RAPTOR IS BRED FOR THE DESERT, BUT KEEPS ITS COOL IN THE MOUNTAINS TOO
IF FORD could only tell you one thing about its Ranger Raptor, it would be that it has Baja mode. That’s its desert-busting, humpjumping setting that allows the big unit to launch off the crest of any convenient sand dune.
That’s what the Blue Oval chucked down our throats from the moment it first told us that it had a performancefocused ute coming – and with good reason. A lot of development – including
local – went into creating this beast, and plenty of that was focused on perfecting what happens when you engage that Baja mode – its moniker a reference to the great Mexican desert race of the same name. While the Fox dampers soak up the bumps, the traction control loosens, the throttle sharpens and it’s wildly entertaining to drive on any surface reminiscent of that gruelling desert dash.
So the first thing I did when editor Inwood wistfully threw me the keys to his old flame was take the Raptor to the snow. You know, where Ford’s marketing might suggest it doesn’t belong. I was a bit concerned, as tapping the throttle on the slightest of damp surfaces usually sees the red rig spin rubber like a Bamix coming out of thick soup.
In Victoria, snow chains are mandatory in alpine parks, so that was of some comfort. Then again, chains really shouldn’t be required for a fourwheel-drive on anything but the most hazardous of snow-blanketed roads.
Then there was the size of the cabin to contend with. It’s good for four passengers (I carried two plus me) but not also for their luggage. So all the heavy stuff went in the tray over the axle, which also aided traction (the Ranger, unlike VW’S Amarok, doesn’t run in constant all-wheel drive) and I used waterproof duffel bags and plastic containers for everything else. It was an unconventional arrangement, but workable given our long-termer doesn’t feature a cover over the tub.
As for driving up the mountain, I figured that, worst-case scenario, I’d drop the Raptor into 4x4 high range and select Weather mode. I was sure the mandatory hire chains were a massive waste of time. In the event, I didn’t touch either. It crawled up to the summit driven by the rear wheels only without slipping a bit, and I reversed it into a car park and left the handbrake off for the impending overnight dump of snow. It came, and there was a large lump of white to contend with, but in 4x4 high and with a dab of throttle, the Raptor was climbing up over the white stuff without breaking a sweat.
‘Weather’ mode isn’t a name that does justice to the Raptor’s snow smarts. Were Ford to build an Everest Raptor ... well, there’s a name that tells a story.