FORD’S MEAN MA­CHINE

Dual-cab ute help­ing re­de­fine the seg­ment

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - MOTORING & LIFESTYLE - GRANT EDWARDS

There is noth­ing apolo­getic about the Ford Ranger Rap­tor. The hulk­ing ute lead­ing the hard­core dual-cab mar­ket is unashamedly big, bois­ter­ous and ca­pa­ble.

With ‘FORD’ stamped proudly on the ex­pan­sive grille, the Rap­tor bus­tles with road pres­ence. Flared wheel arches hous­ing knobby 33-inch di­am­e­ter BF Goodrich all-ter­rain tyres com­bined with heavy-duty side-steps en­sure the ute has the sub­tle­ness of a punch in the face.

With a re­tail price of $74,990, that’s $11,000 more than the Ranger Wildtrak with the same en­gine, it sounds hefty.

But this isn’t just a Ranger with a bodykit. Un­der the metal are wide-rang­ing up­grades to make this thing an off-road­ing ge­nius.

Among the changes is a unique chas­sis, as well as long travel sus­pen­sion with Fox Shox,

alu­minium up­per and lower con­trol arms, heavy duty skid-plates and un­der­body pro­tec­tion. Com­pared to a stan­dard Ranger, the front and rear tracks are wider, while its wa­ter wad­ing abil­ity grows to 850mm.

One of the big­gest talk­ing points has been the 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylin­der diesel en­gine part­nered to a 10-speed au­to­matic. We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the same en­gine in the Ever­est SUV — it’s a smooth and strong unit.

Sur­pris­ingly good at trim­ming through the 10 ra­tios, rarely do you feel the need to make use of the man­ual pad­dle shifters mounted to the steer­ing wheel.

Com­fort­able on the high­way and around town, the Rap­tor re­quires some care when park­ing (the rear sen­sors and cam­era are vi­tal tools), but you can’t deny its ride height and there is some lean in the bends when push­ing hard. Not that you’d use the Rap­tor for carv­ing up bi­tu­men.

This thing is for at­tack­ing the rough stuff, and hard. It’s like a trail bike on four wheels and space for the whole fam­ily. Among the me­chan­i­cal arse­nal is low and high-range four-wheel drive as well as a lock­ing rear-dif­fer­en­tial.

Slink into the cushy leather and suede trimmed seats em­bla­zoned with the Rap­tor sig­na­ture and it’s a cushy ride.

Im­me­di­ately feel­ing like an ath­letic of­fer­ing with the chunky steer­ing wheel (in­clud­ing prom­i­nent red straight ahead marker) and sports ped­als, the leather across the dash with blue dou­ble stitch­ing adds class but there are hard plas­tics across the doors and han­dles.

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