From rocky terrain to everyday tar, the Raptor excels on all surfaces.
From rocky terrain to everyday tar, the Raptor excels on all surfaces.

Six months with the Ford Ranger Raptor, the master of all terrains

By Jason Woosey Time of article published Mar 18, 2021

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Long-term test wrap-up: Ford Ranger Raptor

JOHANNESBURG - I felt guilty, but I did it anyway. It was my turn to spend some time with our long-term Ford Ranger Raptor after my colleague Willem van de Putte had taken it on a 3500km adventure that centred around the Richtersveld 4x4 Eco Route in the Northern Cape, and all I could think about was loading it with garden refuse.

In my defense, an abnormally wet summer had turned my small suburban refuge into a miniature version of the Amazon rainforest, and yes, even the cheapest workhorse bakkie would have done the job, but it somehow felt so much cooler doing it in the Raptor.

So how did it fare as a load lugger? Just fine, as you’d expect, the only inconvenience being that its height makes it a little harder to load and step onto, but that’s really a small price to pay for all the other awesome stuff that this ‘monster truck’ can do.

After it dawned on me that I’d actually had the nerve to treat this badass bakkie like it was actually a bakkie, the guilt got the better of me and I decided to hit the open road to stretch its legs a little. This included a trip out to the Magaliesburg area, where we were able to stretch its legs on some dusty paths, and that only cemented the notion that the Raptor really is a champion of all terrains.

I knew that after driving it on dunes, salt pans and rocky trails at its launch in the Northern Cape back in 2019 and in the six months that this black Raptor has been in our long-term test fleet, it has seen its fair share of terrain. This included a four-day four day excursion along a river bed in Limpopo, Ford’s Leeuwenkloof 4x4 course and the highly technical Diggers Hole 4x4 route near Cullinan.

It’s biggest adventure, of course, was Willem’s aforementioned Orange River Odyssey (read the full story here), and although there were a few hiccups along the way - such as a loose jockey wheel anchoring the vehicle into soft sand, a destroyed wheel bearing on the 4x4 trailer and a gashed tyre - the Raptor absolutely cruised through some of the toughest terrain that this country has to offer.

“Only when you’ve driven what we did, still fully loaded, do you understand and appreciate the Fox suspension that’s fitted to the Raptor. It’s astounding how it handles the uneven dirt and turns at speed,” Willem said after the trip.

“Not once did I feel as though things were going to get out of control or we would end up next to the road as we passed miles and miles of barbed wire fencing. I’ve driven many cars over the years and experienced all sorts of terrain and I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation, that there is not one vehicle in that category off the showroom floor that would have been able to keep up or that wouldn’t have ended up damaged or worse,” Willem added.

But how does it cope with everyday life in the Urban Jungle?

We were actually quite surprised at how well it coped with city life. Sure, its size and width makes it hard to park, but then a normal Hilux is no cinch either. What impressed us the most though was its ride quality - thanks to that sophisticated Watts Linkage rear axle, it’s actually more comfortable on the road than any other ladder-frame bakkie that we’ve driven.

Those specially developed BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres, work wonders off the beaten track but they also make the Ranger impressively agile for a bakkie on tar surfaces, although they can get a little slippery in the wet so some degree of caution is needed when the heavens open.

The Raptor’s 2-litre twin-turbo diesel engine is certainly up to the job of high speed off-roading and in most other situations, including steeper hills, it won’t leave you wanting much. That said, this is a heavy vehicle - being a good 143kg bulkier than the Wildtrak model - and as such it could use a bit more power for things like overtaking on the open road.

Hopefully, then, those rumours about the next-generation Ranger Raptor getting a V6 diesel turn out to be true.

The cabin has all the amenities you’d expect in a top-end bakkie, including a Sync3 infotainment system with a Tracks4Africa route guidance aid.

As for fuel economy, our Raptor drank 9.5 litres per 100km on a 750km freeway trip to the coast, while its 3500km Richtersveld 4x4 adventure saw it average just under 15 l/100km.

All in all, though, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our black long-term Raptor and we were certainly sad to see it go. It really is a champion of all terrains.

IOL Motoring

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