We’re going to be a little frank here. Dual cab 4X4s suck. At least they used to 15 years ago. Take a trip back down memory lane and think about how average they used to be. They were all powered by anaemic diesel donks. If you were lucky you’d score a turbo that’d take power from 40 to 50 horsepower. The back seats weren’t fit for human occupation. The ride was shocking, thanks in no small part to the tiny control arm length and stiff-as-a-brick torsion bar springs. Even the interior was more akin to something you’d expect to see flogged out running around a farm with the last rego sticker showing from the 80s.
They were absolute garbage. Especially when compared to the big wagons of the day. You’d have had to be an absolute maniac to eye off an old MK Triton and decide it was the perfect 4X4 for taking on the month long journey to the Kimberley. Let alone for serving daily driving duties out to Sunday lunch. But this isn’t a yarn about the Rodeo’s and Bravo’s of old. This is about the Ranger Raptor. So how’d we get from there to here?
We meet at last
We recently had the pleasure of being invited to the first official drive day of the brand spanking new Raptor. Ford did the usual hullabaloo. Journo’s flying in from all over the country. Mum and dad bloggers investigating where you’d put the pram. Motoring journo’s feverishly counting the cup holders.
It wasn’t surprising either. On paper, and behind the wheel, the Ranger Raptor is something phenomenal. It’s a real Jekyll and Hyde situation. Snug yourself down into those deep leather F22 inspired bucket seats. Twist all the dials to angry mode. Plant your foot with an off-road race course in front of you and you might as well be driving a rally car. The 292kW (or 400hp) V6 twin-turbo petrol barks and roars like nothing you’ve ever heard from an Aussie delivered 4X4 before.
It pins you in the back of your seat as the Fox suspension effortlessly soaks up bumps that’d turn an old Courier into a pretzel. They’ve got trick electronically controlled valving too, all powered by a computer. If it thinks you’re jumping it’ll stiffen things up for a smooth landing. It’ll stop the rear from squatting under hard acceleration. And it’ll ensure you float across the top of whoops like the off-road racer you clearly are.
But that’s not what impressed us. Ford are one of the most powerful vehicle manufacturers of all time. They’ve built entire racing divisions just to prove a point to Ferrari. It’d be weird if they couldn’t build a phenomenal off-road racer. What is weird. And what’s really worth talking about. Is how nice the Ranger Raptor is for the 99% of ownership you’re not soaring through the air.
Forget the paddle shifters for a second, slot the electronic shifter into D, twist the dial back from Baja mode and the Raptor’s exhaust quietens down. Fuel consumption drops to around 14L/100km. It becomes placid. The interior is a comfortable place to be. The leather hard wearing. The sound deadening isolating you from the world outside. The tech is easy to use and makes every day driving a pleasant experience.
The huge centre screen mirrors your phone, giving you easy access to all your music, mapping, and contacts should you need to ring your better half on the drive home from work. The bluetooth is loud and clear. Yes, there’s plenty of cup holders. And there’s ample space inside for the whole family to spread out on that 5hr road trip to see Nan. Even the clever Matrix headlights can track oncoming traffic, and adjust the light pattern so you don’t blast them with your high beams.
Ford’s included all the mod cons to keep the whole family happy. And more importantly, safe. There’s curtain airbags in the rear for the kids if you get in a serious bingle. There’s A/C vents in the rear to keep the tin lids cool in summer and warm in winter. And even trick wireless connectivity and charging for your phone, and a fan to keep it cool. Just plonk it down and away you go.
But why is that special?
To date. Every other dual cab on the market is a compromise between job site rugged construction, and family space. The whole market is slowly trending up. But the Ranger Raptor is a giant leap forward. There’s not a single manufacturer building anything even close to this capable, comfortable, and dare we say it. Fun. Ford already has a huge waiting list for the new Raptor. They’ve proven that Aussie’s look at dual cab Utes as not only the 4X4 of the future, but as the family car of the future. You’ve only gotta look back 10 years ago when the PX Ranger was first introduced to see how far we’ve come.
The Ranger Raptor proves that the 4X4 of the future is vastly different to the 4X4s of the past. They’ll come with twin lockers, beadlocked wheels, mud tyres. They can fly through the air, and then run Nan up to the Sunday markets without breaking a sweat. Until the other manufacturers get serious, the Ranger Raptor will be out in front for a long time.