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What is it?

Ford’s heavily hyped Raptor, the Ranger utility with the mostest.

Even I was a little excited to drive the beast and that says something after the thousands of cars I have tested over the years.

Ranger has been a runaway success for the embattled company and the Raptor is designed to tap into a market that spends anything up to $20,000 customising their new toys after they have bought them.

Ford no doubt figured out it could be pocketing this money instead of giving it away to aftermarket 4×4 suppliers.

Of course, there’s Tickford to consider too, which produces its own version of the Ranger — but that’s another story.

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What’s it cost?

Too much.

The amount of money people pay for what are basically a no frills commercial vehicles is staggering.

The halo Ranger Raptor — cough — retails for $74,990 plus on roads.

Ford is probably going to excommunicate me for saying this, but the thing is the trim and finish don’t really live up to the figure they’re asking.

What’s more, we’ve seen plenty of modified, after market Rangers getting around the traps that look just as tough.

The stance, wheels and wheel arch flares all look tops, as do the trick side steps with slots to stop them clogging up.

But the much vaunted Ford grille is too understated, the Raptor badge on the back is ridiculously small and the last minute Raptor “stickers” on the sides look like they’ll last two years max before they either fade or peel off.

Then there’s the overly plastic cabin, with its cheap, school grey plastic air vent surrounds, plastic speaker grilles and predominantly plastic steering wheel, that’s inexplicably not D-cut — not to mention the tiny embossed but not highlighted Raptor badge on the lower rim.

Seriously? Ford unfortunately has a history of going low when it needs to spend up big or go home.

Take the last ever special edition XR Falcons. They were also disappointingly low key.

There’s plenty of kit to make up for the tackiness, however, with a  powerful twin turbo 2.0-litre diesel, 10-speed auto, unique, long travel suspension setup, impressive 8.0-inch touchscreen with SYNC 3, satnav and all the latest apps — plus a battery of safety systems including automatic emergency braking. Oh, and it’s one of the few utes to get rear disc brakes.

Other features include leather seats garnishes, front and rear sensors, auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and cabin noise cancelling tech.

But where’s the sports bar and roller tonneau cover to protect your gear in the back, even a basic one — one wonders?

Finally, in case you were wondering, the Wildtrak costs $63,990 — $11,000 less.

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What’s it go like?

A few years ago I travelled to Iceland where I had the opportunity to drive some “monster” trucks.

By that I mean utilities that had been heavily modified and rolled on huge balloon style tyres.

The Raptor reminds me of them.

It’s big chunky BF Goodrich rubber, rounded at the edges, delivers the same kind of soft, rolly-polly ride.

Combined with reworked suspension and an impressive 283mm ground clearance, it’s a veritable beast off road, soaking up bumps that would normally reef the wheel from your hands.

There’s no need to tread daintily, to pick your line through rocky terrain, because there’s little chance anything underneath is going to bump, and anyway it’s fitted with heavy steel bash plates.

We took the Raptor down our favourite fire trail, which is divided into two sections, one where high range is okay, the other where low range is usually necessary.

Going down is the easy bit, it’s getting back up again that can be testing and just to make it harder for the Raptor we left it in high range for the entire ascent.

Guess what? It didn’t miss a beat.

Driven and photographed we were about to call it a day when inspiration struck.

Why not do the whole thing again and not engage four wheel drive at all?

Guess what? Apart from a little tyre scrabble which is normal with most 4x4s, it had not trouble getting back up the trail which is in part quite steep and rugged.

We also drove it quite quickly along transport stages of the track too, with great confidence.

So, as far as off roading goes, Raptor is up there with the best of them.

On the road, however, it’s a little disappointing.

That same soft, pillowy suspension translates into plenty of body roll and vague steering — be warned.

Power comes from a new 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine that pumps out 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque, and is paired with a 10-Speed  transmission.

A six-mode Terrain Management System (TMS) includes low- and high-range 4×4 and a locking rear-diff.

The TMS introduces Baja mode, exclusive to Raptor, and Ford says, offers the ultimate off-road performance.

And it can tow 2500kg, well down on its peers.

Rated at 8.2L/100km, we were getting 9.5L after just over 500km.

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What we like?

  • Big and boofy
  • Engineered to take a beating
  • Excellent off road capability
  • Beefed up safety systems

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What we don’t like?

  • Too plastic inside
  • Badging could be more overt
  • So so on road manners
  • Someone forgot to chalk in the lettering on the Goodrich rubber (only joking)

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The bottom line?

$75K is a lot of dough for a ute, even one with the credentials of the Raptor. Think what else that sort of money could buy, a 5.0-litre V8 GT Mustang for instance — no contest here?

CHECKOUT: Final flag fall for a Ford guy

CHECKOUT: Ford unveils new Territory – that’s right!

 

 

Ford Ranger Raptor, priced from $74,990
  • 8/10
    Looks - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Safety - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Thirst - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Practicality - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Comfort - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Tech - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Value - 7/10
7.3/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.