Test Drive: Ranger Raptor rocks
Ford's uber-pickup is a mighty machine
published : 8 May 2023 at 07:00
newspaper section: Life
writer: Kingsley Wijayasinha
Although Ford has recently launched a less powerful diesel version of its second-generation Ranger Raptor, it's the turbocharged V6 petrol variant that everyone wants.
Yes, there's a 150,000 baht price difference between the two and the diesel does promise much better fuel economy. However, it is also much less powerful and misses out on a good number of attractive features offered in the flagship model.
When the first-gen Raptor was introduced in Thailand back in 2018, there were many negative comments on its pricing, which was much higher than pickups from other brands. Many suggested it was crazy to spend almost 1.7 million baht on a truck. However, that didn't deter Thai buyers from placing orders for the Raptor and Ford enjoyed tremendous sales success with its first performance pickup in Thailand.
It turned out the complaints came from non-buyers in general, while Raptor customers didn't give a hoot on the pricing. They just wanted the best truck they could buy, and the Raptor was it.
So when Ford started taking orders for the second-gen Raptor at last year's Bangkok International Motor Show, the American automaker wasn't shy in raising the bar further. The new Raptor didn't just come with a higher price, but also with a large turbocharged petrol engine that gulps up fuel like a tired horse.
Again, negative comments from non-buyers filled the internet. But as expected, Raptor customers didn't care and rushed to place orders. As a matter of fact, more orders were placed for the Raptor V6 than the Ranger Wildtrak and Sport series.
Earlier this year, Ford even raised the overall retail pricing of the Ranger slightly as it introduced the bi-turbo diesel model, pushing the Raptor ceiling to 1,919,000 baht. And if you pick the Code Orange or Conquer Grey exterior colour, that's another 10,000 baht.
In this review we go through the major highlights of the Ranger Raptor V6 Twin-Turbo Ecoboost 4WD 10AT, the most powerful and costliest 1 ton double cab pickup truck officially sold in the Thai market.
While some (this writer included) prefer the Baja-styled front end of the first-gen Raptor, there's no doubt the new design language is striking.
The new model isn't as wide as its predecessor and is 16mm shorter in length, but it's 53mm higher and has a wheelbase that's 50mm longer. The square front doesn't look aerodynamic (Ford never mentions the drag coefficiency) but it does correspond to the design of large American pickups in general.
Ford says the design of the new Raptor emphasises the performance of the truck with flared wheel arches, along with the high-tech C-clamp headlights and huge F-O-R-D lettering on the radiator grille. There's also a set of special underbody protection exclusive to the Raptor.
The result is a bold look that oozes with road presence, particularly through the Matrix LED lighting system, which comes with glare-free high beam and auto levelling.
Black 17in wheels are mated to BF Goodrich KO2 tires, and there are functional vents as well as aerodynamic features. Tough-looking aluminium side steps make it easy to get in and out of the truck, although they can cause some limitations when going off-road.
Compared to the first-gen Raptor, the rear end in the new model looks much more stylish. Unfortunately, it isn't fully-equipped with convenience features you'd expect from a truck at this price point. The rather heavy engine compartment lid doesn't get gas struts (like the Everest used to have) while the "easy-lift" tailgate is attached to the body with strings and doesn't feel as light as you'd expect.
One of the most welcoming changes in the new Raptor is the interior that comes with all sorts of high-tech features along with a high level of sportiness.
The fully-digital 12.4-inch instrument readout comes with colourful graphics and you also get a 12-inch centre touchscreen with SYNC 4A connectivity and entertainment system (with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). A wireless charger is provided as well.
There's also an excellent Bang & Olufsen sound system, although one wonders why Ford didn't pick an American brand like JBL, rather than a Danish brand.
The seats in the new Raptor are jet fighter-inspired and look great, apart from being easy to slip in and out for a six-footer. They are upholstered with a mix of real and synthetic leather, and both front seats come with 10-way electric adjustment. Rear passengers now get air vents, which were missing in the first-gen Raptor.
The sporty steering wheel is covered in leather with perforations and a centre marker, plus serious-looking cast magnesium shift paddles adding to the sporty nature of the truck.
There's also a set of overhead auxiliary switches that come in handy if you with to equip the Raptor with additional equipment such as winches and spotlights, without having to go through wiring modifications.
There are four USB ports while 12V and 230V outlets are offered both inside the cabin and in the pickup bed, adding to the practicality.
There's no doubt the new Raptor is the pickup truck with the best performance in the Thai market.
It's pretty bold for Ford to offer a petrol engine in Thailand, which is purely a diesel market when it comes to pickups.
The twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine beats other diesels by a mile in terms of output and torque -- 397hp and 583Nm -- and is smoother than any diesel you can find. In comparison, the bi-turbo 2.0-litre diesel, which is carried over from the previous generation, pumps out only 210hp, although the good thing about this slugger is that there's still up to 500Nm of torque.
The V6 Ecoboost engine enjoys a race-bred anti-lag system that provides quick throttle response when driving in the hardcore Baja mode. According to Ford, the turbochargers spin for up to 3sec after the driver backs off the throttle in order to maintain high boost levels out of corners.
The active exhaust system (exclusive to the V6 Raptor) is fun to use, offering four selectable modes including quiet, normal, sport and Baja. It's easy to operate via a designated button on the multi-function steering wheel.
The only setback of the V6 engine is the fuel economy. According to the Thai Eco Sticker, the truck averages at 11.5kpl, but everyone who has driven the new Raptor say this can quickly drop to a supercar level of 5kpl if you floor the throttle too often. Acceleration from 0-100kph is a quick 7.9sec, but the top speed is limited at 180kph, which is a responsible move from Ford. You might get higher top speeds (like 200kph) from other brands in the market, but that sounds like suicide considering the nature of pickup trucks, as well as driving conditions in this country.
The 10-speed automatic transmission has each gear programmed with its own boost profile to maximise performance on various surfaces the Raptor is likely to be driven on. The electronic shifter looks modern and stylish (like the ones you find in Audis), although it feels like a regular automatic as you change gears.
While the Raptor is more well-known as a desert racer, it's been designed to handle overland driving as well.
Apart from the two-speed transfer case selector for the permanent 4WD system (with front and rear locking differentials), there's also All Terrain Control that fine tunes the Raptor for various off-road situations, such as rock crawl, sand, mud/ruts and Baja. There's also Trail Control, which is basically a cruise control for off-roading that works below 32kph. When engaged, the driver just controls the steering while acceleration and braking is automatic.
Another major highlight in the Raptor V6 is the suspension, comprised of double wishbones with aluminium control arms up front and Watt's linkage at the rear. Ford has upgraded the damping system with FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers, connected to various drive modes to offer excellent performance both on and off the road.
Despite being a truck, the Raptor V6 feels planted cruising on the highways and during cornering, while road vibrations are well taken care of. There's plenty of reinforcements to increase the rigidity of the truck to prepare the Raptor for high-speed or off-road driving. It's easy to feel the difference between the Raptor and other models in the market -- drive it once and it's hard to get back to the usual pickup feel.
Stopping power comes from disc brakes all round, and although you can't expect supercar braking performance from this heavy 2 ton truck, it's probably the best in the market as well.
Look no further -- the Ford Ranger Raptor V6 Twin Turbo is the ultimate pickup, whether we're speaking about performance or technology. It has no competition and stands alone at the top of the pickup truck food chain.
Pros: Powerful engine, excellent suspension, high-tech interior
Cons: Qualifies as a gas guzzler, hood and tailgate mechanism cost-cutting