2022 Ford Ranger Raptor review

Promising more thrills and pace than its predecessor, the Ford Ranger Raptor is back as the performance version of the firm's pick-up truck. So is it worth considering? We've driven it find out...

Ford Ranger Raptor driving off road, front 2023

On sale Now | Price from £46,300 (exc VAT)

The pick-up truck market has brought us some interesting wannabe-luxury options in recent years, but it doesn’t often do sporty. The Ford Ranger Raptor is a rather unique exception to that rule. The original Raptor was launched in 2019, and now – ahead of the launch of the fifth-generation Ford Ranger in Europe in its many and various forms – there's a new one.

This second-generation Raptor sits at the apex of the Ranger’s model hierarchy, but like the car it replaces, it’s not technically a commercial vehicle. With coil suspension tuned for enhanced on and off-road handling rather than load-carrying, it's rated to carry only 652kg of cargo in its flatbed. That’s some way off the one-tonne minimum required for the truck to qualify as a light commercial vehicle (and to be taxable as such).

So, this Ranger, while still pretty spacious, versatile and useful, is strictly a private buyer’s plaything. You can spot one over a regular version by its flared wheel arches, chunky all-terrain tyres and bold Ford lettering on the front grille in place of the usual oval badge. And, if that’s not enough, you can add decals and a roll-over bar onto the load bed as well.

For now, it comes in one trim level and with a single engine choice, a 3.0-litre, 288bhp V6 turbocharged petrol, which drinks fuel at a predictably juicy official 20.5mpg. For anyone who liked the more moderate thirst of the old version’s 2.0-litre diesel, there will be a direct replacement for that in summer 2023.

Ford Ranger Raptor, side, rear decals, 2023

What’s it like to drive?

The Ranger Raptor is considered a mid-sized pick-up truck in certain parts of the world, but on European roads, it’s imposingly large. Ford offers the car in double-cab body form, with four passenger doors and two rows of seats.

At nearly 5.4 metres long, nearly two metres tall and more than 2.2 metres wide across those generous door mirrors, it makes a typical supermarket car park space feel very small. The large turning circle doesn’t help in multi-storey car parks, either.

The Raptor looms large over any motorway lane, then, but thanks to Ford’s extensive suspension makeover, it rides and handles encouragingly well.

Ford Performance went to considerable lengths to put the ‘special’ into this special Ranger, strengthening its ladder-frame chassis, junking the regular truck’s rear leaf springs, and fitting long-travel coil springs and adaptive shock absorbers at each corner. It also has knobbly-looking off-road tyres, and an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system with locking differentials.

Ford Ranger Raptor off road, rear 2023

Weighing close to 2.5 tonnes, the Raptor doesn’t handle with anything like the energy and grip of a modern sports saloon or a two-seater sports car on the road – and that's no great surprise. 

That said, the hefty steering is precise, while those expensive dampers ensure that cornering is accomplished in a neat and upright fashion, with great body control over bumps. The specialised axles soak up pretty much any dip, crag or pothole with disdainful ease, too, and the Raptor’s motorway ride is unusually settled by pick-up class standards.

The V6 petrol engine is a rather unique offering in the world of pickup trucks and sounds much more appealing than the diesel motors used by the Ranger’s rivals. 

You have four settings to choose from for the exhaust, from entertainingly-loud Baja mode (for off-road use), to Quiet, eliminating any drone on a motorway cruise. There’s also very little road or wind noise to contend with, so it's surprisingly civilised on longer journeys.

Ford Ranger Raptor off-road, uphill 2023

A 202bhp 2.0-litre diesel is due to arrive later this year, but this 288bhp 3.0-litre petrol is the fastest Raptor to cover ground in. Still, despite the extra power the latter engine produces, the level of performance isn’t that transformative compared with the regular Ranger. When you put your foot down, the engine stops some way short of proper muscle-car acceleration. The engine is eager to rev, and the 10-speed automatic gearbox is never short of another ratio to select, but don’t expect that hot hatchback driver to disappear too quickly in your rear-view mirror.

No, it's off the road where the Ranger Raptor really comes into its own. Even though its sheer size and long wheelbase make it a little unwieldy on tighter tracks, ground clearance is a generous 265mm so deep ruts and standing water aren’t a problem. 

The chunky off-road tyres, easy-articulating solid rear axle, hardcore 4x4 driveline and sophisticated traction control software make it the kind of car you really do feel you could drive anywhere – up any incline, and over just about any boulder or drop you might encounter. At higher speeds when running on a Baja-style gravel or dirt track, and even jumping like a rallycross car, the vehicle can take an extraordinary amount of punishment and still come back for more.

Ford Ranger Raptor 2023 interior

What’s it like inside?

This is the first fifth-generation Ford Ranger model we’ve tested and it augurs pretty well for the less exotic versions. Adult occupant space is good in both rows, and equipment specification – as far as range-topping pick-ups go – is high. 

The material used for the interior is mostly of a respectable quality. There’s some suede-like material on the dash and the soft-touch plastics on the doors help it feel a little more plush, but the majority of the plastics used are harder to the touch and feel like they're made to endure scuffs. The Raptor also gets red highlights on the seats, steering wheel and dash to lift the ambience.

You also get electrically adjustable sports front seats that are comfortable, easy to slide into and adequately supportive (a longer-legged driver might wish for a longer seat base).

The Raptor goes quite large on its secondary transmission and drive mode controls. There are buttons for suspension, engine and exhaust mode on the steering wheel, a large rotary selector on the centre console for various drive modes (there are a lot of those), and dedicated buttons to control its four-wheel drive system.

Ford Ranger Raptor 2023 steering wheel buttons

It’s a lot to take in at first, until you realise you can discount most of it on the road or simply pick the drive mode you want depending on the surface and let the car work the rest of it out for itself.

The Raptor is otherwise like a high-spec Ranger Wildtrak inside. This means it comes with a 12.4in digital instrument display as standard, which is presented clearly and offers plenty of relevant and useful information. 

Meanwhile, Ford’s updated SYNC4-A infotainment system sits on a 12in portrait-oriented touchscreen in the centre of the dash. At initial glance, there seems to be a lot of information to decipher, but you soon get to grips with the way the screen is divided up into a few sections. 

It looks great, with sharp graphics and lots of useful camera angles of the car’s immediate surroundings when you’re off-roading (or, indeed, parking). Some of the icons are quite small, though, and the air-conditioning portion positioned at the bottom of the screen is tricky to see and aim for. Thankfully, there are physical rotary knobs below for adjusting the temperature that are much easier to locate.

Wireless smartphone charging and wireless device mirroring are both included as standard features, as is a 10-speaker B&O premium audio system with plenty of power.

Next: Ford Ranger Raptor verdict and specs >>

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