Ford by name, ford by nature. So let’s push this mud-plugging pick-up to its very limits

Our Verdict

Ford Ranger Raptor 2019 road test review - hero front

Can a hardcore off-road suspension revamp make the hot pick-up catch on in the UK?

Matt Prior
10 January 2020
Ford Ranger Raptor 2019 long-term

Why we’re running it: To discover if it’s as capable as we think it is – or if it’s just silly.

Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Ranger Raptor: Month 2

Filming a tractor at 100mph? All in a day’s work for this pick-up - 1st January 2019

Following an initial flurry of off-road activity, the Ford Ranger Raptor has been pressed back into more mundane service during the past couple of weeks. Which will not be uncommon for owners. The Raptor might be a rough-trail sports car but, like on-road sports cars, it’ll spend most of its time doing the daily grind, with sporadic moments of showing off. Customers will expect it to be adept at both.

And it is good at the boring stuff, which is unsurprising and why double-cab pick-ups became so popular in the first place, I suppose. Owing to being bigger, the Raptor isn’t quite as easy to rub along with as the Toyota Land Cruiser I was running previously because it’s harder to park. I’m always seeking out a bay at the end of a row so I can squeeze as far out of other people’s way as possible, and one shop local to me with a poor car park hasn’t seen me for a while, but otherwise it’s fine.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

There’s plenty of room in the cabin, both front and rear, with big cubbies for drinks and oddments. I haven’t carried more than two people in the back so I’m not sure how tight three would find the cabin over distance, but this is a broad car. I like the supportive front seats, too, and the uprated interior trim with fancy contrast stitching and what looks like leather if you squint a bit, as Ford has tried to make the Raptor not just behave like it’s worth fifty grand, but feel like it, too. It has succeeded well enough for me. It’s winter and the Ranger has a quick-clear windscreen, after all – those feel worth fifty grand on their own on the right morning.

Where a pick-up – and not just this one – doesn’t always translate to being a good passenger car is where the boot, such as it is, is massive, hard-lined and more exposed to the elements. The Raptor’s load bay is covered and stays dry, but unless I have a really big bag to carry – or two videographers to perch in it while trying to chase down the world’s fastest tractor at 100mph – I tend to just sling bags or shopping in the rear footwell instead, where things are less likely to slide from edge to edge and spray groceries all over the place.

If you want to carry four people and your weekly shop, then, it’s worth bearing in mind the advantage of a normal SUV’s boot instead. The load bed feels slightly less secure than a conventional boot too, although that’s probably unfair. Things are out of sight, and if some oik wants to steal your things, they’ll find a way to do it regardless.

There has been one problem. The capless fuel filler opening has been a bit sticky and awkward to push a filler nozzle into, which I put down to it being high mounted; but as I write, yesterday a colleague pulled a filler hose out and the assembly came with it. No fuel’s leaking and, pushed back together, it should hold until the 12,000-mile service, where I’ll have it checked thoroughly.

Love it:

Big protective boots Massive tyre size makes wheels all but un-kerbable (although I did manage it off road).

Loathe it:

Default choice If I’ve unplugged my phone that I was using for audio, on start-up the stereo defaults to a radio station, and I’d prefer it to be nothing.

Mileage: 11,200

Back to the top

No rest for our Raptor - 20th November 2019

No sooner had it arrived than we’d put the Raptor to good use. First off was an off-road video to see how it stacked up against a Bowler Bulldog on some of Wales’s harsher, publicly accessible tracks. Then, grit still clinging to its sills, it was pushed into photo and support-car action in our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car feature. A useful animal, this Raptor.

Mileage: 8032

Back to the top

Life with a Ford Ranger Raptor: Month 1

Welcoming the Ranger Raptor to the fleet - 13th November 2019

If all the things to like about the Ford Ranger Raptor, it’s the least seen that is the most impressive. So you keep having to explain.

Explain that, yes, this is a Raptor. And no, it’s not that quick in a straight line. And yes, it is expensive. And yes, it does have a 2.0-litre diesel, not a powerful turbocharged petrol V6. But that, honestly, you just need to get it onto the right track and then it’s brilliant.

In its ethos, the Raptor isn’t like other double-cab pick-ups. It’s more like a supercar, in that it has capabilities that you rarely get the chance to fully explore. So over the next few months we’ll try to find its limits. Double-cab pick-ups tend to be versatile, do-everything vehicles that can seat five yet have a one-tonne plus load bay, which, in the UK, gives them van tax status. The Raptor throws some of those do-everything elements out. It was developed by Ford Australia to basically pound rough tracks into submission, and to heck with being a commercial vehicle.

You have to see a Raptor’s bare chassis to fully appreciate just what Ford did to it: how the front end is stiffened to withstand Baja-style rally-raid impacts, while the rear end has been completely redesigned and fabricated to accommodate coil springs that have a lighter unsprung weight and far quicker responses than the leaf springs that Rangers, like most other pick-ups, otherwise come with.

And then there are the dampers from off-road specialist Fox, which is like “a candy store for dynamics engineers”, says Simon Johnson, the Ranger Raptor’s lead dynamics engineer.

Forgive me if I go off on a dive into these. The most notable part of them, if I understand it right, is bypass valves in the middle of the dampers’ travel. So there’s firm initial damping, then quite a soft phase in which the valves are letting oil bypass the plunger, so it’s riding easily and comfortably, and is apparently a phase you drive in quite often. Then the damping force ramps up again towards the end of travel, after the piston has moved beyond the bypass valves. Ultimately, it’s a bit like a soft-close drawer – easy travelling but shove it as hard as you like and it’ll never slam shut.

There are other impressive chassis things too. Ground clearance is up 51mm to 283mm. The approach angle is a terrific 32.5deg, the departure angle is 24deg (pickups have long rear ends) and the breakover angle is 24deg. Wade depth is a fairly astonishing 850mm. There are bespoke BF Goodrich KO2 tyres on a much wider track, with a Watt’s linkage at the back to limit sway The result is a car that Johnson says is like a “four-wheeled dirt bike” and two things strike me in my experience of the Raptor so far. For one, Johnson’s not wrong. For two, like trying to use all of a Ferrari 488’s performance, you have to go hunting for the right location to do it.

Like with supercars, some people understand this, and some don’t. Some of those who don’t get it think that the Raptor should have a more meaty engine than the twin-turbocharged 210bhp diesel that leaves it with a 0-62mph time of 10.5sec.

Actually, some of those who do understand the car think that, too. But the costs are already prohibitive and nobody buys pick-ups, Ford argues, with those kinds of engine in Europe. So there we are.

The other issue is the price. This is a £47,874 offroader and, thanks to coil springs, its load capacity has reduced from over a tonne to just 620kg, which means for tax purposes it should be treated as a car rather than a van. That makes a VAT reclaim harder, while monthly benefit-in-kind for a 20/40% taxpayer is not £57/£114 as it would be on a Ranger Wildtrak but £295/£590. Every month. The towing capacity has dropped from other Rangers too, from 3500kg to 2500kg.

So the Raptor is very expensive as a car and hopeless as a commercial vehicle. Or the other way round. Or both. Other issues? Well, I’m getting 27mpg so far and it doesn’t really fit into parking spaces. The 12.9-metre turning circle is no fun, the whole ‘separate chassis’ thing is still less refined than a monocoque on the road and the interior is a breathed-on pick-up’s cabin, not one befitting a £50k car. The engine, despite some synthesising through the speakers, is grumbly. And I’m sure people look at it like it should have one of those cringeworthy ‘BO55…’ number plates and assume its driver is 90% oaf. It’s such an utterly, utterly stupid car.

And so help me, I love it. I like that Ford’s engineers watched cross-country rally recce vehicles and decided to put one into production. I like that you have to go searching for the right place to use the full limits of its handling. And most of all, I like how much fun it is. That’s entirely what it was meant to be. It is as much a driver’s car as a Caterham or Ferrari or hot hatchback, just designed for a different kind of road.

So even if it makes me look ridiculous, is too big and has limits that are incredibly hard to find, none of that is a problem with the car. I just live in the wrong place.

Second Opinion

We road tested one earlier this year and I loved it. Never has a car felt more at home in the air than the big Ford. But it was the nonchalant manner in which it slipped back into being a surprisingly comfortable road car that sealed the deal for me. It is massive, though, and I reckon that would start to grate if I ran it daily. 

Simon Davis

Back to the top

Ford Ranger Raptor specification

Specs: Price New £47,874 Price as tested £48,474 Options Special paint £600

Test Data: Engine 4 cyls in line, 1996cc, twin-turbo, diesel Power 210bhp at 3750rpm Torque 367lb ft at 1750-2000rpm Kerb weight 2510kg Top speed 106mph 0-62mph 10.5sec Fuel economy 31.7mpg CO2 233g/km Faults None Expenses None

Back to the top

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Join the debate

Comments
13

14 December 2019

If those pictures shpw it being pushed to the limit then thats hilarious, just taking pictures in the squiff does not prove anything and any sensible car could have done that, even Citroen C4 Cactus, i used to take mine down worse tracks than that and it coped perfectly well...If you are going to push a car to its limit, the do so, but then dont show it on race tracks, roads and grass, take it off road properly.

14 December 2019
Mornin Johnboy, how's Jimbob?

...bet this'd go further than the new Defender.

14 December 2019
Disco 2 had similar load and towing. This 'trick' suspension - D2 had active rear anti-roll, Watts linkage to control the beam rear axle and it's easy enough to fit fox dampers. TD5 can be turned up to similar power levels.
This Ranger would not be able to follow the Disco off road in the UK. (last week I spent 2 days teaching off road driving in a new Ford Ranger so I do have relevant experience). Yes I do accept that the D2 has a rust problem with the rear chassis but at least they are 20 years old.
I'm just frustrated at the level of bull talked.

14 December 2019

Seems the author 'gets' it. This is a vehicle Ford has produced in response to its big brothers huge sales success (F150 Raptor). In the States the Ranger version is not yet sold, one reason being its two small! Most Raptors, be it F150 Raptor or Ranger will be purchased by people who drive almost exclusively on road. As Matt says its really like a supercar - most supercars tool around in urban areas and never get taken to their natural habitat. If Ford can get 50k for a pick-up truck why would'nt they build them?

14 December 2019

What a ridiculas price for a 2 litre truck worth£25k 

14 December 2019

£25k is too much for half a vehicle.

14 December 2019

Blah Blah Blah - your usual tripe, about time you went back to bed and stayed their till your carer comes and sorts you out, i would love to see this drive up and down a 28 degree hill, and go through just under a meter of water without failing, and so on and so on, the Ford is a van with no back, not an off roader, it is a builders truck, that is not capable, with a pokey engine, and vastly overpriced.I tried one and was not that impressed, however the F-150 Raptor is a totally different car, now thats awesome and should be sold here, not the toy version.

16 December 2019

Ford are holding back on this in the USA for exactly the reasons you suggest. The F150 Raptor is the real deal, this is just a builders truck with some 'bling'. 

15 December 2019

The price is too much

16 December 2019

Ford said for many decades that the Mustang wouldn't sell in europe, and that if it did people would want a 4-pot.

How did it work out, Ford, when you finally sold the Mustang in Europe?

People wanted, in the majority, V8s?

Oh, who would have thought it?! - It's the same here.

The Amarok has a v6 and sells...........

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week