2024 Ford Ranger Raptor: Shaking Up the Midsize Truck Landscape with Unprecedented Power and Performance
For years, the Ford Ranger remained in the shadows, often overlooked by enthusiasts. With minimal updates and a lack of performance variants, it failed to capture attention—despite a missed opportunity with the tantalizing SVT Ranger V-8 prototype in the mid-1990s. Even when the global T6 Ranger arrived in 2019 (midway through its international life cycle), it maintained the reliable and unassuming image of its predecessors, resembling a faithful farm companion. But now, the arrival of the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor demands that we take notice of Ford's midsize contender.
Development of the T6 platform, which the new global Ranger shares with the Bronco and various SUVs produced in Brazil, Africa, and Asia, was spearheaded by Ford Australia. Given the vast expanse of deserts on the continent, it served as a fitting location to engineer the off-road Raptor variant—a trophy-truck desert racer. (While the latest Ranger Raptor has already made its debut abroad, this marks its first appearance in the American market, and we'll focus on the U.S.-specific model here.)
The outskirts of Alice Springs, renowned as the capital of Australia's "Red Center," provided the backdrop for significant portions of the Ranger Raptor's initial development. However, the Ford Performance engineers from Dearborn, who possessed deep familiarity with the awe-inspiring Fox Live Valve shocks on the F-150 Raptor, overcame the challenges of COVID-related travel restrictions to venture into the Outback, skillfully maneuvering to avoid encounters with kangaroos along the way.
What Engine Powers The Ranger Raptor?
As anticipated, the Ranger Raptor is equipped with a modified version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine found in the Bronco Raptor. Due to design variations such as a longer exhaust and lower placement of the charge-air cooler (which increases the complexity of the plumbing and results in greater losses), the power and torque figures have slightly decreased compared to the Bronco Raptor. The Ranger Raptor delivers 405 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, as opposed to the Bronco Raptor's 418 hp and 440 lb-ft.
However, there's no need to worry. Pickup truck bodies are significantly lighter than enclosed SUV structures, allowing the Ranger Raptor to boast a curb weight that is approximately 400 pounds lighter than the last two Bronco Raptors we weighed. This gives the Ranger Raptor an exceptional weight-to-power ratio, potentially surpassing even that of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost F-150 Raptor. Additionally, similar to the Bronco Raptor, this engine is specifically tuned to deliver maximum power at high revs, with 90 percent of peak power available at redline.
Like its North American counterparts, the Ranger Raptor channels its impressive torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is connected to an electronically controlled transfer case responsible for distributing power to the front and rear locking differentials. Although closely related to the ones found in the Bronco Raptor, the clutches in the transfer case and front differential have been adjusted to suit the unique missions of the trucks. For instance, the Ranger Raptor designed for desert racing purposes should rarely encounter situations where it needs to pull itself over an obstacle with only one front tire providing traction.
As with all other Raptors, the suspension travel is greatly increased from the mainstream 2024 Ford Ranger's 5.2 inches of jounce and 3.9 inches of rebound in front and 5.0/3.8 rear to the Raptor's 5.2/4.8 front and 6.5/5.0 rear—or 1.4 inch more front and 2.7 inch more rear total travel. That's on the stock 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A K03s (subtract a half-inch if you upsize to 35s as Aussies modifiers have been known to do). These 17-inch tires can be fitted to bead-lock capable wheels for the serious sand-runners or rock crawlers.
Note that at 10.7 inches, ground clearance is up 1.4 inches relative to base Rangers, but still falls 3.8 inches shy of the Bronco Raptor, and approach/departure angles are also much better suited to desert racing than boulder parkour. For this reason, there's also no stabilizer-bar disconnect.
To achieve the suspension travel increase, new upper and lower aluminum front control arms add 3.5 inches to the front track and the upper shock mount is revised. The rear suspension gets the F-150 Raptor treatment, ditching the leaf springs for radius arms and coil-over shock units mounted outboard of the frame.
The Ranger Raptor is equipped with advanced 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks, which are meticulously programmed by Ford Performance to offer an exceptional driving experience. These shocks utilize position-sensitive damping, meaning the damping rates change dynamically during jounce (compression) or rebound events mid-stroke. To cater to various driving scenarios, the shocks are specifically tailored to seven different drive modes: Normal, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery, Off-Road, Rock Crawl, and Baja. Additionally, an R mode allows drivers to customize parameters according to their preferences.
The intelligent system continuously monitors the driving style and adjusts the damping accordingly, ensuring appropriate performance even if the driver unexpectedly transitions to high-speed desert driving without switching to Baja mode. Furthermore, the system detects when the wheels are off the ground and prepares the shocks for a safe landing, regardless of the selected mode. In an effort to minimize friction and heat build-up within the shocks, they also feature innovative Teflon-infused oil—a technology that was initially introduced on the F-150 Raptor in the middle of the 2021 model year.
Another noteworthy departure from its American Raptor siblings is the use of a Watts linkage for lateral location of the live rear axle. This design element is borrowed from the Everest/Endeavour T6 SUV counterparts. In contrast, the F-150 and Bronco Raptors rely on a Panhard rod, which exhibits slightly different behavior during cornering, particularly when turning left versus right, making the Watts linkage a more optimal choice for enhanced cornering performance.
Undercarriage Armor And Brawny Bodywork
For protection when coming down from a big jump or off a boulder, extensive cladding includes a steel bash plate, plus covers for the engine, transmission, transfer case, and fuel tank. The high-strength steel bash plate is coated to look like aluminum and coordinate with the less rugged silver section of the lower bumper. Speaking of, North America gets a steel front bumper, where many global markets get foam with a plastic covering for pedestrian protection.
We've had a good look at the global Ranger Raptor's bodywork for a little while now (the Euro/Aussie version was unveiled in February 2022) and we generally like the way stretching the bodywork to cover the wider track added 4.3 inches to the width. Sadly, this puts the structure necessary for the base Ranger's useful rear body-side steps too far inboard, so that feature is not available on Raptor. Every other vent, scoop, and design element is functional and necessary. Well, the Raptor graphics are less than vital, but then they're optional. Our photo vehicle features a new Raptor color called Shelter Green, which incorporates gold metal flakes and will eventually replace the Code Orange paint option on other Raptors.
The Raptor interior's signature accent color (also Code Orange) isn't going anywhere, and it features heavily in stitching, seat bolster accents, vent surrounds, and the center-mark on the steering wheel (which also features magnesium paddle shifters). Six overhead upfitter switches mounted in the overhead console are provided to power auxiliary lighting and other off-road gear. Naturally the rest of the interior starts out with nearly all Ranger bells and whistles, including the biggest available screens, which feature similar graphics and animations found in other Raptors when switching between drive modes.
When And How Much?
We're saving the best for last. The order books will open by the end of May for deliveries in the later summer, at an opening price of $56,900—that's $28,475 less than the current price of a Bronco Raptor, and this one can haul mulch and ATVs! (It's also right in line with GMC's new Canyon AT4X and slightly more than Chevy's mechanically identical Colorado ZR2.) And a pre-production 2023 Ranger Raptor has already demonstrated its desert-racing chops by winning the stock midclass category of the Baja 1000, clocking in at 26 hours and 21 minutes before heading north for the 200-mile drive back to California. We're paying attention now.