Game changer

NZ4WD - - NEW MODEL -

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.

Fox Shocks

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.

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