Clever Girl: Ranger Raptor Appears … In Thailand

Ford Ranger Raptor

Sticking to an incomprehensible corporate script of teasing the hell out of American truck buyers, Ford today launched the long-awaited Ranger Raptor … but chose to do so halfway around the world from Dearborn.

It’s certainly a handsome brute, at least to this author, who admittedly is a fan of the brash and outrageous (*dons Texas-sized belt buckle before heaving himself into his obnoxiously bright-red brodozer pickup*). If the specs on the machine shown in Thailand make an intact transition to American soil, Blue Oval fans will have a true alternative to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

We’ve seen camouflaged Ranger Raptors tooling around Detroit since approximately the Jurassic era, so to finally see one in production form marks the end of an incredibly drawn out peepshow. Its off-road résumé reads well, with approach and departure angles (32.5 and 24 degrees, respectively) within a hair’s breadth of the Chevy but enough for Ford to claim they are better than the bowtie measurements.

A Watt’s linkage rear suspension with coilover rear springs is said to ensure lateral stability of the solid rear axle in gnarly off-road situations while improving on-road ride and handling. Internal Bypass technology in the shocks is present, mirroring the beefiest Colorado. Newly developed Position Sensitive Damping shock absorbers should provide higher damping forces at full jounce and rebound, enabling better capability off-road and soft landings during gonzo jumps and desert whoop-de-doos.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Lower damping forces in the shock’s mid-travel zone should alternatively provide a comfy ride during on-road trips. These expensive units truly provide the best of both worlds and, having sampled the tech on a trophy truck course in the ZR2, I can personally attest that these types of shocks make for a pillow-like landing even after getting all four wheels off the ground. I’m glad Ford took the plunge and upped its game to meet the competition head on.

The truck also deploys a Terrain Management System, like those found on snazzy off-roaders like the Land Rover Discovery. A steering wheel-mounted five-button switch allows drivers to cycle through different driving modes. Normal and Sport modes are designed for on-road fun. When it’s time to get dirty, drivers will be permitted to select select either Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, or Baja modes. No word if the Rock setting will give you a People’s Elbow while asking if you’re smelling what he is cooking.

In Baja mode, Ford says safety nannies are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gears in the 10-speed ‘box will be held longer, and downshifts will be more aggressive. Ironman Stewart never had it this good in the desert.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Its design is appropriately aggro, in this author’s jaundiced eyes, considering over-the-top styling cues like the blocky F O R D billboard in the Ranger Raptor’s front grille. Its front fenders are said to be comprised of composite materials, meaning drivers can bash them over tough trails without inflicting the same amount of damage that would be suffered by steel or aluminum panels. Or, y’know, they’ll survive dings from errant shopping carts at the mall.

The Raptor Ranger is pictured with BFGoodrich A/T tires measuring 285/70/17. The engine mentioned during the Thailand reveal is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Don’t expect that mill here in America. During the regular Ranger’s rollout in Detroit, company execs made noises about that model’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four being appropriately beefed up for truck duty. That engine has direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger, chain-driven dual overhead cams, and will be paired with a 10-speed automatic.

I’d place a very large wager that the Ranger Raptor will eventually come to America, sooner rather than later, especially in light of the Colorado ZR2 and Toyota’s imminent refresh of its Tacoma TRD Pro.

Ford Ranger Raptor

[Images: Ford]