We spent a year with the Ford Ranger Raptor SE, and it was an adventure of note

Published Feb 15, 2023


Pretoria - It has been just over a year since we first sat down in the comfortable seats of the Ford Raptor SE and, now, it’s time to bid our Performance Blue long-termer farewell.

I’ll be sad to see it go back to Silverton where it was originally put together. There aren’t any more of these one-of-a-kind double cabs coming off the line locally as the plant focuses exclusively on building the new Ranger for local and international consumption.

As I write this, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is waiting in the wings ready to show us what a 3.0-litre twin turbo with 292kW and 583Nm is capable of.

On the one hand, it’s what fans have been asking for since it was introduced and, on the other, I liked the 2.0-litre diesel bi-turbo.

Look, 157kW and 500Nm can’t really compare but after a year ,I’ve become accustomed to it. While there were times, especially when loaded with four adults and all the kit that goes with for a two-week December holiday, that more power would have come in handy when passing traffic, I adapted my driving style accordingly and always had a blast driving it.

It’s also a lot less frugal than the new one will be, having averaged 9.8l/100km when the keys were handed back.

At a recent international launch in Scotland, an Australian colleague, who owns one, claimed to be averaging 14l/100km. That’s a lot of petrol.

The SE version stands out against the regular version, with parallel stripes across the bonnet, roof and tailgate, sports hoop, black fender trims, grille and door handles and red recovery hooks.

The load bay is also covered by a manual Mountain Top roller shutter. While it makes things a lot safer from prying eyes and keen fingers, it does limit your packing space to exactly the height of the shutter. With a tonneau cover, you can stretch it over a bit if things are too tall.

Red stitching on the steering wheel, instrument panel and door panel, as well as a raceway grey instrument panel, always made the cabin a pleasant place, whether driving or in the passenger seat.

Whether it was for the school run, a braai with mates, a weekend away or a day out with friends on a 4x4 track, I would grab the keys and drive it, even if it meant a little less time with one of our regular test cars.

There were two trips, however, that showcased everything the Raptor stands for in a significant way.

A group of us, in Raptors, headed to Lesotho to drive almost impossible tracks and wild camp for two nights. It poured with rain for most of our time there, making things even more treacherous. There were even a few hairy moments that saw one or two almost edge a cliff face that fell down a few hundred metres.

We used all the 283mm ground clearance, 32.5 degree approach angle, 24 degree breakover and departure angle, part of the 850mm wading depth and the rear differential lock to traverse muddy roads and rocky two spoor donkey trails.

It didn’t put a foot wrong despite some rock rash on the rims and bumpers. Follow the link below to read more about that adventure:

We tackled near impossible Lesotho trails in a Ford Ranger Raptor SE

The second was a holiday drive to the South Coast, using as many dirt roads and mountain passes as possible.

We had four adults and a full load bay driving muddy roads mostly (seems to be a recurring theme), stopping for a braai rather than over- or under-cooked franchise food. On our way home, we managed to find the route Piet Retief used to cross the Drakensberg. Read more below:

The long and rocky route to KZN in our Ford Ranger Raptor SE

These are the roads and memories that the Raptor was designed for, otherwise you might as well opt for a run-of-the-mill SUV.

It’s also why the specially designed Fox suspension has been fitted. It soaks up bumps, potholes and corrugated dirt roads incredibly well and when you push Baja mode, it shines through.

There was one occasion where I followed a guy who was testing his specialised rally V8 pipe car close to where live. The look on his face? Priceless. I couldn’t keep up with him but I’m sure that if I had a five-point harness seat belt I would at least have been able to be more competitive.

As much as I’d like to, we can’t be driving dirt only as so much of our time is on life’s treadmill, which means time spent on tar. Well, I say tar but once you get off national roads there’s not much of that left, including in our suburbs.

With its 35-inch all-terrain tyres, it handles these with little effort and when you’re rolling on the highways at the national speed limit, with the auto box in tenth gear, watching the scenery and regular double cabs go by, life couldn’t be much better because they may be fast but you can go anywhere.

It’s a pity I can’t afford a Ford Ranger Raptor like my Aussie colleague because, by now, I would have made the call to Ford and arranged an EFT, it’s that good. Not only for exploring tough territory but as an everyday car too.

IOL Motoring