After watching other countries have all the fun, the all-new 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor is finally coming to North America later this summer. For anyone who’s been living on Mars for the past few decades, Raptor is the designation Ford gives to its most powerful and off-road capable trucks and SUVs. The Ranger Raptor will join a lineup that already includes the F-150 Raptor, F-150 Raptor R, and the Bronco Raptor. The Ranger Raptor promises to be fully prepared to take on the most demanding terrain its extreme adventure-seeking Ford buyers can find.
“Ranger Raptor is the high-performance off-road truck so many customers have been begging for. It’s right-sized for tight trails and daily life, can carry lots of gear, and is a blast to drive,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. “Ranger Raptor is fast, comfortable, and packed with top-shelf, purposeful technology that’s designed to perform. This is the baddest Ranger we’ve ever made.”
What truly makes any Raptor more than just an engine upgrade is its high-performance suspension systems. Ranger Raptor starts with a purpose-built suspension that includes lightweight aluminum upper and lower control arms and a long-travel rear suspension with a Watts linkage and trailing arms for control and confidence in off-road conditions. It then employs next-generation FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks that are coil-overs at the front and piggyback reservoirs at the rear intended to reduce heat build-up and lead to uninterrupted performance all day long.
As in other Raptors, the FOX Live Valve Internal Bypass system also changes damping performance based on Ranger Raptor’s Drive Modes. The modes include Normal, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery, Off-Road, Rock Crawl, and Baja, the last of which triggers a trick anti-turbo-lag system we explore in more detail below.
Each selectable drive mode appropriately adjusts the tuning of the engine, transmission, ABS calibration, traction control, steering, throttle response and even the instrument cluster and touch screen look and information. The active valve exhaust system can also be tuned to several modes including Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja settings, but we’ve found the exhaust note a bit lacking in other Raptor applications with the same engine and exhaust system. The aftermarket might be a good place to really get a beefy exhaust note on your Ranger Raptor. Taking a page from the Bronco, the Ranger Raptor also comes with Trail Control which allows the vehicle to execute extremely tight turn on loose terrain by braking the inside rear wheel.
Backing this suspension is a fully boxed frame with reinforced front frame rails, front shock towers, rear shock brackets, suspension mounting points, and other key areas intended to handle more punishing off-road conditions.
To propel the Ranger Raptor, Ford Performance has turned again to its tuned twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 which here produces 430 lb.-ft. of torque and a best-in-midsize-pickup-class maximum available 405 horsepower, making this the most powerful Ranger ever built.
Beginning with a compacted graphite-iron cylinder block, the engine utilizes a race-bred anti turbo-lag system to enable boost on demand in Baja mode. It keeps the turbochargers spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle to help eliminate any lag when, say, exiting corners. Bolted to that EcoBoost engine is a 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission mated to an four-wheel drive system with a new electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case combined with front and rear locking differentials.
The thing about Raptors is you immediately know one when you see one. It’s virtually impossible to miss the bold F-O-R-D lettering on the grille that sits above an all-steel bumper with integrated, frame-mounted front and rear tow hooks, LED projector headlights and LED taillights. Like its F-150 and Bronco cousins, the Ranger Raptor will feature flared fenders with functional fender vents that house aggressive 33-inch BFGoodrich® all-terrain KO3 tires on 17-inch wheels that can be mounted to optional beadlock capable wheels with available bead locks for running extra low tire pressures in sand and rocky conditions. Such conditions can make a mess of any vehicle’s undercarriage, so the Ranger Raptor also sports serious underbody protection: the thick front bash plate is made of high-strength steel and is complemented by dedicated engine, transfer case and fuel tank shields.
Inside, the Raptor’s cab features a sport steering wheel including cast magnesium alloy paddle shifters and a signature Raptor centering mark in a Code Orange color. Six overhead upfitter switches mounted in the overhead console simplify adding and powering off-road hardware. Unique Ford Performance front seats are supportive, with extra bolstering to hold drivers in place during high-speed cornering. The rest of the cab includes additional trimmings in Code Orange, as well.
On the tech front, Ranger Raptor includes features like a 360-Degree Camera and Front View Camera to assist in off-roading, Zone Lighting to light up the night in remote locations, and class-exclusive Pro Trailer Backup Assist to help back up boats and campers. Raptor comes with a high-resolution 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and 12-inch center touchscreen running SYNC 4A, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless smartphone connectivity (take that, GM!). Finally, there’s a Bang & Olufsen sound system to pump out your favorite soundtracks.
Raptor vehicles aren’t just all show and no go. A pre-production 2023 Ranger Raptor proved its mettle by winning the stock midclass category of the Baja 1000, completing the course in 26 hours and 21 minutes. And then it drove home, almost 200 miles from the finish line to California. Having been in a few pre-production vehicles ourselves, the fact that it held together and just finished would have been impressive. Winning and making it back home? Count us a bit overwhelmed.
So when can you put a Ranger Raptor in your driveway? The 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan with orders beginning later this month and availability late this summer. For more details and information, visit Ford.com/RangerReady, and if you do buy one, do us a favor and use it as Ford intended!