When you ask Ford Performance Chief Engineer Jamal Hameedi what his favourite part of the new Ford Ranger Raptor is, he smiles broadly and says “I have a crush on the rear suspension! “It’s the first multi-link coilover on a pickup truck that is a Watts link( age) and it is a game changer from a ride and handling standpoint. It’s the best-handling pickup truck I have ever driven, by far. And I’ve driven a LOT of pickup trucks. This thing is amazing.” The Raptor’s rear suspension is a development of the coilover set-up introduced on the Everest SUV, while Ford has also extensively modified the Ranger’s chassis for use under the Raptor.
New chassis and geometry
The frame design incorporates new geometry for the large suspension that provides increased track and wheel travel, and consists of various grades of high-strength low-alloy ( HSLA) steel. The stiffened side-rails are made from increased HSLA grade steel to absorb offroad high speed impacts and there is also extra underbody protection in the form of a new bash plate made from 2.3mm thick high-strength steel. The front accommodates strengthened protruding shock absorber towers, and two recovery hooks rated at 4.5 tonnes can be found at the front, with two 3.8 tonne capable hooks at the rear. Ford engineers at the launch confidently said the only time you will need them is to recover someone else. Lager ventilated disc brakes all round handle the stopping, while towing capacity has dropped from the standard Ranger’s 3,500kg down to 2,500kg with the Raptor’s focus on off-road speed and massive suspension travel. Speaking of that sort of thing, these are part of the Raptor’s DNA thanks to the shock absorbers it inherits from the F-150 Raptor.
Built specially for the Raptor by Fox Racing Shox, the dampers feature 46.6mm pistons front and rear, as well as “Position Sensitive Damping” to provide
higher damping forces at full jounce and rebound, which Ford says enables better off- road capabilities, and lower damping forces in the mid- travel zone for a class leading plush ride during on- road trips “Those shocks are incredibly expensive – they’re full- on racing shocks. Four of them literally cost as much as a fourcylinder engine,” says Hameedi. And with that great expense comes some fairly remarkable ride and handling characteristics, according to everyone we spoke to who has driven it. “The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push i t off- road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on- road,” says Damien Ross the chief program engineer for the Ranger Raptor.
New ‘Baja’ mode
But i t is not all just serious mechanical ability, because the Raptor also gets a Terrain Management System that features six modes which can be selected via a dedicated switch on the steering wheel. On road there is the expected Normal and Sport modes, while off- road modes include Grass/ Gravel/ Snow mode, Mud/ Sand mode, Rock mode and the new Baja mode that reduces traction control intervention and offers faster gear shifts at higher engine speeds, holds gears longer and downshifts more.
Engineer Jamal Hameedi with ‘his’ Ford Ranger Raptor.
Ladder chassis on display at Thailand launch.