2021 FORD RANGER RAPTOR: Born to dominate

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2021 FORD RANGER RAPTOR: Born to dominate

Friday, December 18, 2020

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Applying the Raptor designation to their best-selling international mid-sized pickup wasn't just a marketing exercise. The Ford Ranger Raptor isn't just a bunch of stickers. It gets the full makeover from Ford Performance, the people who did the original Ford F-150 Raptor, to make it the fastest way to clear rough terrain in its segment.

Buyers know they're in for a treat when even the tyres on the Ranger Raptor say Baja Champion, a direct link to the gruelling 1,000-mile off-road race. Not that it's needed since the visual presence of the pickup is a dead giveaway to what the vehicle is about. It's wider, proudly showing off its bulging fenders and arch extension, and taller by 51mm. From a distance it can be mistaken for its larger brother the F-150 Raptor with the large FORD badge across its front grille and Raptor graphics adorn the rest of the body panels.

Getting in is a matter of jumping up on the side steps and grabbing a front door handle as keyless entry takes care of the rest. At night, the vehicle provides bright puddle lights and lit front door handles for guidance. The interior is as purposeful as the exterior due to similar makeover. Ford Performance blue stitching is abundant across the soft leather in the cabin. These are at all key touch points. The body hugging Raptor branded sport seats with their suede inserts make a statement of intent. They power adjust to help find the right driving position and are heated for extra comfort. From there, hands reach out to grab the chunky perforated leather wrapped steering wheel, with a red leather section to inform the driver on where the front wheels are pointed, like on rally cars. Behind are paddle shifters for the 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Ranger Raptor keeps the space and practicality of the Ranger, having storage solutions to handle work or play items. Front USB ports are lit, allowing them to found at night. A rear 150w socket plug and numerous 12v sockets are around the cabin. In the bed are the usual tie downs and another power socket. It retains the rear differential lock, the three operational modes, 2H, 4H and 4L, hill descent and a tow hitch.

The Ranger was always on the forefront of technology containing features that wouldn't look out of place in a modern family sedan. Headlights can be set to auto with a self-dimming function. The wipers are auto too, as they wipe a heated front windshield. Along with the dual climate control are heated front seats. There's cruise control, Lane Keep Assist and safety tech like Pre-Collision Warning, to name a few. The Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system is operated from an eight-inch touchscreen providing the sound quality and connectivity modern owners expect.

On road, there's little penalty as the Raptor upgrades made by Ford Performance make it magic on Jamaican roads. The extra ride height, bigger, better brakes, aggressive 33-inch tyres, reinforced chassis, and Fox Racing dampers aid in a comfortable worry-free ride. The 210bhp bi-turbo diesel engine is smooth at low speeds and meaty at higher rpms when the larger second turbocharger kicks in.

The Ranger Raptor's mantra is high speed and those that take advantage of this will not be disappointed. There's nothing in the class that can cover rough terrain with the speed and poise of the Raptor. At first, it takes a while to trust the pickup, this is because there's a large mental disconnect between what the driver is seeing and the vehicle's ability to handle what's being thrown at it. Drivers may see moon-sized craters, but the suspension glides over them the faster the speeds. Settle in and the Raptor shrugs off bumps, ruts, and surface changes with the speedometer deep towards the right. And it's not just straight line performance. BAJA mode in the Terrain Management System slacks off the electronic nannies and the four-wheel drive to give endowed drivers the control they seek when turns appear.

What is truly amazing about the Ranger Raptor is that it hasn't lost any of it civility. It's able to deal with the daily duties, work or family oriented. But for play, off-road, low speed, it's very capable. For high speed off-roading it's unmatched in its class.


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