The wide tyres make more of a noise than regular-sized rubber, but they’re not obtrusively loud. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The wide tyres make more of a noise than regular-sized rubber, but they’re not obtrusively loud. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The Ford Ranger Raptor doddled through our bumpy off-road testing course without batting an eyelid.

Not that we were surprised. With its fancy Fox suspension, elevated ground clearance and chunky tyres, the bakkie takes to bumpy trails like a penguin to chasing sardines.

A couple of months into its six-month stay with us, the Raptor has yet to find an off-road obstacle it is unable to scramble over. We will try find more challenging trails and keep you posted.

In the meantime, we took the vehicle on a long-distance tarmac trip to see how it fared outside its primary comfort zone. Although it encountered hazards — more of which later — the Ford maintained its composure in all environments.

Steering the bakkie takes a little more arm muscle than usual due to those chunky tyres, and you need to use the side step to hoik yourself up into that high cabin, but otherwise there aren’t many compromises in day-to-day living with this off-road-focused bakkie.

We were a little worried that the chunky off-road tyres might get prematurely worn on our road trip from Jozi to KwaZulu-Natal, but the edges on those knobbly treads still look sharp. The wide tyres also make more of a noise than regular-sized rubber, but they’re not obtrusively loud.

The long cruise gave us a chance to experience some of the driver-assist features of the flagship Ford Ranger, including the lane-keeping function. In general it worked fine and kept the vehicle in its lane with reduced steering effort from the driver, but we switched the function off in strong cross winds as these caused the big vehicle to veer more forcefully between painted lines.

The infotainment system is user-friendly and there’s voice control to supplement the touchscreen. A pair of front USB ports keeps smartphones charged up, with 12V and 230V power sockets in the rear seat catering for accessories such as camping lamps.

Leather-and-suede seats and lane-keeping assist are part of the Raptor’s standard repertoire. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Leather-and-suede seats and lane-keeping assist are part of the Raptor’s standard repertoire. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

These features, together with the roomy cabin and large load box, make the Raptor a prime family holiday vehicle. It is less of a workhorse than other Ranger models, with a 607kg payload instead of 860kg, and towing capacity reduced from 3,500kg to 2,500kg.

With just over 10,000km on the odo the test vehicle’s cabin still looks new, with no wear visible. In places the interior looks plasticky compared to the upmarket ambience of a VW Amarok, but the Raptor’s nicely spruced up with contrast stitching on the dashboard, and leather-and-suede seats — the latter proving comfortable on a long road trip.

The Raptor could do with more power to better live up to its rally-inspired looks and handling, but the 157kW 2.0l turbo diesel engine fares competently on a long cruise. It lacks sporting thrust but the bakkie eats long miles with little effort and overtakes long trucks with decent swiftness.

The 10-speed auto transmission smoothly keeps the engine in the power band, shifting through its many gears without jarring. The revs are kept low for cruising, which contributed to the Raptor averaging 9.8l/100km on the Jozi to KwaZulu-Natal cruise — impressive economy for a vehicle of its size and brick-like aerodynamics.

The big side steps are useful for hoiking yourself up into the high cabin. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The big side steps are useful for hoiking yourself up into the high cabin. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The rally-bred Fox suspension which makes the Raptor such an effective off road vehicle also ensures the bakkie has bump-soaking ride comfort on the tar. With its cushy ride and gumball tyres this bakkie takes poorly surfaced roads in its stride, and that’s what I like most about the Raptor; you can drive through most potholes rather than having to swerve around them.

Not that it doesn’t swerve well. The big Ford handles pretty smartly for its size, as we discovered when zigzagging to avoid rocks thrown by children at the Mooi River toll plaza. In SA, some road hazards are worse than others.

 

Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder turbo diesel

Capacity: 1,996cc

Power: 157kW

Torque: 500Nm

Transmission

Type: 10-speed automatic

Drivetrain

Type: Rear wheel drive, with selectable four wheel drive and low range

Performance

Top speed: N/A

0-100km/h: N/A

Fuel Consumption: 11.8l/100km (combined); 9.8l /100km (freeway)

Emissions: 220g/kg

Standard Features

Electronic stability control, hill descent control, ABS brakes, seven airbags, rear view parking camera, park distance sensors, cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep system, hill-launch assist, electrically adjustable driver seat, leather seats, smart keyless entry and push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, electric windows, dual-zone climate control, Ford Sync 3 infotainment system with navigation, electronic shift-on-the-fly 4x4 selector, terrain management system, Fox performance suspension, 283mm ground clearance, tailgate with lift assistance, multifunction steering wheel, 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres, protective steel belly pan.

Warranty: Four years/120,000km

Service plan: Six years/90,000km

Price: R920,300

Lease*: R19,648 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Ford Ranger Raptor

We like: All-surface ability, ride quality

We dislike: Could do with more power

Verdict: A double cab for all adventures

Motor News star rating

Design *****

Performance ***

Economy ****

Safety ****

Value for money ****

Overall ****

Competition

Isuzu Arctic AT 35, 130kW/380Nm — R906,900

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