Ready to Glide
There are many good reasons why the idea of a pick-up truck is appealing.
For myself in particular, the idea of a high-riding vehicle is essential given the constant threat of a flood where I live when the rain doesn’t stop for 2 or 3 hours. Then toss in the versatility of a truck platform to carry when you need it to, and function just as well as an everyday vehicle. That’s why trucks have proven very popular here with the Hilux, D-Max, Strada (now Triton), Navara (like mine) and the Ranger.
But if there’s one truck variant that is the envy of many pick-up drivers, it’s the Raptor. This truck takes a lot of what people love about the Ranger but kicks it up a notch or two in many ways. Now there’s a second generation based on the much improved “T6.2”, and so let’s see if it builds on the success of the original.
The Raptor being the sportiest available version of the Ranger means it has to look the part. It has to look cool and muscular, and the new Raptor clearly achieves that. They did have the Ranger to work with; a truck that sets the bar high for those looking for a beefy vehicle.
They changed out the bumper for something more "off-roady," along with the matte black side steps that are positioned much higher than most other side steps on a lot of other trucks. The wheels are definitely different and come with much-grabbier all-terrain tires for most situations. We’ve had quite a bit of experience with these tires already, and on the highway, these are quite quiet while still offering good grip on the road and traction off-road. If you look underneath, you’ll see some underbody protection for the Raptor; that’s important given what the Raptor is supposed to do.
The rear bumper is a different one; it has also lost the two box steps behind the rear tires that allow you to easily access the bed which is identical to the other variants of the double-cab Ranger. The new rear bumper does give you two loops for pulling things. And if you do, it can pull an unbraked trailer up to 750kg, with braked trailers it can take on about 2500 kg max. That’s lower than the standard Ranger, but honestly not too many people here pull trailer campers or big boats; most usually just pull jetskis or a trailer for dirt bikes.
The reason for the lower payload and towing capacity in the Raptor versus something like the Ranger Wildtrak isn’t the engine. This is also powered by a 2.0L bi-turbo diesel engine that makes 210 PS and 500 Nm of torque. The transmission is still the same 10-speed automatic with 4WD, albeit with some special modes for the Raptor. I do wish they had a manual version for people like us who enjoy the classics, but not enough people would likely purchase that model.
The real reason for the lower payload is the choice of suspension setup. This Raptor uses a longer travel suspension system with Fox Racing shocks. Fox Racing is known for off-road suspension bits be it bicycles, motorcycles, or big trucks. They compete in all kinds of events, and they use that experience to develop shocks that move very freely compared to a normal leaf-spring truck suspension setup. That allows the truck to appear like it’s gliding while the suspension does a lot of the work.
That’s also why it’s called Raptor: a bird of prey towering and flying over everything. The benefit is high-speed stability and control off-road, while on-road you experience exceptional comfort. The drawback, however, is lower payload; the vehicle’s rear just squats quite a bit more versus the standard models.
The interior too has changed, but not by much. There are Raptor details and design elements, but generally, it’s the same as the Wildtrak including the E-Shifter. What does feel different (at least it seems like it) are the seats (they hug you a bit more) and the steering wheel with the center tab and really cool paddle shifters; a Raptor exclusive.
Here you get all the same features as the Wildtrak. The larger portrait touchscreen, the digital instrument cluster (albeit with sportier graphics), the wireless charger, Apple Carplay Android Auto, and the like. 360 camera is standard, as is the suite of advanced driving assistance modes like adaptive cruise. A lot of that stuff you can browse to your contentment on the brochure, but needless to say Ford always fills their spec sheet to the brim, and that’s especially true of a top variant like a Raptor.
I do feel they go overboard with the electronics of the vehicle; there just seems to be too much technology with the center touchscreen which, by the way, is the only means of activating important vehicle functions like the diff lock. If that screen goes down, a lot of things will go down. That’s just my concern, but by all accounts so far it has proven reliable, so that’s a good sign.
What really matters more is the drive. Power up that engine and you’ll hear a nicer growl coming from the exhaust. The steering is light in the city, which is good, and visibility is great. What you do have to be very aware of is that you’re driving a widened version of the already large and long Ranger.
This Raptor is about 4.3” wider than the non-Raptor variants, and that’s primarily because of the wider fenders to accommodate the wider tires and wheels that have been pushed out a little bit from the standard fenders. The same goes for the side steps. Sometimes if you’re not aware of it, you might end up clipping a curb on a 90-degree corner. It’s not really a problem; the Raptor does have abundant clearance for such occasions.
Where the Raptor shines is how uneventful it feels on any kind of surface. If, say, you get a chance at a clear EDSA, try how the Raptor feels over all those patches and potholes. It just feels right. Try a rough dirt surface at higher speeds and you’ll enjoy how it just seems so stable. The enhancement that makes it excellent for high-speed bashing on sand dunes and the desert also makes it comfortable on the road. This does not feel like a bouncy pickup truck.
The off-road performance is something we’ve already experienced with the previous generation Raptor in the Aussie outback, on the sand dunes in Vietnam, and on the many courses we’ve driven the vehicle on, so there’s really no need to prove it. We did try the Baja mode on the Sacobia River in Pampanga for this shoot, but that’s just chicken feed for the Raptor. It can handle slower off-road trails, but it’s the faster routes that this was meant for. We only wish we had something like a flat desert where we can drive endlessly on dirt as far as the eye can see.
Where the Raptor can be improved on is, well, the engine. The 2.0L seems a bit underwhelming for a vehicle like this. I mean it’s fine for most purposes, but it just seems a bit too small and doesn’t have the grunt you want for the Raptor. The fuel economy wasn’t particularly stellar either; we were averaging just under 8 km/l with the turbodiesel Raptor in the city, and mind you that was before the holiday rush. Even on the highway 13 km/l is what we were getting.
The Raptor is good. On that, there is no doubt. There are many reasons why the Raptor accounts for about 40% of Ranger sales, but I think Ford could have brought a better engine for it. That’s just my personal wish because I did get to drive the turbo V6 Raptor a few months ago, and that would definitely be an awesome option if Ford does decide to give the Raptor customer what they truly want. And given that Toyota is now offering a more powerful Hilux GR, they really should consider it.