Ford Ranger Raptor Long term Review – 3 months in

So we’ve had the Raptor for 3 months now, and have done nearly 10,000 km. It has been driven in a day to day family environment, off-road, and also from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide …

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Dec 19 2019
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So we’ve had the Raptor for 3 months now, and have done nearly 10,000 km. It has been driven in a day to day family environment, off-road, and also from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide towing our Tvan.

To give you an understanding of how it has performed, we felt that we should share the opinion of the three people that have driven it:

Aiden our Marketing Manager, who has done the majority of km’s including the trip from Sydney to Perth;

Kalen our General Manager who has used the vehicle mainly as a commuter;

and his wife Bec, who has experienced the Raptor on weekends, and has compared it to her pride and joy.

Utility from a family point of view – Bec

Over the years, being married to a car guy has resulted in having different cars in the driveway, endless texted links to Carsales and time spent out working on or enjoying them. I do like cars, but to me they’re a conveyance (keep that to yourselves!), something to get me and the kids to and from school, work and all the other activities that parenthood and life brings.

My daily drive is an old Lexus wagon which I absolutely love. It’s tall which offers me visibility, it’s comfortable with enough room to cart around the kids and gear, it’s safe and as Kalen puts it, it’s a Toyota which means it’s going to last. It does everything I want it to do and I never thought I’d imagine trading it in anytime soon.

Who would have known that this would change over a UTE!!!! Yes that’s right a UTE…

The Raptor is so comfortable and when you are sitting in it you definitely don’t feel like you are in a ute. The technology is amazing, I can text while driving and not break the law, because the car interprets my voice into a message and sends it as well as reading back any responses through Apple Car Play.

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On top of that I feel like I am sitting much higher than my car – even more-so than the Club 4X4 Patrol, with much better visibility. I really like this and it was one of the reasons for choosing my own car in the first place. But more importantly when I drive it, I just feel so in control and safe. The road leading up and down to our home is a windy one and as I navigate it in the Raptor I feel like it really hugs the road and I always feel like I am in total control.

The kids also love “The Raptor”. The higher seating position in the back combined with their boosters mean they have a whole lot more to look at and remain entertained, plus the 240 V invertor in the back means it’s easy to charge their devices if it’s required. The only challenge at the moment is without a cover on the tray, anything perishable or delicate needs to come into the cabin – at times this can get challenging but this should be easily fixed with a cover.

We’re yet to take it off-road so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes there – the kids love getting out into the bush and we’ve had the Patrol to do that for the last few years.

I enjoy driving it so much that I often try to convince Kalen to swap cars for the day, but I am yet to get a YES response!

Daily Driver – Kalen

I’ll admit it – ever since I did the short review (find it here) on the Ranger Raptor over a year ago, every time I saw one on the road I’d go into a drooling trance- like mess. There was something about those pumped guards menacing me in the rear view like a transformer and when admiring from behind, the sneak peeks of anodised blue adorning the very special and incredibly capable Fox shocks that sends shockwaves of childlike glee through me… yes I know I’m pouring over it, and I don’t care!

Having happily piloted our MobileHQGU for the last 4 and-a-bit years I did have high expectations of the Ranger Raptor. There was really nothing I could throw at the GU that it couldn’t handle. An incredibly capable and rugged rig off-road, it did however lack in refinement a little and at times I found it really difficult to use the factory gear to have conversations over Bluetooth; first world problem yes, but with the amount of driving I do this was a basic requirement that wasn’t being met. The Raptor excels here, with an unbelievably comfortable seat which cocoons you with plenty of lateral support and adjustability through its electric controls. The mix of leather and alcantara is an on-road bonus that may become a liability once we hit some muddy tracks, but that’s for another article.

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Ford’s entertainment system is very well integrated and thankfully has a great range of volume control to allow for the many conversations I’ll have on the road, with the added safety bonus of Apple Car Play which we will do a separate review on at a later stage. A nice chunky tiller with plenty of controls rounds out (sorry bad dad joke) what is a very comfortable and quiet place to be despite the BF Goodrich A/T KO2 shod alloys from the factory.

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33 inch BF Goodrich KO2 A/t tyres with a custom compound

With a history way, way too long ago of circuit work and classifying my “Zen” time as being behind the wheel, I really classify myself as a driver. A lot of people have complained about the drivetrain selection, but my overwhelming view is that it just works. Would I like a little more power? – absolutely I would, but I would want more power regardless.

In my humblest of opinions, Ford has pulled together a package here and I reckon they’ve simply nailed it. The extra ratio’s (a total of 10 in fact!) mean it’s rare that your wanting for urge – with the system working well to optimise gearing for any occasion and managing what could be a large number of shifts with a seamlessness that is incredibly impressive. In fact, I believe it’s the same box (in architecture) that’s in the V8 Mustang and the big brother F150 Raptor – so it’s more than up to the task. Want more attack? pop it into Sport or Baja mode and you will feel every single shift with a bang as the remapping sharpens throttle, gearbox and steering response as well as locking diffs depending on the mode selected. I look forward to testing Baja mode in particular in a controlled environment soon.

Generally though, Normal mode is more than enough for what is required for the daily commuting I’ve been doing in the Raptor to date – added bonus – an average of just over 10l/100kms!, (and this includes all the towing we’ve done). Interestingly, when Aiden took his trip to Perth I jumped back into the GU for a month. Now remembering it had been tuned recently, I did find a gap in the torque low down when I got back in the Raptor. This is despite the Raptor having 2.5 times the gear count which was interesting, particularly as the total torque output is about the same; but one can probably put this down extra displacement and an optimised tune.

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Then there’s the suspension. It’s pretty soft in bump and rebound, coming out of my driveway in reverse and stopping to put it in Drive see’s a slight bounce (which makes me smile every time), alluding to the intent to drive this thing very fast, for a very long time, over very undulating surfaces. I had real reservations around how it would perform on road, especially with the tyre choice; but I am pleased to say it’s been completely confidence inspiring. Quiet and controlled when commuting but also through bends. I’ve never triggered any electronic assistance to date aside from traction control on a wet uphill start with no load in the rear. When the going gets tough, the progressive rate springs do their thing too. Soft to start with and firming up as more pressure is applied to the system, so whilst it will pitch and roll a little you can feel that through feedback in the wheel and the load shift in general – picking and maintaining a line is easier than you’d think. A well weighted tiller certainly helps that, with plenty of feel at any speed which adds to this confidence.

On picking lines, the Lane Keeping Aid system is something I’ve learned to accept and enjoy – it’s amazing how many times you will wander while driving; possibly exacerbated by the extra track (all 150mm of it in fact over the rest of the Ranger range). The system will allow you to select whether it alerts you to a wandering line through a vibration in the wheel, or to gently help correct the line, which is initially a little disconcerting. Both options are accompanied with a graphical indicator in the instrument binnacle to ensure you can view what’s happening at all times. As a father of two young kids and an insurance guy, I really appreciate safety features such as this and in combination with the collision alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking system, it provides great safety nets as a driver.

So you can probably tell, my feel on the Raptor to date is overwhelmingly positive. I do look forward to getting it dirty over the Christmas break though. Make sure you beep if you see me on NSW’s mid-north coast. Fires pending, I look forward to some tracks, otherwise beach driving it is. It’s been great on the road, but it’s off-road capable for a reason; I look forward to exploring more of those capabilities very soon. Stay tuned.

Now to find a way to switch off the stop-start function for good!

Touring – Aiden

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Checking out the Great Australian Bight!

Over the last 3 months, I’ve taken the Raptor to numerous events around the country, including Perth, using it largely as the tow vehicle for our Tvan and event setup. All in all, I’ve have driven over 5,800km, so I’ve had a fair chance to experience everything the Raptor has to offer. Overall, I have to say that the thing is ridiculously comfortable to drive, and has performed very well in my opinion, despite a few trivial things.

Everyone talks about how good the suspension setup is, and they are right. The ride is a lot softer than you’d expect out of a ute, and while you feel towing a trailer more than you would in a leaf sprung one, I’ve never driven a more comfortable ute.

Visibility is very good, and I’ve found the reversing camera very useful, particularly for positioning the tow ball when connecting the trailer. It is mounted right above the towball, at the base of the Ford badge, which makes it perfect for lining up and getting distance just right. It’s a much better experience than in the MobileHQGU where I have to line it up, reverse, get out and check distance and then repeat.

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The reversing camera is housed at the bottom of the Ford badge on the rear, making it very useful for hitching a trailer.

Auto stop-start has been a little bit of a bugbear for me. It doesn’t matter that it automatically senses when it needs to start, I just feel uncomfortable particularly at night with lights and aircon on when the thing stops for minutes at a time at an intersection.

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There is an ‘auto-stop/start OFF’ button in the cluster behind the High/Low range, but you have to activate it again every time you drive to turn the feature off

I tried turning it off in the master settings, but every time you turn the car off, it automatically turns the feature back on. Luckily the over-ride switch is easily pressed, but I would have preferred to be able to default the feature to off. First world problem though right?!

The cabin noise in the Raptor is so quiet it is something you have to experience to believe. The active noise cancellation makes it one of the quietest rides around, and I’ve had comments from passengers joking that the thing isn’t even on. If you are using handsfree, it doesn’t even sound like you are driving to the person on the other end, which makes for very comfortable driving.

On the note of driving, the seating and interior design has meant that I’ve been able to manage longer driving distances with far less fatigue than in our current vehicle (the GU Patrol).

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The technology in the Raptor is brilliant, although I’ve also found it challenging at times, but not because it is hard to use. You have the choice of the built-in Navigation system, or Apple Car play. Personally, I’ve actually really taken a liking to the built in Navigation, although the keypad is disabled once the vehicle is moving over about 5 km/h which forces you to pull over somewhere to put a new address in unless it is a recent one which you can select easily.

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Cruise control is easy to use, although it is not hard to confuse it with the speed limiter function if you are not paying attention. The Raptor (at least the one we have) doesn’t have any radar function linked to the cruise control, so subtly losing speed as you approach a vehicle in front is not an issue. And with the 10 speed gearbox, keeping to the selected speed was manageable towing a trailer without stressing the engine too hard on all but the steepest of hills.

The engine is responsive, and generally very smooth, although it did take some getting used to the noises it makes when you turn the thing off and it continues to click and whir away. At times with the window down, I’ve noticed it being noisier than expected at idle, particularly when cold. I’m not sure whether this has anything to do with the fact that the service interval is 15,000km and perhaps servicing it more regularly would help with this? Regardless, performance hasn’t been affected, and it isn’t something I’ve noticed more than on a few occasions.

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Driving in Ceduna at Sunset

The gearbox so far feels as good as it did on day one, and I’ve had no issues at all on the long trips I’ve done. My only concern was a vibration that crept into the vehicle at highway speeds while towing after I’d crossed the border into Perth. At the time, I shifted the vehicle into neutral and found I still got the vibration. I then tried slowing down, and even stopped to check tyres which were all OK. I did notice that the road surface here wasn’t the smoothest, so in the absence of anything else, I reckon it might just have been the speed I was going over a corrugated (sealed) road surface. I’ve not experienced this again.

Weight is something I’ve had to be extra aware of in the Raptor. With a kerb weight of 2340 KG and a 1540KG max rear axle load, there is only about a 350(ish) KG load capacity over the rear wheels. This means that when you take the towball download of say 140KG on the Tvan, we only have about 210KG that you can put into the tray.

I spoke to Ford about this, and the reason that the axle weight has been de-rated is because they are expecting that the Raptor will be driven off road at high speed, which means they needed to be confident that the vehicle would handle the increased forces with the rated payload.

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While travelling with the Tvan, all I kept in the back of the Raptor was a Swag…

With a trailer attached I haven’t really needed to put anything in the back of the Raptor, so for most people this won’t be an issue. And 350KG is still a reasonable amount of weight to be able to put in anyway, as long as you aren’t someone that needs everything plus the kitchen sink when you go away.

Most of the driving I’ve done in the Raptor has been towing about 1500KG, and I’ve found that the 2.0L has plenty of grunt to maintain the speed limit on any hill, although on steep hills like the ones you hit as you climb before coming into Adelaide, from standing still it takes a while to build up speed. It’s nothing that will frustrate you, but it was noticeable. To be fair though, in the old GU Patrol, I’d do well to achieve 40 km/h without the temperature gauge jumping up. In the Raptor, once it gets moving it will accelerate up to highway speeds, it is just not awe inspiring.

Over the entire trip to Perth towing 1.5T, I averaged 13.5L/100Km. I was sitting about 12.5L/100km for the trip to Adelaide, but when I hit headwind while driving across the bight, it pushed the figure higher. I still think this is a pretty good figure given that the vehicle and contents weighed in at over 4T.

The 80L standard fuel tank is fine for driving around town, and based on 13.5L/100km (and allowing for 5L left in the tank), your range is about 570km towing a 1.5T trailer, and probably about 780km without a trailer. This is really not quite enough for touring, so I’ll be considering installing a bigger fuel tank. The good news here is that the tank sits between both axles, so a 150L fuel tank shouldn’t add more then 50KG even when full to the rear axle (because Diesel weighs about 832g per L). With a 150L tank, you’d get about 1100km towing 1.5T.

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Overall, in summary I’ve so far found the Raptor not only very capable, but very comfortable too. And that is stock standard from the factory so far. Yes, in the real world it does have some greater weight limitations than other utes, but it also has far greater capability off-road. I’m excited about tweaking it for our specific needs in the near future, but so far it ticks every box. It is comfortable, fuel efficient, very capable, it looks awesome, and you do get quite a different setup for your extra coin.

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