RANGER RAPTOR UNLEASHED
The North American Ford Ranger was unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show in January to welcoming fans of compact pick-up trucks. The Toyota Tacoma ruled the roost (and many say it still does) for years without serious competition, until GM re-entered the market with the Colorado/Canyon combo.
Off-road lovers had to be satisfied with the competent Tacoma TRD Pro, and were then given the option of the ZR2 edition of the Colorado with both a gas and diesel engine option! Life was good, except for Ford fanatics. The Ford Ranger was sold overseas to compete with the Toyota Hilux (the global version of the Tacoma), but here at home Ford wouldn’t ante up and come to the table.
With the resurrection of the Ranger badge in 2019, Ford fans will get the opportunity to buy a Ford compact pickup again, but not an off-road worthy competitor to the Taco TRD Pro or Colorado ZR2.
They say patience is a virtue, and that hope springs eternal. Compact pick-up fans will need both. The Ranger Raptor is an off-road masterpiece. If Canadian wheelers could request a performance off-road daily driver it would spec out like the Ranger Raptor. 46.6 mm (1.83 inch) Fox racing shocks with position sensitive dampening suck up bumpy terrain while legendary BFGoodrich K02 All Terrain T/A’s in a 285/70R17 tenaciously grab hold of the earth, driving you forward over any landscape.
“We are so excited and proud to unleash this vehicle to the public, driving it really makes you feel like a hero,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance. “The Ford Performance team is excited to extend the Raptor name from our flagship off-road performance F-150 to Ranger. Just like the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor builds upon the core capability of the range of vehicles it comes from and carries the unmistakable Ford Performance DNA appearance.”
Ground clearance is 283 mm (11.1 in - the F-150 Raptor is 11.5 in), Ranger Raptor approach/breakover/departure
angles are 32.5°, 24° and 24°, and if that’s not enough there are steel skid plates underneath to protect the important bits. Off-road necessories include front and rear recovery hooks and LED fogs.
A 2.0L Bi-turbo diesel engine generates 210 hp and 368 lb ft of torque. At low revs, both the low- and high-pressure turbos spool up in series for max torque, then the high is bypassed and the low generates increased horsepower.
Power gets to the wheels via a close ratio ten-speed automatic transmission with available paddle-shift. There are a number of pre-programmed modes available including normal and sport mode for on-road use, and then four offroad settings. For greasy conditions you get Grass/Gravel/Snow mode to reduce slippage, Mud/Sand maximizes torque and traction, Rock mode for control over uneven terrain and Baja mode for high speed dune running, which allows for more slide from the wheels under the throttle and brake, and holds the gears longer for high-speed performance.
Like most new pick-ups the Ranger Raptor gets keyless entry, remote start, Ford’s SYNC 3 voice command system, stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control, load adaptive control, electric power-assisted steering, roll mitigation and lane keep assist. For outdoor enthusiasts the sat-nav system lets you drop “breadcrumbs” so you can find your way home.
Which is (or will be) the best off-road compact pick-up? In my mind, the point is moot, as Ford has not revealed plans to launch the Ranger Raptor in Canada. You can go the tried and true Tacoma TRD Pro, but the Colorado ZR2 specs out, and tests out as the better choice. If you’re jonesing for an off-road compact - can you wait two years to see what comes?
The Ranger Raptor has better clearance
than the ZR2, which has 22.6 cm (8.9 in) clearance, 30° approach, 23.5° breakover and departure, and comparing diesels, the Ranger has more hp (210 vs 181 in the ZR2), with both coming in at a tie with 369 lb ft of torque.
In defence of the ZR2, the diesel has a larger displacement (2.8 vs the Rangers 2.0L) and you can get both front and rear locking diffs right from the factory with your ZR2. And you can get the ZR2 today.
I suspect that if and when the Ranger Raptor lands in Canada, it will have even more competition including a new Taco TRD Pro, and who knows what else?