Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Ford Ranger Raptor – We have lift-off!

It’s been a long wait, but the highly anticipated next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor has finally made its debut in South Africa. Featuring smarter technology, tougher hardware, mechanical and technical precision, and plenty of raw power, this just might be the ultimate off-road bakkie for true performance enthusiasts.

More power to play

The biggest news for performance fans is the introduction of a new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6 petrol engine, producing 292kW and 583Nm.

The twin-turbo 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6 engine boasts a compacted graphite-iron cylinder block, which is around 75 per cent stronger and up to 75 per cent stiffer than the iron used in traditional castings. Ford Performance ensured the engine delivers immediate response to throttle inputs, and a race-bred anti-lag system (available in the Baja drive mode), enables rapid delivery of boost on demand by keeping the turbochargers spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle.

This enables faster resumption of acceleration out of corners or between gears when the driver gets back on the accelerator.

Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Ranger Raptor’s new engine delivers effortless acceleration on tarmac, gravel, dirt, mud and sand. And, with an electronically controlled active exhaust system that amplifies the engine note in four selectable drive modes (Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja), the Next-Gen Ranger Raptor’s vocal character ranges from mild to wild.

Hardware for the heavy hitters

The chassis of the Ranger Raptor is different to that of the ‘regular’ Ranger. A series of unique mounts and reinforcements – for elements including the C-pillar, load box and spare wheel – as well as unique frames for the jounce bumper, shock tower and rear shock bracket all combine to ensure that the Raptor can handle punishing off-road conditions.

It also features a completely redesigned suspension. All-new tough, lightweight aluminium upper and lower control arms, long-travel front and rear suspension and refined Watt’s link rear end have been designed to deliver more control across rough terrain at high speed.

The suspension upgrades in the Next-Gen Ranger Raptor make the most of the new FOX Live Valve dampers. The next-generation FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers with cutting-edge control technology offer position-sensitive damping capability. These shock absorbers are filled with Teflon infused oil that reduces friction by around 50 per cent. This allows the suspension to adapt in real time to the driving conditions, providing exceptional on-road body control while absorbing corrugations and bigger ruts off-road with ease, ensuring maximum control and performance. 

While the hardware is FOX, the tuning and development work was carried out by Ford Performance using a mixture of computer-aided engineering (CAE) and real-world testing. Everything from adjusting the spring rates to setting the ride height, valve tuning and honing the ride zones was performed to create the perfect balance between comfort, control, stability and traction on and off-road, with three settings available to the driver: Normal, Sport and Off Road. Linked to the revised selectable drive modes, the Live Valve Internal Bypass system has been developed to provide better on-road comfort and off-road ride quality both at high and low speed.

In addition to the suspension and exhaust modes, drivers can select from four steering modes from the specially tuned electronic power-assisted steering (EPAS): Normal, Sport, Comfort and Off-Road – the latter is only available when Baja Drive Mode is selected. The system uses a larger EPAS motor with a faster steering ratio, and delivers improvements in steering effort, response and precision. In Baja mode the steering is specially tuned to sharpen response and precision, assisting the driver to position and control the vehicle with even greater accuracy.

Next-Gen Ranger Raptor’s ability to tackle rough terrain is further enhanced with some serious underbody protection. The front bash plate is almost double the size of the standard Ranger bash plate and made from 2.3mm-thick high-strength steel.

All terrain control

For the first time, the Ranger Raptor gets an advanced permanent four-wheel drive system with an all-new electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case. This is combined with the standard rear locking differential, as well as a new front locking differential that takes the vehicle’s off-road capability to new heights.

Replacing the part-time four-wheel drive system in the previous model, the newcomer’s permanent 4WD system’s default driving mode is 4A (Automatic) which can be used on and off-road as it constantly adjusts the flow of drive between the front and rear axles for enhanced traction in all conditions. The driver can select 2H mode via the push-button controls to engage rear-wheel drive only, or 4H to lock it into four-wheel drive for improved grip and control on loose surfaces.

Ensuring that the Raptor can handle anything from smooth tar roads to mud, ruts, rocks and desert sand – and everything in between – are seven selectable drive modes that adjust a wide range of vehicle parameters, from engine and transmission to ABS sensitivity and calibration, traction and stability controls, exhaust valve actuation, steering, throttle response and even the instrument cluster and centre touchscreen. And, depending on the mode, the graphics and colour scheme of the digital displays changes to match the mode.

The Ranger Raptor also comes with Trail Control, which is like cruise control for off-roading. The driver simply selects a set speed (less than 32km/h), and the vehicle manages acceleration and braking while the driver concentrates on steering through difficult terrain.

Providing further customisability is the new ‘R’ button located on the steering wheel which activates MyMode settings. This allows the driver to pre-program every aspect of the vehicle’s performance according to their unique preferences, making these available at the push of a single button. MyMode parameters determine the selected drive mode, along with the steering, suspension and exhaust settings, stability and traction control status, as well as Trail Control. 

High-energy design

Matching the enhanced capability is an all-new design that takes the Next-Gen Ranger Raptor to the next level. Emphasising the width of the vehicle are flared wheel arches, Ford truck DNA C-clamp headlights derived from the Next-Gen Ranger, bold lettering on the grille, and the bumper that’s separated from the grille.

Matrix LED headlights with LED daytime running lights make their debut on the Next-Gen Ranger Raptor, pushing lighting performance to new levels. Featuring dynamic bending lights, glare-free high beam and auto dynamic levelling, the Matrix LEDs deliver safer lighting for Next-Gen Ranger Raptor drivers as well as oncoming traffic.

The flared fenders accommodate a muscular 17-inch wheel design wrapped in 285/70 R17 BF Goodrich® all-terrain KO2® tyres. Functional vents, aero features, and tough, new-design cast aluminium side steps help enhance the look and functionality of the vehicle. At the rear, LED taillights provide a signature link to the front, while the precision grey rear bumper features an integrated step pad and towbar that is tucked up high to increase the departure angle from 24 to 25 degrees.

Inside, the design theme further emphasises the performance-oriented, high-energy nature of the exterior. The Raptor boasts a fully digital cabin, with a high resolution 12.4-inch digital cluster and a 12-inch centre touchscreen boasting Ford’s new-generation SYNC 4A connectivity and entertainment system, which offers both Apple and Android wireless smartphone connectivity, along with wireless charging. Type A and Type C USB charging and data ports are provided in the front centre console, with a useful USB charging port located alongside the rear-view mirror to power a dashcam or GPS device.

Rear passengers have access to their own USB-A and USB-C charging ports, complemented by a built-in 400-Watt inverter that also provides convenient 240V power to the load box in conjunction with a 12V socket. A premium 10-speaker 660W Bang & Olufsen sound system provides exceptional acoustics that will certainly please music lovers.

Integrated into the 12-inch centre touchscreen is a 360-degree camera system with split-view display. The system uses cameras mounted in the front grille, under the tailgate badge and in the sideview mirrors, giving the driver a live top-down view of everything around the vehicle, as well as cross-traffic views in front of and behind the vehicle.

There is also a dedicated Off-road SYNC screen that allows the driver to easily toggle selected 4×4 features on or off, including the electronic front and rear differential locks, Hill Descent Control and parking sensors. It also displays a wide range of off-road driving information such as predictive overlay guidelines for the 360-degree camera system, along with steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles, which are particularly useful when driving in challenging off-road terrain.

Driver assist technologies

The Ranger Raptor comes loaded with Ford’s most advanced driver assist technologies and safety features to date. In addition to the regular suite of driving aids such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control, the standard features include Lane Keeping

System with Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Road Edge Detection.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Lane Centering allows drivers to maintain a pre-set speed and distance from the car ahead and will even bring the vehicle to a complete stop if required. In addition, Evasive Steer Assist uses radar and a camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead and provides steering support to enable drivers to manoeuvre around a vehicle if a collision is imminent.

The Blind Spot Information System with Trailer Coverage monitors blind spots around the vehicle and trailer and alerts the driver of any perceived hazards. To make parking manoeuvres a breeze, the Raptor is equipped with the fully automated Active Park Assist 2.0 which helps the driver fit safely in tight spaces at the press of a button. It is integrated with the electronic E-Shifter and electronic parking brake, and takes care of the steering, gearshifts, acceleration and braking to navigate into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces with ease. It will also steer the vehicle out of a parallel parking spot when prompted.

Pre-Collision Assist with Dynamic Brake Support, Forward Collision Warning and Automated Emergency Braking can automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of accidents if the driver is turning across the path of oncoming traffic. Reverse Brake Assist helps drivers reverse into parking spots and other tight spaces by providing audible and visual warnings. It is able to detect a vehicle crossing, or a cyclist or pedestrian behind the vehicle too. The system can even bring the vehicle to a complete stop if the driver doesn’t react in time.

In the event of a collision, Post-Collision Braking applies moderate brake pressure to slow the vehicle, potentially reducing injury, damage and the risk of a secondary collision.

  • The Ranger Raptor 3.0L V6 EcoBoost 4WD 10AT has a price tag of R1 094 900. This includes a standard is a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and a five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first. Customers have the option of purchasing a Ford Protect service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 165 000km. The warranty can be extended up to seven years or 200 000km, while the roadside sssistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.

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