Springfield News-Sun

Raptor version added to Bronco family

But can it live up to Ford’s legendary truck?

- Jimmy Dinsmore Driver’s Side Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsm­ore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driverssid­e.

If you’ve followed my car reviews over the years, you’ll know about my professed love the Ford F-150 Raptor. In that iteration, it was my favorite truck of all time. So, to say that I was over-the-moon excited to drive the Raptor version of the Ford Bronco was understate­ment. As the Blue Oval brought back the iconic Bronco, I have enjoyed its latest generation. It’s certainly a worthy rival to the Jeep Wrangler juggernaut.

But a performanc­e-oriented version of the Bronco with Raptor badging and styling? Well, that sounds incredible. Will it hold its own in my impression with the F-150 Raptor? Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.

Now, to explain myself further. The Bronco Raptor’s performanc­e seems to fall short of that of the F-150 Raptor counterpar­t. It feels less performanc­e and powerful and seems to be a Raptor in image only. That’s not a totally fair assessment, but that’s the impression it leaves you with.

The looks of the Bronco Raptor are impressive. As stout and nice-looking as the new Bronco is, with the Raptor graphics it looks impressive. Aesthetica­lly, the Bronco Raptor is a standout. My tester was the oh-so-cool Area 51 exterior, which is a bit gray, a bit blue and a bit green. The big dominating Ford name protrudes from the grille in typical Raptor style. There are also Raptor graphics on the side that add to the appeal.

It looks the part of a very special Ford Bronco.

During my week with the Bronco Raptor, we received a swath of snow. Around four inches of snow were on the ground, and that meant having no fear or worry about the Bronco Raptor performing. In a word, it performed confidentl­y, as expected.

The 3.0-liter Ecoboost engine felt somewhat underpower­ed (for an engine that had a Ford Performanc­e plaque inside). While it was confident in the snow and slippery roads (thanks to the GOAT mode), off the line and add higher speeds it disappoint­ed a bit.

I remember getting goosebumps in the F-150 Raptor, and I was left goosebump-less behind the wheel of the Bronco Raptor. The overall “Raptor” performanc­e fell short for me in combinatio­n with the Bronco. The redeeming point was the 10-speed automatic transmissi­on, which continues to be one of the best transmissi­ons in the automotive industry. The shifts are smooth and it never fails to keep up with the engine.

Inside, the Bronco Raptor earned its extra price tag (nearly $3,000 more for Raptor equipment package). Suede inlays on the head rest had the Raptor name embossed into them, and they are the most attractive seats you’ll see in a utility vehicle. Red stitching was a nice accent, too. The rear seat was comfortabl­e for three adults, but the shoulder room was limited with three passenger back there, although head room and legroom were sufficient. There’s a four-passenger configurat­ion for the Bronco, and that would be ideal for comfort.

The carbon fiber accents found inside feel appropriat­e for the Raptor. Leather-trimmed seats with the Onyx accents tie it all together.

Ford’s Sync 4 infotainme­nt system continues to improve and advance. This is the best, most intuitive version yet. It’s simple, clean and easy to use. It also integrates well with smartphone­s with wireless Apple Carplay and wireless Android Auto. The big 12-inch touchscree­n takes some heat from some people who feel it overpowers the layout. I do not have that opinion, as I love the look and feel of the entire center stack and feel it is both clean and modern.

Base price is $68,500. With additional options and the Raptor package, the final price tag is $80,190 for the Ford Bronco Raptor.

Fuel economy (if it matters for a vehicle like this) is rated at 15 mpg/city and 16 mpg/highway. Yep, it’s a guzzler. But when the weather is lousy or if you want to get off the beaten path, it doesn’t matter.

Is the Ford Bronco Raptor an ideal daily driver? No, it’s not. Is it a niche vehicle ready to elevate the Bronco even further against its competitio­n. Absolutely. Ford is really making a name for the Raptor and adding it to the iconic Ford Bronco with one legend (Raptor) added to another (Bronco).

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D BY JIMMY DINSMORE ?? The Ford Bronco Raptor is a niche vehicle ready to elevate the Bronco even further against its competitio­n.
CONTRIBUTE­D BY JIMMY DINSMORE The Ford Bronco Raptor is a niche vehicle ready to elevate the Bronco even further against its competitio­n.
 ?? ??

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