The new Ford Ranger Raptor will handle off-roading with steely resolve
Previously, the Ranger Raptor pickup wasn't available in the US, but that's set to change next year.
For years, Americans have coveted a performance pickup, the Ford Ranger Raptor, that has only been available in places like Europe. But that’s set to change.
The 2023 Ranger Raptor is the second generation of a rowdy mid-size pickup, and will be available in the US for the first time sometime next year. This is the third performance truck sporting a Raptor badge made available in America, slotted below the F-150 Raptor pickup and alongside the Bronco Raptor SUV.
When Ford re-launched the Ranger nameplate in 2019, it also built a performance-oriented version called the Ranger Raptor and offered it for sale in Australia, Europe, Mexico, and the Asia-Pacific markets. Basically everywhere that the base Ranger was sold, so was the Raptor—except for the United States. With the new second generation Ranger Raptor, the performance version will be sold alongside its base trim on Ford’s home turf.
Under the hood sits Ford’s widely used twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. This stout engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels using a full-time four-wheel-drive system and a two-speed transfer case. To buyers, this combination of power and capability makes a mid-size truck like the Raptor capable of wreaking havoc both on the road and off the beaten path.
Ford’s official figures for this engine are 284 horsepower and 362 pound-feet of torque, but that’s just for Europe where it will be replacing a much duller diesel four-cylinder. The Australian version of the Raptor Ranger will receive the same engine tuned for 392 HP and 430 lb-ft, a figure much more likely to be seen in the US, though Ford has yet to confirm any official output—just that America will actually receive the truck this time around.
While the pickup’s powerful engine is exciting, it isn’t the reason that most people will run to the dealer for this new Raptor. Instead, the bigger selling points are the off-road-themed appointments shared with its Bronco brethren that make the Ranger capable of taking on a desert basin or even launching out of a low-flying plane.
The suspension itself is built by Fox, a seasoned name to those familiar with off-road performance and other vehicles in the Ford Raptor family. More specifically, the Raptor Ranger uses a set of Fox 2.5-inch Live Valve internal bypass shock absorbers. These shocks use internal valves to change the flow of oil, modifying the suspension’s characteristics to protect against bottoming-out, topping-out, and bucking, all while maintaining a comfortable ride.
This Raptor has some pretty thick scales, too. Hearty steel underbody armor and structural reinforcements ensure that the truck can take the abuse of whatever drivers put it through. All of its suspension-mounting points have been fortified to ensure the truck can handle all of the plane-jumping that the average buyer is sure to do. The truck’s frame has also been beefed up, adding structural reinforcements to areas which might be compromised when hitting the trails (and whatever might be hiding under a big hunk of mud).
Both front and rear differentials are locking, which is an invaluable feature for many hardore off-roaders. A typical differential functions to allow wheels to turn at different speeds, which is what helps to keep traction when a car is going around a turn. But when bringing a vehicle like the Ranger Raptor into its natural habitat, this ability can hinder the truck’s ability to climb uneven, steep, or loose terrain. A locking differential evenly distributes power between wheels to easily carve through sticky situations, which makes climbing rocks a more reasonable task.
Touching the road are hefty 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tires mated to optional 17-inch bead-lock wheels. This combination is shrouded by large fender flares, which add to the modern and muscular appearance of the new mid-size pickup.
Inside, a 12-inch portrait touch screen mimics the premium feel of the Mustang Mach-E, offering the latest version of Ford’s Sync 4A software. There’s also a digital gauge cluster, more splashes of color, and various other bits have been rearranged for ergonomics sake.
Pricing and availability for the U.S. have yet to be announced, but Ford CEO Jim Farley says to expect it to arrive some time in 2023.