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Features / 10-19-18

2019 Ford Ranger Raptor

The Ultimate Sport Truck


By Kevin C. Limjoco

 

In all the years that I’ve been testing/reviewing cars, combined with the inevitability of global EV/Hybrid standardization to help save our planet, I would not have predicted the massive growth of trucks in all sizes in almost every market where they are available. Trucks are the very antithesis of the burgeoning EV/Hybrid/Alternative Fuel industry.

But I appreciate the fundamental reasons why trucks continue to be one the fastest growing segments in the entire industry. It comes down to effective utility under load and duress. As great as the new breed of non-combustion engine-motivated vehicles are, there are no current full production models available that can carry heavy loads over great distances and over multiple terrains like a modern truck. And the champion series of them all began with the full-size 1stgeneration Ford SVT Raptor back almost a decade ago based on the old steel chassis. We tested the very best variant at the time powered by a rowdy normally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 with 411 bhp and 434 lb.-ft of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission. That SVT beast ripped through tarmac from rest to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds with an electronic speed governor halting forward fun at 157 km/h (98 mph). It was very thirsty though so thankfully it had a huge fuel tank because it needed it with best fuel mileage achieved at 11 mpg in the City and 16 mpg on the highway. The SVT Raptor already featured the fabulous Fox Racing internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs which gave 11 inches of additional suspension travel up front, and 12 inches at the rear compared to the standard F-150. It also came with bespoke 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires with 315 mm widths, a rear-locking differential, and a final gear ratio of 4.10:1. It was incredible and I described it at the time as a CUCV on steroids, flawed but still brilliant.

The current generation Ford F-150 Raptor followed, after a couple of years in dormancy, dropped the SVT moniker along with almost 500 pounds of weight thanks to the very generous amounts of applied aluminum and high-strength steel. We tested it last year but the folks in the Bay Area found us obnoxious. Both Isabel Delos Reyes and I described the F-series Raptor as an Olympic-grade HUMVEE! Like its predecessor, the Raptor is an extremely capable off-road vehicle produced in SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations with a model-exclusive and usable 5.5-foot rear bed, but it can also be driven comfortably on the road despite its width and extra height. The fabulous BFGoodrich tires are a paragon for all-terrain capability as long as you keep the speed at below or no more than the S-rating 180 km/h (112 mph). They do not howl like other off-road tires, and they grip variable terrain as tenaciously as supreme high-performance tires do on the road! Come to think of it, cleverly, Ford engineers obviously worked very closely with BFGoodrich on these excellent tires and perhaps calculated that they wanted to create the most formidable sport truck that cannot be touched by any other competitor within its action-band from 0-180 km/h under any surface condition!

Now the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost F-150 Raptor is more spacious, more thoughtful, and considerably more agile than before with even more sustainable speed, 0-100 km/h arrives in 5.2 seconds with the speed governor intervening at 171 km/h (107 mph). Fuel consumption improved slightly to 15 mpg in the City and 18 mpg in the Highway considering power went up further to 450 bhp and 510 lb.-ft of torque channeled through the first application of the new 10-speed automatic gearbox. The Raptor is fitted with a torque-on-demand transfer case, and uses a more robust Fox Racing suspension system with even more travel on both ends:13-inches up front and 13.9-inches at the rear.

So, you all can now visualize me receiving an official invitation by Ford Philippines to thoroughly test the all-new mid-size Ford Ranger Raptor, I was ecstatic! I already had a very full schedule of testing vehicles in North America, 13 models in the bank thus far yet I was more than willing to take the journey from California to Darwin, Australia even for literally two days and one night. It was worth it. Not only do I get to experience a location where I had never been, but I got to enjoy it with my Philippine media colleagues which warmly included my Philippine Star broadsheet editor Manny Delos Reyes, and Ford Philippines Communications Manager EJ Francisco, while meeting the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) team that collaborated on what they proudly proclaim as the latest official member to the FPV family! That last statement is a very big deal by the way. FPV would never fully endorse and commit to a product that did not properly qualify to the high-performance standards set by the group. The fantastic FPV model range are the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Mustang GT350®, and the GT supercar. Of the 6 vehicles mentioned, I proudly have yet to test only the new GT. I did test its predecessor though back in 2004. So, the Ranger Raptor isn’t just a standard truck with an aftermarket body kit. The blistered fenders on both ends are completely unique and serve passive purpose to not just accommodate the considerably wider tracks but also improve aerodynamics and brake cooling. Even the new quick water draining step-boards are made mostly of magnesium for strength and lightness as theyalso help protect the body from flying rock and debris.

Let us get something out in the open, I haven’t personally owned a pick-up truck since the early 90’s and I have never wanted to own one as badlyas I do now with the new Ranger Raptor! Unlike with its big brother the F-series Raptor which is obviously plenty quick but carries with it quite a few compromises like fuel thirst, outright size, and more critically, more compelling variants in the healthy range that may be more appropriate, the Ranger Raptor in contrast is not a one-trick pony but is the absolute best of the breed and has no equal in any category.

The Ranger Raptor has everything I want in a truck for the Philippines. The Ford Ranger is a very good truck. We did own a 3.2-liter Wildtrak in our C! Fastfleet for a time but it did not complete me;the Ranger Raptor does. There is a massively long list of updates built over the standard Ranger. Too many to mention here at this point, but I will give you some highlights. Let us begin with the brakes;the current Wildtrak uses 11.9-inch (302 mm) front vented discs supported with rear drums. The Raptor uses appropriately upgraded 13.07-inch (332 mm) front and with slightly narrower but identical diameter rear vented discs. The perfectly calibrated long-travel Fox Racing internal-bypass dampers are used on all corners for extreme compression and rebound, the independent front suspension uses forged-aluminum upper control arms and cast-aluminum lowers, the coil-sprung rear instead of leaf springs (what the current Ranger uses) uses a Watt’s linkage that locates the live axle laterally and features an electronically controlled locking differential. The Ranger Raptor floats controllably and does not wallow clumsily. Even when at one point in our journey from the city of Darwin to Tipperary Station (a distance of over 143 kilometers of mixed surfaces that leads to a private, almost 210,000 hectare property, roughly twice the size of Hong Kong), Manny and I literally soared airborne at a tick over 160 km/h as we jumped over one of the deepest cattle grids yet landed without any drama aside from Manny losing his breath and the grip on his smartphone!

The Ranger uses the same design wheels as its big brother but with slightly less BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 rubber at 285/70R17 mounted on 17” x 8.5” alloys. There is a lingering rumor that the all-new North America-bound Bronco will in fact be an Everest with the combined engineering from the purposeful Ranger Raptor but without the diesel engine. The build quality is exceptional with the handsome Ranger Raptor;it was comprehensively tweaked for tighter and more consistent panel gaps. The headlights now have HID and the foglamps are LED. I wish the rear lights got the new LED signature assemblies that the upcoming North America Rangers will get though. The completely redone interior features the very best truck cabin ever, every seat is supportive, good looking, and ultra-comfortable. The new standard Sync 3 infotainment system sounds better than the Sony units found on the Everest Titanium models. The red central top tab on the fabulous steering wheel with ceramic paddle shifts are fantastic, it’s the best steering wheel that Ford has built for our market. It can wade through deeper water at 850 mm making it the very best in the region. Then there is the engine. The small and light sequential longitudinal inline-4 intercooled twin-turbodiesel 2.0-liter makes more energetic power than the 3.2-liter inline-5 unit found in both the current Ranger and Everest combined with a perfectly calibrated 10-speed automatic gearbox that expertly manages all that thrust while yielding outstanding fuel economy further aided by standard Start/Stop auto ignition that can be disabled.

Compared to the current Ranger DoubleCab Wildtrak, the dimensions of the Ranger Raptor are not much bigger: 46 mm more ground clearance, 44 mm longer, 25 mm wider with mirrors, 25 mm taller, same wheelbase, 150 mm wider tracks, and 110 kg. lighter, so it’s only marginally bigger but it’s exponentially more agile while it wafts along with sublime ease and pace.

We drove the living hell out of the Ranger Raptor over some of the worst terrain that I have ever traversed in my life, in multiple test stages, using every special drive mode, and the truck never broke a sweat. It was very easy to pilot in town and on the highway, handling better than any truck with total composure even at speed. In fact, I was more impressed with its on-road handling that would best many sporting sedans and crossovers. My worry is that the accomplished Ranger Raptor may even generate too much confidence and push drivers to do the insane! Folks, as great as the new Ranger Raptor is, you still must have to work with physics and sanity! It may be the most agile, the best braking, and the most balanced sport truck ever but there are still physical limits.

The Ranger Raptor is the very top triathlete in the trucking class. What it lacks in outright acceleration from rest is more than made up with its monumental ability to maintain speed as it jumps, crawls, wades through rivers, and dodges wildlife (we avoided red kangaroos, wallabies, possums, western brown snakes, mulga also known as the king brown snake, black breasted buzzards, ospreys, a wedge-tailed eagle as it fed on a mid-size wallaby and a myriad of roadkill that looked mostly like marsupials). The mid-range power-band, which is the most usable for daily-driver use, is one of the most effective, besting many more powerful regular cars on the road.

Having tested both its bigger brothers, I can tell you all with absolute conviction that we are getting the very best balanced and most exploitable sport truck ever produced. I just hope it is priced aggressively as it looks so that more people get to enjoy and experience a truly special vehicle that can be driven every day with one of the best engine notes too.

      

Specifications

Engine

EngineInline-4
Cylinder Head1996 cc, dohc 16V
Fuel InjectorDirect Injection Intercooled Twin-Turbodiesel
Max Power (bhp @ rpm)211 bhp @ 3750 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)369 lb-ft @ 1750-2000 rpm
Transmission10-Speed AT

Performance

Top Speed170 km/h (106 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph10.4 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l)25 mpg (9.4 l/100 kms.) City / 32 mpg (7.5 l/100 kms.) Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP)Php 1,898,000
What's GreatGreat looking! May not be blistering from naught but it is truly the most athletic and comfortable sport truck ever! Very efficient! Absorbs tough surfaces like a sponge
What's Not SoI’m nitpicking again but I wish that the rear light assembly was LED, that we get the B&O audio option, and there are no rear passenger a/c vents
C! Editors Rating10/10