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Touchdown: Dramatic New Ford Ranger Raptor Spreads Its Wings

After an almost anonymous confirmation teaser buried in the stock model reveal last year, a relatively brief teaser campaign, and countless speculative reports, Ford has finally made it to the covers of the all-new, second-generation Ranger Raptor.

One of the most highly anticipated new models of the year, the Raptor, which the Blue Oval claims is “rewriting the rulebook for off-road performance”, arrives as the most aggressive interpretation of any generation of Ranger to date since the name replaced the Courier as exactly 40 years ago its own model in North America.

Subjected to the same rigorous testing program as his brother, the bird of preyas suggested by not only the said teaser but also spy image from last monthrepresents a significant departure from the outgoing model not only inside and out, but also underneath.

Aesthetically, the signature block FORD lettering remains on the grille, although more staggered and underlined by a smaller bumper with an integrated 2.3-inch steel bash plate.

More reminiscent of the F-150 Raptor than ever before, the muscular stance features wider wheel arches with black trim to accommodate the 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires, Matrix LED as standard headlights, new die-cast aluminum side steps and a step integrated into the redesigned rear bumper.

New Ford Ranger Raptor unveiled
Still compact, but much more aggressive than before

Inside, the Raptor’s interior, like the regular Ranger, differs dramatically from that of the outgoing model, both in appearance and design.

The tablet-like twelve-inch touchscreen infotainment system with SYNC 4 software, lifted from the Wildtrak, comes standard, along with the 12.4-inch digital instrument panel, though brilliant with graphics and readouts tailored to the Raptor.

Not shared with the Wildtrak or any other model, but additional unique details inside include Code Orange (a Bronco Raptor color) accents on the dash and new steering wheel, cast magnesium paddle shifters, a first Raptor ambient lighting system and new sport seats are said to be inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

The biggest change from the current Raptor, however, is under the newcomer’s skin, where the already high-tech chassis has been beefed up and the frame itself revised to handle not only the varying terrain but also the new powerplant up front.

The upper and lower arms are made from lightweight aluminum, the upgraded suspension further includes a new Watt’s rear linkage design and all-new front and rear shock mounts, and turrets that are claimed to “handle challenging off-road conditions.”

ALSO READ: WATCH: New Ford Ranger Raptor goes airbone in first official teaser

A hallmark of the previous Raptor, the Fox Racing dampers complete the suspension transformation, albeit with significant changes.

Compared to the original adaptive position-sensitive damping setup, the new Live Valve configuration still monitors terrain and conditions via an array of sensors, albeit with better damping and absorption thanks to the shocks filled with a Teflon-infused oil. Ford claims it reduces friction by 50% compared to the current Raptor.

Developed specifically for the Raptor by Fox and Ford Performance, the dampers also provide what the former company calls bottom-out control, increasing damping force by renaming 25% of the shock to maximum.

Somewhat surprisingly, no details about ground clearance were made, and the same goes for approach, approach and departure angles.

In another departure from the old Raptor, the newcomer ditches the part-time four-wheel drive system for a permanent four-wheel drive configuration, while also adding an electronically controlled transfer case and electronic front and rear differential locks to mix.

New Ford Ranger Raptor unveiled
The digital instrument panel and infotainment system feature custom Raptor displays.

Also tweaked, the Terrain Management System now comes with seven modes that adjust throttle response, transmission, steering, traction control and even display in the instrument cluster and on the infotainment system.

They include the standard Normal, Slippery, Sport, Sand, Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl which can only be selected in a low range, and a revised Baja setting.

For the first time, Ford has also developed a unique exhaust system that uses an electronic active system, plus a pair of valves in the pipes, to provide a customized soundtrack depending on the mode selected. Activated by a button on a steering wheel, four settings are offered; Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja.

One of the giveaway factors that immediately caught the attention during the said teaser video, the presence of the exhaust system soundtrack during a full chat, led to a change of the powerplant from petrol diesel.

While certain markets will continue with a revised 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel engine starting next year, the Raptor is seeing the standard unit switch to six-cylinder power, more specifically, and in line with previous rumorsthe twin-turbo 3.0 EcoBoost V6 used in Explorer ST and the recently unveiled Bronco Raptor

New Ford Ranger Raptor unveiled
The chassis has been reinforced and the suspension has been completely redesigned.

The V6 is said to have been prompted by customer demand and mated to a recalibrated version of the General Motors co-developed ten-speed automatic gearbox, and thanks to the added inclusion of an anti-lag system, it produces 292 kW/563 Nm.

The Bronco and Explorer are down eight kilowatts and torque remains unchanged, but the V6 delivers a significant 135 kW more than the oil burner with torque rising 63 Nm.

No performance figures were disclosed, with Ford also confirming that the 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 for the standard Ranger is not offered because it was never considered an option for the EcoBoost or even a replacement for the four-cylinder biturbo.

While market specification and rollout will begin later this year, it is known that unlike the standard Ranger, the Raptor will no longer be produced at Ford’s Silverton plant outside of Pretoria.

Instead, it will most likely be imported from the Rayong factory in Thailand to ease the pressure on Silverton, where the Ranger will be produced alongside the new Everest and the all-new Volkswagen Amarok.

However, for now, details on pricing or availability are unknown, but expect an announcement in the coming months.

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