Matt Prior loved running the original, and this one takes everything to another level

Why we’re running it: To see if a Baja-ready pick-up truck can handle the Wild West that is British roads

Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Ford Ranger Raptor: Month 1

Welcoming the Raptor to the fleet - 28 February 2024 

As I write this, I've just stepped out of a Range Rover Sport SV. It's a tremendously able car, with the broadest abilities of any production vehicle on sale.

And yet, and yet: if I had to wake up every morning forever to find just one 4x4 outside my house, I'd still rather it were a Ford Ranger Raptor.

I'm hopelessly smitten by it, which is silly, because I really like small, light cars and this is a 5.4m-long, 2454kg off-roader that typically carries one person (me) and returns only 21mpg, even when I'm not using all of its capabilities, which is always, because it was made for an environment I don't live in.

The spiders, snakes, guns and bears of Australia or America have put me off emigrating so far, but the idea of having a Ranger Raptor and somewhere I could stretch its legs are the sort of things that could have me applying for a residency visa.

For the uninitiated, the Raptor is the Ford Performance variant of the company's staple 'compact pick-up truck. It's a double-cab one with five seats but very different suspension than usual. Its specialist set-up with three-way adjustable dampers by off-road racing expert Fox gives it Baja Rally-style gait, so it can go off road very, very fast.

It has been made even faster in this Raptor by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, an option that Brits were denied last time around, when it was exclusively offered as a four-cylinder diesel. And was still great.


Read our review

Car review

Ford’s European-market performance pick-up has sensational Baja rally-style thrills, and more on-road pace and appeal than its predecessor

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In other markets (such as Australia, where it was largely developed, this engine is allowed to make 392bhp, but for the UK, where we have petrol particulate filters and EU regulations to skirt around, it's limited to 288bhp.

That's enough for a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec, and I will admit that, on British public roads, that's enough. There are times exiting roundabouts when it wouldn't hurt to have more comph to push past a Volkswagen ID 3 driver who will accelerate quickly but stop at 60mph, but there's only so much power and torque the BF Goodrich rear tyres can deploy anyway, especially in the wet or extreme cold.

The Raptor has four-wheel drive, of course, and seven driving modes too, but in its default normal operating mode, it's rear-driven. Presumably that makes it more fuel efficient (although these things are relative) than it is when the front wheels are driven too.

More on how all of these change the rough-road demeanour in a later report, then, but it has coil springs, not air suspension, so the ride height is set and unchangeable, thus offering a tremendous ground clearance and wade depth and approach angle.

The long wheelbase and overhanging load bed reduce the breakover and departure angles to merely very good, but be in no doubt that the aggressive design and the graphics of this Raptor are backed up by its hardware.

Other than a tall clamber into the cabin via a chunky side step, you wouldn't know so much from the inside about the car's ruggedness. Materials and fit are of good quality. Until recently, you wouldn't have said the finish was up to a car of this price, but an electric Vauxhall Astra is £40,000 these days and a Range Rover Sport as much as £170,000, so this Raptor can pass for £60,000 easy.

To me, it feels more like an uprated performance saloon than an uprated pick-up inside, and the standard equipment list is generous too. It means that the list price before options of 260,064, or £63,544 as tested, might seem expensive in the first instance, but given the amount of hardware and software and soft furnishings and sheer metal that you get for the money, and considering what everything else around it costs, it seems far more reasonable.

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Anyway, I will talk more about the off-road hardware later, but for now I'm happy to say that it's the on-road performance I'm particularly taken with. The Raptor has a separate chassis and body, but there's very little evidence from inside the cabin that this offers reduced torsional rigidity in a way that separate-chassis vehicles so often have.

There's no body shake, the interior mirror doesn't shimmy over lumps and bumps and as a result it's refined. Even though it wears potentially very noisy knobbly tyres (which would hum audibly into the cabin on cars like a Jeep Wrangler), the Raptor is quiet at speed and has excellent bump absorbency with it.

The steering is relatively heavy for a modern car (and you can make it even heavier if you push the right buttons), but it takes up weight and feel nicely and its straight-line stability is excellent. There's also a 10-speed automatic gearbox to reduce revs at speed.

As a result, size aside, it's an exceptionally relaxing car to spend time with. I'm not the first to notice its good refinement.

Chatting to my colleague Steve Cropley the other day, he thought he would have a Raptor and the change over a Range Rover, because it's so complete and so compelling. After my initial miles living with it, I'd be tempted to agree that I'd take it over a Range Rover too, regardless of whether or not I got the change.

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Second Opinion

I always think the Raptor is a bit Caterham Seven. Owning one provides an angle on motoring that’s every bit as different and compelling as owning that tiny two-seater, and the fun is available on a far greater variety of roads, in all weathers. A crazy choice the gargantuan Ford may be, but it’s an oddly practical one too.

Steve Cropley

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Ford Ranger Raptor specification

Specs: Price New £60,064 Price as tested £63,544 Options Dress Up Pack 3 (cab roll-over bar and powered tonneau cover) £2160, Code Orange paint £720, Decal Pack £600

Test Data: Engine six-cylinder, 2956cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 288bhp at 5500rpm Torque 362lb ft at 2300rpm Kerb weight 2454kg Top speed 111mph 0-62mph 7.9sec Fuel economy 20.4mpg CO2 315g/km, 37% Faults None Expenses None

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Jeremy 5 March 2024

Judging by the way I see these Rangers parked around town, parking them would appear to be a serious challenge because of their size...

jason_recliner 6 March 2024

Nah, we had a Wildtrak the other day. It's not that much bigger than 4WDs or luxury cars and the 360 degree cameras are amazing. Easier to park than my Cerato, just brilliant. Rides funny though and drones something awful (the diesel)!