By Mike Torpey on 2023-10-07 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford Ranger 3.0
IF the Ford Ranger name conjures up an image of an adventure pick-up for the great outdoors, then adding the word Raptor to the equation inspires something with a real sense of menace.
Like the definitive Raptor - a bird of prey swooping to plunge its talons into an unsuspecting victim - the big Ford truck has the hardware to cut through the toughest of terrain.
That's where the Raptor stands out from regular Ford Ranger models in that it is designed to make light of off-road conditions its standard stablemates would hesitate to tackle.
What's interesting though is that while the Raptor sits at the head of Ford's Ranger pick-up truck line-up it doesn't actually qualify as a commercial vehicle, and the benefits that status brings.
This is because the vehicle is designed for off-road performance rather than shifting heavy loads - with a flatbed capacity of 652kg it falls short of the one tonne CV minimum - making it more of a niche model.
So owners are going to patronise the Raptor for what it is, a high powered high performance brute of a truck, rather than a tax-saving pick-up.
The latest Raptor, now into its second generation, comes exclusively with a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo EcoBoost petrol engine developing 292ps and the ability to shift its considerable poundage from zero to 62mph in 7.9 seconds.
The trade-off of course comes in fuel economy terms - drive conservatively to match the official Ford average return of 20.5 miles per gallon and you won't be getting the best out of the truck.
Either way the Raptor looks every inch the predator its name suggests with its oversize F O R D lettering across the front grille and R A N G E R across the back, flared wheel arches, chunky 17-inch tyres and graffiti-style Raptor decals on the sides of the loadbed.
As for hardware, the Raptor has a unique chassis compared to the standard Ranger and a completely new suspension designed to deliver more control across rough terrain at high speed, plus an electronically controlled all-wheel drive set-up with locking differentials.
It all equates to a vehicle that's positively thunderous in the rough stuff, with drivers able to pick their preferred engine sound via a button on the steering wheel or by accessing one of the four drive modes - Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja.
While the latter setting is by far the most striking and intended for off-road use only, Sport still blasts out that guttural bellow so sought-after by enthusiasts.
That said, the lion's share of the Raptor's existence is going to be in everyday conditions and on motorways, where it handles and rides smoothly with positive steering and good insulation from road rumble and wind. Quiet mode will ensure minimal exhaust noise.
Move inside and there's plenty of space for adults (front and back as the Raptor is a double-cab model) and a high level of standard kit.
There's a heavy duty feel about the cabin, made a touch more palatable by some suede finish on the dashboard and soft-touch plastics elsewhere, while the electrically adjustable sports seats are firmly supportive and stand out with red side bolster stripes and the word Raptor emblazoned below the headrests.
Ahead of the driver is a 12.4-inch digital instrument display while the central area ahead of the gearshift is dominated by a 12-inch vertical touchscreen that's straightforward to use and includes various cameras angles as well as just for reversing.
You also get the likes of a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a wireless smartphone charger and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay device mirroring.
Ford Ranger 3.0 Raptor
Mechanical:288bhp, 2,956cc V6 EcoBoost twin turbo petrol engine driving four wheels via 10-speed auto transmission
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
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