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Ford Ranger 2023 review: Raptor - GVM test

The Raptor is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 petrol engine. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4/5

Ford recently entered its second-generation Ranger Raptor in some of the world’s toughest off-road racing events including the famous Baja 1000. That said a lot about its confidence in the product, given it competed in a class for vehicles in predominantly showroom specification.

The fact that it won its class and finished these events in rude health proved Ford’s confidence was justified.

The company can rightly claim the Raptor is “designed and engineered to dominate the desert, master the mountains” and that it has “raised the off-road performance bar as a pick-up built for true enthusiasts.”

However, there are sure to be tradies and others wanting a Raptor to also serve in a weekday workhorse role, so we recently put the Ranger flagship to the test for a week to see if its off-road prowess can be matched by daily driver practicality.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Raptor is available only with its exclusive 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 petrol engine, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, for a list price of $86,790, plus on-road costs.

Our example is fitted with the optional ‘beadlock capable’ wheels (which lock the tyre beads to the rims for high performance applications) that add $2000, along with 'Conquer Grey' prestige paint ($700) and Raptor decal pack ($500) which bump the list price to $89,990.

There's Matrix LED headlights with auto-levelling and dynamic bending plus signature ‘C-clamp’ LED daytime running lights. (Image: Mark Oastler) There's Matrix LED headlights with auto-levelling and dynamic bending plus signature ‘C-clamp’ LED daytime running lights. (Image: Mark Oastler)

As you’d expect for a ute nudging $90K, the Raptor is loaded with desirable features in addition to its unique drivetrain, chassis and suspension hardware.

This starts with 17-inch alloy wheels wearing meaty 285/70 R17 BF Goodrich KO2 high performance all-terrain tyres with a matching spare.

Our example is fitted with the optional ‘beadlock capable’ wheels. (Image: Mark Oastler) Our example is fitted with the optional ‘beadlock capable’ wheels. (Image: Mark Oastler)

There’s also Matrix LED headlights with auto-levelling and dynamic bending plus signature ‘C-clamp’ LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and LED tail-lights, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, spray-in bed-liner, 12-volt power outlet in the load tub, cast-aluminium side-steps, steel underbody protection, dual recover hooks front and rear and more.

Also standard is a 2500kg towbar with integrated trailer-brake controller and trailer-light check.

12.4-inch multi-function touchscreen. (Image: Mark Oastler) 12.4-inch multi-function touchscreen. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Inside, occupants are indulged with sumptuous leather-accented seating including 10-way power-adjustable and heated driver and front passenger seats, two-way adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel with cast-magnesium paddle-shifters, leather gear-knob, auxiliary switch bank for controlling numerous accessories, two 12-volt outlets, USB ports, wireless phone-charging, dual-zone climate, etc.

Plus there’s a 10-speaker multimedia system with Ford’s latest 'Sync 4A' voice-activated control, wireless Apple/Android connectivity, digital radio and big 12.4-inch multi-function touchscreen. There’s also benchmark driver assistance and safety tech plus numerous factory options.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

From any angle this looks like one tough bruiser, from its unique pumped-out guards and wheel-arch extensions, to its ornate grille with protruding F-O-R-D lettering and chiselled LED headlights, to its chunky off-road tyres and long-travel suspension that give it such a purposeful look and imposing presence.

Underneath is a unique version of the Ranger’s ladder-frame chassis, beefed-up in key areas to handle Baja-grade abuse.

The coil-spring front suspension has aluminium control arms to minimise un-sprung weight while the multi-link coil-spring live rear axle gets a robust Watts linkage and wrist-thick trailing arms to keep it in line over the rough stuff. Four ventilated disc brakes provide ample stopping power.

From any angle this looks like one tough bruiser. (Image: Mark Oastler) From any angle this looks like one tough bruiser. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Soaking up the bumps are Ford-developed FOX 2.5-inch 'Live Valve Internal Bypass' dampers, which are linked to the Raptor’s selectable drive modes to deliver immediate and noticeable changes in handling response and ride quality for on- and off-road driving.

The interior is a nice combination of leather accents and eye-catching splashes of 'Code Orange' on the instrument panel, air-vents, seam-stitching and bolstered sports seats.

There are also orange Raptor insignias on the headrests and steering wheel, plus Ford Performance logos on the kick-plates.

Rear seat comfort is good, even for tall people like me. With the driver’s seat in my position, the concave shape of the front seat backrests allows knee clearance when I'm seated behind it and a similar contour in the roof-lining provides ample headroom.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The Raptor’s substantial off-road armoury contributes to a hefty 2475kg kerb weight which, when combined with its 3130kg GVM, results in a relatively small 717kg payload rating. In pure workhorse terms, that could be a deal-breaker for some.

It’s also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer, which is one tonne less than the standard Ranger. And with its 5370kg GCM, or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time, towing 2500kg would leave only 395kg of payload capacity.

That could easily be used up just by a crew of four adults with no luggage. A practical solution would be to base the towing limit on the Raptor’s 3130kg GVM instead, which lowers the towing limit to 2240kg (still a sizeable trailer) and maintains the maximum 717kg payload.

  • 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior
  • 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior
  • 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor I Interior

The load tub, which is protected by a tough spray-in liner, is 1541mm long and 1578mm wide with a depth of 526mm and 1218mm between the wheel housings. That means it can carry either an 1165mm-square Aussie pallet or 1200 x 800mm Euro pallet. There are six load-anchorage points and the tailgate has lift-assistance.

Ample cabin storage includes small and large bottle holders and bins in each front door, pop-out cupholders on each side of the dash plus upper and lower glove boxes separated by a storage shelf.

Ample cabin storage includes small and large bottle holders and bins in each front door. (Image: Mark Oastler) Ample cabin storage includes small and large bottle holders and bins in each front door. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The centre console offers two small-bottle/cupholders plus a box with padded lid that doubles as an elbow rest.

Rear seat passenger get bottle holders and small bins in each door, plus pockets on the front seat backrests and a fold-down centre armrest containing two small-bottle/cupholders.

The load tub, which is protected by a tough spray-in liner, is 1541mm long and 1578mm wide with a depth of 526mm and 1218mm between the wheel housings. (Image: Mark Oastler) The load tub, which is protected by a tough spray-in liner, is 1541mm long and 1578mm wide with a depth of 526mm and 1218mm between the wheel housings. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The seat base can swing up and be stored vertically when more internal load space is required. This reveals two spacious underfloor storage compartments, which, with the seat lowered, provide hidden space for valuables.

Under the bonnet – what are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The 3.0-litre twin-turbo 'EcoBoost' petrol V6 produces 292kW (392bhp) at 5650rpm and 583Nm of torque at 3500rpm, although generous servings of both are available either side of those optimum figures.

The anti-lag system (available in Baja mode) keeps the turbos spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle, ensuring immediate response when acceleration resumes.

This is paired with a 10-speed torque converter automatic and dual-range transfer case. The driver can choose between 2WD High, 4WD High, 4WD Low and 4WD Auto; the latter being a full-time torque-sensing 4WD system.

The 3.0-litre twin-turbo 'EcoBoost' petrol V6 produces 292kW (392bhp) at 5650rpm and 583Nm of torque at 3500rpm. (Image: Mark Oastler) The 3.0-litre twin-turbo 'EcoBoost' petrol V6 produces 292kW (392bhp) at 5650rpm and 583Nm of torque at 3500rpm. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The Raptor also has front and rear diff-locks and the driver can choose from seven drive modes comprising three on-road ('Normal'/'Sport'/'Slippery') and four off-road ('Rock Crawl'/'Sand'/'Mud&Ruts'/'Baja'); the latter tuned for high-speed off-road performance.

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

The raptor comes with 'Trail Control' which is like cruise control for off-roading. (Image: Mark Oastler) The raptor comes with 'Trail Control' which is like cruise control for off-roading. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Although inspired by desert racing, features like Trail Control show that the Raptor is also a capable overlander.

Drivers can further fine-tune to their liking with different steering feel ('Normal'/'Comfort'/'Sport') and exhaust notes ('Quiet'/'Normal'/'Sport'/'Baja'). Like the drive modes, Baja is the most aggressive profile in exhaust note and volume!

Efficiency – what is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Ford claims an official combined cycle figure of 11.5L/100km but the Raptor’s dash display was showing 13.7 at the completion of our 356km test, of which about one third was hauling its near-maximum payload.

Our own figure was higher again at 14.6, calculated from fuel bowser and trip meter readings.

Therefore, based on Ford’s figures the driving range from its 80-litre tank is around 690km, or closer to 550km based on ours. And it can drink regular (91-octane) petrol.

Driving - what’s it like to drive?

There are handles on the A pillars to assist climbing aboard and the front seats (inspired by jet fighters, apparently) provide terrific lateral support for the lower and upper body to hold the driver firmly in place.

The seat’s multiple power adjustments, combined with a left footrest and two-way adjustable wheel, allow peerless positioning.

It feels tank-tough and designed around the driver. The Raptor’s unique long-travel Baja suspension delivers a remarkably supple yet disciplined ride quality, regardless of road or terrain.

Floor the throttle and the twin-turbo V6, with its slick-shifting 10-speed auto and raspy exhaust, responds with an instant and unrelenting forward thrust.

From a standing start it can hit triple-digits faster than you’d expect for a high-riding dual cab. (Image: Mark Oastler) From a standing start it can hit triple-digits faster than you’d expect for a high-riding dual cab. (Image: Mark Oastler)

As revs rapidly rise, there’s a seamless transition from almost 600Nm of torque at 3500rpm to 292kW of power at 5650rpm that belies the Raptor’s 2.4-tonne heft.

From a standing start it can hit triple-digits faster than you’d expect for a high-riding dual cab.

Manual-shifting using the paddles is primarily designed for optimum driver input and control during high-speed off-roading, but is also handy when carrying and/or towing heavy loads, particularly in hilly terrain.

Fact is, the Raptor is just as happy being driven sedately around town or hauling a heavy payload.

It can be just as docile when highway cruising, too, requiring less than 2000rpm to maintain 110km/h using adaptive cruise control.

At these speeds, engine and wind noise are very low. The tyres are also pleasantly muted, despite their aggressive off-road tread patterns.

To test its GVM rating, we forklifted 565kg into the load tub which with driver equalled a 655kg payload that was only about 60kg below its legal limit. (Image: Mark Oastler) To test its GVM rating, we forklifted 565kg into the load tub which with driver equalled a 655kg payload that was only about 60kg below its legal limit. (Image: Mark Oastler)

To test its GVM rating, we forklifted 565kg into the load tub which with driver equalled a 655kg payload that was only about 60kg below its legal limit. The coil-spring rear suspension displayed its supple design by compressing more than 90mm.

Even so, there was no bottoming-out over bumps, probably due to the FOX shocks’ 'Bottom-Out Control' which provides maximum damping force in the last 25 per cent of shock travel. It rode very smoothly with negligible effect on steering and braking response.

It also made light work of our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km set climb at 60km/h. In auto mode the Raptor quickly downshifted to sixth gear and 2000rpm to easily haul its load to the summit.

Engine-braking on the way down, in a manually-selected second gear, was just as effective. Although we never touched the brake pedal, road speed stayed below the posted 60km/h limit and revs never exceeded 5000rpm on overrun (6200rpm redline). This powertrain would be well suited to numerous load-hauling and/or towing tasks.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

There’s no ANCAP rating (as yet) even though all other 'Next-Gen' Ranger variants boast a five-star rating achieved in 2022.

Even so, it’s got nine airbags and is loaded with active safety including AEB, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and trailer coverage, evasive steer assist, reverse brake assist, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring and more.

There are also front and rear parking sensors, rear-view and 360-degree cameras plus ISOFIX and top tethers for child restraints on the two outer seating positions.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Five years/unlimited km warranty. Scheduled servicing every 12 months/15,000km whichever occurs first.

Capped-price servicing for first five scheduled services totals $1645 or $329 per service. Includes an initial 12 months roadside assist and auto club membership, which is renewed with each service at participating Ford dealers.

This is the ultimate Ford Ranger. The turbo V6 delivers the raw firepower a Raptor deserves, yet it can operate just as effectively in a workhorse or family recreational role if its smaller payload/tow ratings are not deal-breakers. Fact is, it’s hard to fault this jigger. It really is that good.

$86,790

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$86,790

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.