From Out of the Forest – Ford Ranger Raptor

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Many of us have dreams and aspirations, things we spend our lives working towards, and for many of us life just isn’t complete until we reach these points. Now these goals could be anything from a big house full of the finest items and a driveway packed with the latest and greatest supercars, and for some others, it could be as simple as a modest house with a spouse and a loving family. The wonderful thing about all of this is that for all of us, these dreams are different. They also change.

For a long time, I thought I had it all planned out – I thought I knew what I wanted and I thought I had a plan. I had it all sorted and knew that if I worked hard, made sacrifices, and kept my head down, I’d have my big house, my shiny car, and a plethora of other materialistic objects I thought would make me happy. Somewhere along the way, things changed. And as I grew older I learnt a lot about what I want versus what I need and I became happier with the simpler life. “Less is more” became my path, and this became my mindset with everything.

As much as my goals and plans have changed, there’s always been one thing that has been a constant in my life, and that has been my undying want for a pick-up truck. I can’t explain why, but there is something so tempting about the versatility of a truck that just appeals to me in ways no other vehicle can. I’ve had my fair share of 4x4s and SUVs, but in reality they just don’t cut it. All I want now is a well-built trusty pick-up, a 65l Yeti cooler and my better half with me so we can drive across Europe, loading up the cooler with food and drink as we explore.

A few years ago I reviewed the Ford Ranger Raptor with the diesel engine and as much as I loved it, it was very obvious that the generation of Ranger that it was based on was getting a bit long in the tooth and some of the features and finishes didn’t quite cut it for me. Fortunately, there’s a new model out with an entirely new platform that is shared with the Volkswagen Amarok. This new model brings a lot of needed upgrades in the cabin including more premium materials, an updated infotainment system including the huge portrait-mounted 12″ touchscreen and a new digital dash despite there being fewer buttons around, the overall feel of the interior is tactile and robust.

Outside, there are similar design features to that of the previous model including “Raptor” branding everywhere including on the sidesteps and rear tailgate but the big changes are with the front grill and headlights and also the taillights. The new C-clamp LED headlights follow the design language of other Ford trucks such as the F-150 and are designed to give the Ranger that all-important “built tough” look that Ford is pushing for with their pick-ups.

Chassis-wise, the Raptor benefits from adaptive Fox dampers that, when in full-fat “Baja Mode” can handle the toughest terrain at high speed. This is managed through the Raptor’s infotainment using a rotary dial in the centre console or through the touchscreen. There are also 17″ wheels wrapped in chunky all-terrain tyres.

As you may expect from a truck of this size and height on UK roads, it isn’t exactly “agile”, but it does have one big improvement over the previous model in the form of a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine under the bonnet that produces a satisfactory 292PS and 491Nm of torque that provided a wonderful aural experience when you really start to put your foot down. There is still a 2.0-litre diesel EcoBlue engine available, which is probably going to be the more popular choice here in the UK. But it’s off-road where the Raptor shines.

Loose gravel, deep muddy ruts, and water passes were all handled with ease thanks to the various terrain response settings available in the Raptor and the AT tyres provided plenty of grip when things started to get a bit slippery and unlike many other trucks I’ve tried and tested, the body felt solid we pushed on into the woods.

Although the Raptor’s capabilities far exceed my demands from a pick-up truck, it is probably the most desirable vehicle of its kind on the UK market today and even though something like a simple Hilux or D-Max would be far more suitable for my needs, the Raptor is still the one I would buy and use every day if I could.

A huge thank you to Ford UK for the loan of the Ranger Raptor – details can be found HERE

All photographs were taken and arranged by Sprite Photography