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Even before sales commence in June, everybody knows by now that the next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor has a new look and a V6 petrol engine compared to its highly-successful predecessor.
But how much different is it really? And now that we know pricing, is the T6.2 Raptor from $85,490 before on-road costs really worth the extra $6600 over the previous version?
So, let’s kick off with that need for more muscle.
Gone is the previous Raptor’s controversial 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘BiTurbo’ twin-turbo diesel (for the Australian market at least), for a 292kW/583Nm 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine.
It’s safe to say Ford reacted to requests for more oomph with conviction, since the 2022 model delivers nearly twice as much power and some 80Nm more of stump-pulling torque.
Impressively, the new twin-turbo V6 features “anti-lag” technology that keeps the turbos spooling in the engine sweet spot to avoid lag. And the 10-speed torque-converter auto it's connected to has been overhauled for smoother progress.
Now, the big question is how much petrol will this 2.6-tonne-plus truck slurp? Nobody's saying just yet, but given its appetite for premium (98 RON unleaded that's required to make those outputs), Ford still has some very important homework to do.
And then there’s the Ranger’s newly-widened front and rear wheel tracks and lengthened wheelbase (all by 50mm apiece), as part of the wholesale overhaul of this third-generation T6 platform.
This change directly led to Ford’s designers to style a bigger, blockier and far-more aggressive front-end look, similar to that of the coming F-150 from the next truck size above – something that eluded the previous Raptor especially.
In turn, the wider front end ushered in completely new front suspension components, along with an overhauled cooling system with higher-capacity front-end cooling pack for the engine and climate control, aided by a bigger set of radiators. These and other mechanical packaging updates provide a stronger, more capable and hopefully more durable driving experience on and off road.
Just as importantly, drilling down into the smaller details reveals further important changes that set the new Raptor apart from both its predecessor as well as rival mid-sized pick-ups.
For instance, it is some 100mm wider than the new (P703) Ranger and 150mm wider than the old (P375) Ranger – meaning that, proportionally from some angles at least, the two models now actually appear more similar to each other than their previous counterparts did.
That’s partially because the old Ranger sat on a mono-frame chassis, while the new Ranger adopts an evolution of the P375N (for North American) Ranger’s three-piece chassis frame released in the USA in 2019.
Developed in Australia for the original Everest (2015) and previous Raptor (2018), the three-piece chassis' modularity allows for model-specific changes – like the new Raptor’s V6 petrol engine and coil-sprung rear suspension – as well as a much higher degree of fine tuning between different vehicles styles that use that architecture. The related Ford Bronco is another example of this.
While the latest Ranger and Raptor may seem more closely related compared to before, the only body panels shared are the doors, roof and tailgate panels. Even the guards and bonnet aren’t interchangeable, due to the Raptor’s bulkier flares.
Additionally, the rear roof pillars, load box, spare wheel well and suspension – including around the jounce bumper, shock tower and rear shock bracket – have all been beefed-up. And the Raptor's front bash plate is nearly double the size of a regular Ranger’s.
The hydroformed front-end structure and all the other changes that has come with this has led to increased width that in turn gives the Raptor noticeably greater suspension and wheel travel; the aim is for it to soak up large bumps and humps better as a result.
Similarly, the Ranger/Raptor’s rear dampers have moved further outboard and outward for better tuning range and a comfier ride, while allowing for greater capacity in the load bed.
The Raptor’s shock absorbers are now Fox 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass electronic dampers, that have the ability to take information from the vehicle, which then allows it to then predict the right suspension behaviour, whether it’s on big-amplitude off-road events or on a smooth road and going over small corrugations. It can then control the suspension according to the terrain it is going over.
Plus, the Fox shocks are fitted with Bottom-Out Control that provide maximum damping force for the last 25 per cent of compression.
On the braking front, Thin Bridge twin piston calipers, front and rear vented discs with completely redesigned anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control systems aid control and handling on and off road. Much of these were developed at the Loveday off-road course near Renmark by Ford Performance, in South Australia, as well as at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground.
It was also testing within these conditions that Ford decided to specify BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tyres for the 33-inch wheels, along with optional Beadlock Capable Wheels.
Considering how much flack the old Raptor received for its slow acceleration response and "indecisive" 10-speed auto transmission tuning, it's little wonder that much work has been put into improving driveability.
Ford says it concentrated on improving what it calls the “visceral connected experience”, in that the steering is connected to the throttle, and the throttle is connected to the brakes.
“The whole way the vehicle behaves when it accelerates, when it goes over bumps, is designed to make it feel more grounded and confident and something that encourages driving,” according to Ford chief engineer Ian Foston.
Along with the chassis frame itself, many of the other T6.2 components have also become modular in the shift from old to new Ranger/Raptor, since each has to serve a specific type of customer for each of the models. Ranger is very different to the Raptor which is very different to the Everest (and this includes the unique Bronco tuning as well).
Among the modifications are Raptor's new shock tower mounts, upper and lower control arms and a Watt’s link coil-spring rear suspension set-up specific to this vehicle. It is not interchangeable with the similarly-specified Everest, for example.
Raptor uses a variation of the Ranger Wildtrak’s permanent four-wheel drive system, featuring an electronic on-demand two-speed transfer case, as well as front and rear locking differentials.
There’s also a new ‘Trail Control’ cruise control feature that lets the driver set a low-speed cruise control that operates from slow walking pace up to about 30km/h, to allow for better concentration on other matters, including braking and steering.
Speaking of which, the electric rack and pinion steering steering’s specific tune is also another difference between Ranger to Raptor, and again it’s been carried out to better suit the rough terrain it is likely to encounter.
To help get you there and back, the Raptor gains an expanded number of driving modes: three on-road (Normal, Sport and Slippery) and four off-road (Rock Crawl, Sand, Mud/Ruts and Baja).
Out away from public roads is where the new Baja modes were created by Ford Performance.
In a nutshell, it allows for optimised high-speed off-road performance, like a rally machine designed for rough terrain. The engine, transmission and various electronic traction, stability and braking controls are altered to facilitate speed, handling and braking in off-road environments.
It also includes an active exhaust valve that amplifies the V6 twin-turbo engine note according to which mode is selected. There are four settings: Quiet, Normal, Sports and Baja – with the latter “intended for off-road use only”. Don’t use it in the city.
And then there are the minor details that help improve the customer experience, like the substantially quieter interior, with its far-more modern and higher-quality tactile surfaces; improved Sync4 connectivity and multimedia systems; the far-more effective climate control we mentioned earlier; broader storage solutions; and even more ergonomic door handles that make getting in and out easier and safer.
The cringingly-named ‘jet-fighter’ front seats aren’t just much more comfortable and better looking; they actually help locate their occupants better in extreme off-roading or g-force inducing conditions, that in turn promotes better control of the vehicle when it matters most.
Meanwhile there are water jet sprays to clean the front camera for improved vision; a 12.0-inch portrait touchscreen that provides a vast array of off-road as well as on-road information and multiple-camera views around the vehicle, including a 360-degree top-down view and rear trailer hitch view.
Then there are the perforated side steps so mud can wash through better rather than stick around and muddy peoples’ trouser legs or boots; Precision Grey rear bumper with dual exhaust cut-outs for the full twin exhaust system; and integrated step pad to help shorter-statured people fetch items in the tub more easily.
Finally, for a vehicle with so much more gear (and a big heavy V6 under the bonnet), the new Raptor's weight gain is modest: between 30kg and 80kg, depending on specification.
The result is a sports truck with an unparalleled bandwidth of capability.
“All of these changes combined means Ford can dial up the steering, handling, ride and braking performance, to give the Raptor a unique, so-called 'connected' feel that is in line with Ford Performance expectations,” Mr Foston added.
And all for just $6600 more than the old Ranger Raptor. And there’s still so much more we don’t know, including fuel consumption, so stay tuned.