I haven’t been this excited to drive a car in quite some time, and it’s a pick-up truck!
Ford’s new “baby” Raptor has everyone wondering how it compares to the original big brother F-150 Raptor. Since there are no direct competitors from other carmakers, the only comparison comes from within Ford’s stable. Fortunately, I have had a lot of time in the 2nd generation V8 F-150 Raptor. Although I have yet to drive the current generation with a V6, I can confidently say, I would rather have the Ranger Raptor.
You may immediately say, “but the Ranger version can’t be a true performance machine, because it has a diesel engine and it doesn’t sound good”. To which I can happily tell you, I was genuinely surprised that there was a fair amount of beefiness from the engine and the exhaust note. Not too noisy, but just enough to let you know this is not your average oil burner. Least you forget the current F-150 Raptor uses a 6 cylinder that doesn’t sound all that great either.
A quick search on the etymology of Velociraptor and you will find that it means ‘swift seizer’ in Latin. There couldn’t possibly be a more accurate way to describe the Ranger Raptor. The first undulation at speed immediately captures your attention. The way the car is able to recover from a huge bump is unfathomable. I would go further and say the F-150 Raptor vs the Ranger Raptor is akin to the, “who was the better apex predator? the T-Rex or Raptor?” debate. Sure, on paper the F-150 Raptor is bigger and badder like the T-rex. Hell, Tyrannosaurus means king in Latin. But in reality the Raptor, and in this case the Ranger Raptor, steals the crown as the more agile and effective choice for the job.
Size and weight will always be a factor in determining how a car performs. This is the most compelling reason the Ranger Raptor edges out the F-150 Raptor. The Ranger Raptor bulks up on the standard ranger platform. To the point where every time I see a normal ranger I can’t help but imagine a before and after photo of Captain America post and pre super serum injection. It’s laughable each and every time. The Ranger Raptor is right on the threshold of being too big. It may even appear too big and clumsy, until you actually spend some time driving it. It still fits in parking spots you would be able to take other pickups into. The smaller stature versus its F-150 brother is not only beneficial for urban driving, but where the raptor is at home - off road.
Down and dirty.
Trail driving is immensely easier with the Ranger Raptor. You’re able to easier maneuver around obstacles and tighter turns. The biggest drawback to the F-150 raptor is its long wheelbase. It seemingly always scrapes its belly and even more disappointingly gets hung up on some easy angles. The Ranger Raptor has a better brake-over angle, thanks to its shorter wheelbase, and hardly gets caught up. In case you do, it has the same light weight, durable magnesium side steps the F-150 Raptor has.
High speed driving is where you feel the weight difference between the two. The Raptor feels incredibly agile, even on paved roads. There isn’t much body roll for a car of this size. The suspension gives you confidence to be aggressive on the road and at any given time has no problem swallowing enormous pot holes, speed bumps, or even the “accidental” dip of the tires onto unpaved dirt shoulders. Your passengers may soon start to wonder if you’re actually a good driver for not being able to keep your tires within the lines.
But none of them can argue against just how comfortable the car is. This is undoubtably more comfortable than a Land Cruiser 200. While this may be a controversial statement, I can assure you it is a factual one, as I have a 200 Series. Ranger Raptor owners will know the all too familiar scene of their passengers beginning to wince and brace themselves for the spine shattering bump they anticipate is about to violently assault their body. Yet, nothing happens.
The biggest shock they feel is the same as jumping onto a bed expecting to bounce up and down a few times, but quickly realize you’ve sunken into a memory foam mattress. This rings true for almost any speed and size of bump. I’m talking 80-100 km/h on a horrible dirt road with holes the size of what normal cars would call a ditch. The Raptor glides right over them with ease. No matter what your bravery decides to throw at it, the Raptor remains unfazed.
Initial power off the line is the only demerit I can give the Ranger Raptor. It feels like a full second from when you mash down on the throttle. Realistically it’s only about four tenths of a second, but it is indeed noticeable. Power everywhere else in the rev range is fantastic. The car never seems to be short of power when overtaking. The 10-speed gearbox plays a large part in being able to put the power down into actual speed. Ford’s outgoing 3.2 liter engine in the Ranger seemingly has more initial torque, but its just downright robbed by the sluggish gearbox.
The paddle shifters have a solid look and feel. They’re especially handy when trying to slow the car down before plummeting down the mountain side. I never saw the need to use the paddles for upshifting as the computer box knew what gear it needed to be in. Even when driving aggressively. Steering feel is perfectly weighted when driving at speed yet incredibly light when maneuvering through parking structures.
Built for big things.
Everyone is so enthralled with the ‘Baja’ mode. Yet people don’t realize the best mode the Ranger Raptor has, is the ability to lock the rear differential in rear wheel drive. Pair this with Baja mode, and you have endless hours of sideways fun on empty dirt roads. You certainly feel like Colin McRae in a rally car or even BJ Baldwin in a trophy truck. The red centerline on top of the steering wheel and supportive bolstered seats add to that fantasy. Without a doubt, the Ranger Raptor has earned a spot on my dream 5 car garage.
This kind of fun can’t be had with any other vehicle off the showroom floor. It truly is a unique experience and would not be out of place to see this in a garage next to expensive supercars worth 10 to 20 times the price. This car would also serve as a great daily driver for its supreme level of on road comfort. A pickup is highly practical thanks to its ability to haul large items. Best of all, pick-ups are now tax exempt in the Philippines meaning the Ranger Raptor is hands down one of the best valued drivers cars on the market.