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Ford Ranger Raptor. Quite often, it feels underpowered. Yep, it’s true: sometimes it feels like you could really use a bit more motor. And yes, I know, it’s hard to get particularly excited about a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel, regardless of how many turbos it has.

Many have come out in their hordes to deride the Ranger Raptor, purely because of what lies under the bonnet. And I can’t really blame you for doing it, either: I sighed with disappointment when I first read the official specs.

The fact that speculation was rife around high-powered engine options, including V6, diesel and petrol Ecoboost options, didn't help. Ford has a pretty scintillating 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine in its Focus RS (257kW/440Nm), as well as a 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 (239kW/508Nm) in the F-150. The big Yank ute also gets a 3.0-litre diesel 'Powerstroke' V6 option (190kW/596Nm). Oh well.

4WDers like big stuff, and big engines are amongst their favourite things. They love big surges of torque without a dependence on high revs, and a nice rumble emanating from under the bonnet.

The Ranger Raptor doesn’t do this. The engine is advanced, efficient and refined. It’s smooth and muted, even when you’re throttling hard. And the 500Nm at 1750–2000rpm is handy, if a little narrow. It’s just not an engine that you get immediately enthusiastic about in the traditional sense.

That said, the Bi-Turbo four-banger is an overall nice motor. And regardless, the Ranger Raptor is still a very special vehicle, and one that is very worthy of your appreciation and consideration.

Ford has gone to some serious effort in terms of design and engineering to make the Raptor a much different proposition to a Ranger, or any other 4WD ute for that matter. It’s not just some bolt-on flares, black alloys and a contrived name. Let’s run through the good stuff.

Wheel track



Aluminium suspension arms


These are strong and lightweight, reducing unsprung mass to let the suspension move more freely. Pressed steel is much cheaper and heavier, but Ford went to the next level with a more expensive and better-performing option.

Fox shocks


They also have internal bypassing; small bypass holes that let the suspension cycle quickly and freely during the middle of the stroke. When maximum travel is reached in either direction, the shock's piston travels past these bypass holes and damping rates get much firmer, slowing down the speed of the suspension travel. The rears have extra capacity as well, with a small piggyback reservoir.

BFGoodrich tyres


These are a good off-road performer, giving you plenty of additional traction without killing the on-road dynamics. They’re in a good 33-inch size (LT285/70R17) that gives you nice height for extra clearance and capability, and a light truck construction means they are also much more robust.


17-inch wheels



Traction aids


Terrain Management System is Ford speak for different off-road modes, which let you tailor throttle, ESC and gearbox tuning according to what you’re driving. Although experience and good basic driving techniques negate the need for this, it certainly does help the car to be a little easier to handle off-road.

No leaf springs, no drum brakes


V6 AmarokNavaraRAM 1500

Watt's linkage


X-ClassEverest

It also gives a more even articulation from side to side, and handles bump steering much better. Plus, the Raptor’s Watt's link is set up to handle some articulation quite well.


Gearing



Underbody protection



Beefed-up chassis


To help accommodate the upgraded suspension, as well as deal with the stresses that come with high-speed driving, the Raptor’s chassis has been reinforced. Particular stress points have been beefed up, especially around the suspension mounting points.

It’s an awesome car, in my opinion, and a great 4WD. Let’s just hope Ford looks at a few different engine options in the next generation.

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