Ford Ranger Raptor review – The only bakkie you will ever need – TopAuto
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Ford Ranger Raptor review – The only bakkie you will ever need

I recently spent 10 days living with a “Race Red” Ford Ranger Raptor, and in my opinion, it’s the only bakkie you will ever need.

Yes, at a starting price of R920,300 it’s one of the more expensive bakkies in the country, but this special-edition Ford provides much more than meets the eye.

The Raptor stands taller and wider than most bakkies on the market and is more attractive, too.

This is thanks to an aggressive body kit, beefy tires, 17-inch wheels, and 2.5-inch Fox shocks that can take any bump you throw at them.

There might be competitors in terms of price and capabilities – think VW Amarok V6 and Toyota Hilux Legend – but in terms of fun-to-drive, the Ranger Raptor has no competition.

Bi-Turbo Beast

The Ford Ranger Raptor was released in 2019 as a road-going interpretation of a Baja truck.

It was fitted with a bespoke body kit and shocks that offer 33% more suspension travel to suit its desert-demolishing personality.

It also debuted the powerful 2.0-litre, bi-turbo diesel engine found in most top-end Ford bakkies today, putting out 157kW and 500Nm.

Keen to test out what this set-up is capable of, and not having any Gauteng-based deserts to take the Raptor to, I found myself on a 4×4 track over the weekend.

On a long stretch of dirt road – around 5km – I toggled the Raptor to its Baja drive mode and switched over to four-wheel high.

Bump after a bump, the bakkie took with ease.

I reached three-digit cruising speeds down a stretch of dirt flanking a railroad, and if I were to guess where I was based on the steering, ride smoothness, and cabin noise alone, I would’ve thought I was driving on a highway.

This bakkie provides a mixed sensation of adrenaline and self-assurance on the dirt that is unparalleled from my experience.

I then lined up the Raptor in front of a hill I thought would be challenging, seeing as the bakkie’s made for racing and not rock crawling.

A turn on a knob next to the gear lever threw it into four-wheel-drive low, a few clicks on the steering wheel set it into the correct drive mode, and the Raptor attacked the hill as effortlessly as it did the road – albeit much slower.

The built-in gyroscope read that we had passed a 20-degree incline when we reached the top, and the Raptor leisurely rode over.

The rest of the day consisted of crossing off-road obstacles, without a hint of complaint from this bakkie.

The 10-speed automatic was a pleasure to drive with, too, and I preferred auto mode to manual mode – which under sudden acceleration was a bit hesitant at times.

In the city

As for the Raptor’s city-going personality, it performed well.

The cabin is luxurious for the segment and features body-hugging, heated leather seats with suede inserts, an 8-inch infotainment display with smartphone mirroring, a luxurious soft-touch dash and steering wheel, and FordPass Connect compatibility.

The latter is a smartphone app that surprised me when using it for the first time.

As I started the Raptor from my phone early one morning, it preheated the seats and air conditioner before I got in.

Despite the comfortable cabin putting you at ease, there are still a few things you must keep in mind with this large bakkie when driving around town.

The wide and tall body struggles to fit everywhere and you always have to pay attention to height limits, lane markings, and parking lines.

It’s not as home in the city as the less-athletic bakkies are as a result, but it’s not unlivable with in the slightest.

The same goes for the drive, where the Raptor feels almost standard, but not quite.

Its steering sensation is as light and agile as any modern bakkie, but the ride is slightly more wallowy thanks to the specialised suspension.

It is hardly noticeable if you don’t pay attention to it, and once you put the beautiful blue Fox shocks to the test, you forget about the bouncier ride altogether.

During my time with the Raptor, I also developed two small gripes with the cabin.

The first is only the driver’s door has a one-touch automatic window. The second is the enormous shifter paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Cool as they might look, they are so big that I was able to change gears using my knees – and this happened unintentionally, several times.

Another point to note is the engine sound enhancer in the cabin that provides a brawny, but artificial, engine noise when driving at higher revs.

While everyone has their opinion on this, I personally found the enhanced engine noises the perfect addition to a dynamic driving session.

The Raptor is also the only vehicle that has ever made me excited to see a speed bump in the road, as it handles them with ease no matter what speed you go.


I’ve always been a big fan of low-riding coupes, but the Ranger Raptor has shown me how much fun a bakkie can be.

If the Raptor is on your list of maybes, I’d say you should give it serious consideration.

It might not be as refined as a R1-million VW Amarok, or as capable and robust as a Toyota Land Cruiser 79, but it justifies its asking price a lot better, without compromising on much.

The Race Red exterior is also something I’d recommend. In my opinion, it highlights the Raptor’s fierce personality.

Ford Ranger Raptor

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