2018 Ranger Raptor

The Americans graced the world when they took a standard F-150 and gave it the Raptor name, sporting a crate full of Baja 1000 inspired off-road bits. It was an instant success over in the US and while we have somewhat longed for that style of car, us Australians always had our own unique utility being the performance road-orientated offerings from Ford & Holden Ute division.

But those days are over with local manufacturing concluding in 2017, so what is the future for the Australian utility? Well, taking inspiration from our American cousins, the 2018 Ranger Raptor appears to solve this, at least on the surface.

Based on the 2018 Facelifted model, the Raptor comes with all new running gear including upgraded brakes, Fox Racing coilover suspension, 10-speed transmission donated from the Mustang and some specialist Raptor trim including a widened stance from those overfenders and a blacked-out badgeless grille we’ve seen before on the Yankee Raptor. In my opinion this car looks great, the Ranger was an already fantastic looking utility, and with this flared out body, beefy tyres and chiselled bonnet, it looks like you could tackle the Australian desert at crossing terrain at warp speed like a Bogan BJ Baldwin.

BUT, there is a modification that wasn’t quite expected and is polarising the diehard blue oval fans, the engine. Here we were thinking that Ford was going to drop in a twin turbocharged 3.5L V6 Eco-Boost donk as seen in all their upcoming performance cars in the US. But no, we get a new twin-turbo four cylinder diesel with capacity capped at 2.0L.

The new engine provides more power than its outgoing 3.2L five-pot at 153kw, but only by a slither. Torque is up from ~360nm to a beefy 500nm, so the new lighter engine will be a better performer than the retired five-pot, but for a Raptor, the move away from a bigger-displacement motor is disappointing.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions because I am yet experience the drive, but being that this vehicle would take over the “performance ute” mantle, I find it a little strange that they didn’t take advantage of the amazing powertrains available from Ford. I am sure it will drive great and have modest performance on tap, but the signature dish for the F-150 Raptor is their screaming V8s or their force-fed V6s.

While even we Aussies can accept that the age of big-capacity V8s is drawing to a slow close, the thought of getting a ‘Ranger Raptor’ with the howling 3.5L Ecoboost was a sigh of relief for those of us still mourning the loss of the fallen Barra turbo-six.

So where does this position itself in the market? Being a high-end dual cab I expect it to be around the $70-80,000 marque. Competing with the Mercedes X-Class, VW Amarok V6 TDi and the new HSV Sportscat; another missed opportunity with engine choice in my opinion.

Engine bias aside, I am very much looking forward to driving the new 2018 Ranger Raptor, it is an important ute going into a saturated dual-cab market, and I hope it is different enough from the rest to win over the blue oval fans. After all, smaller displacement and big boost is here to stay...