlocks. Both packages wear BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tyres.
Inside are better-bolstered “jet fighter-inspired” sports seats (both in the front and rear); Code Orange accents on the instrument panel, trim and seats; ambient cabin lighting; an on-centre wheel strip; and cast magnesium paddle-shifters.
Screen-wise, the Raptor pairs a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and 12-inch centre portrait-oriented touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 4 software with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, and Bang & Olufsen audio system.