2023 Ford Ranger Raptor (car review)

The 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor is many things, including being a super capable off road battle truck that can offer almost performance car levels of get up and go, on and off the tarmac. More important than all that though, it has Baja mode.

Baja mode is designed for total performance when you’re driving off-road, and things like throttle response and shift quality are sharpened to increase the sporting feel of the vehicle. Think of it as Sport+ from the Mustang GT, for the dirt.

It’s wickedly cool. We took the Raptor off road on a peaceful, tranquil cattle farm outside of Crookwell in country NSW. It was there we found a long stretch of relatively smooth dirt track, in an open paddock full of long grass – and unleashed hell.

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Rest assured we ran this test at speed, but away from the moo cows. Baja mode left us grinning from ear to ear – giggling at how “on edge” you can drive the Raptor – and yet it was still oddly controlled – safe almost – yet completely unhinged.

The performance version of the Ranger is full of grunt and is surprisingly quick. We’re talking 292kW of power and 583Nm of torque kind of goodness from its 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo EcoBoost petrol engine. That’s paired to a 10-speed auto by the way.

2023 Ford Ranger Raptor
2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

It hails from the Ford Performance stable and can trundle its way to 100km/h in 6.0-seconds flat. Let that sink in for a moment. This is an off road focused ute (pickup truck if you’re American), that just happens to have a serious performance bent.

Handling is exceptional, and that’s both on and off road, thanks to the vastly improved suspension the new model comes with. Fox 2.5-inch live valve internal bypass shock absorbers soak up pretty much every bump known to man or woman.

It sports model specific 17-inch alloy wheels with T285/70 R17 BF Goodrich K02 High Performance All-Terrain tyres (you can even opt in beadlock capable wheels. There’s a bevy of drive modes alongside Baja too, including Normal, Sport, Slippery, Mud/Ruts and Sand.

It’s got Rock Crawl mode too, for when you need to climb up or down a mountain (and who doesn’t do that on a regular basis), as well as steering modes (Normal, Comfort, Sport and Off Road) and damper modes (Normal, Off Road and Sport).

We’re not done yet either, there’s selectable exhaust notes, including Quiet (for when you need to sneak out of the street without waking the neighbours at 4am), Normal, Sport and Baja, along with a custom option called My Mode.

2023 Ford Ranger Raptor
2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

The 2023 Ranger Raptor even features Trail Control, which is essentially cruise control for off roading. It helps maintain consistent speeds when traveling up or down terrain and is a real treat for those with less dirt track experience – it even made yours truly look like a pro.

Getting down and dirty aside, it handles itself well on road too, and eats up the miles in relative comfort for both front and rear passengers. But there’s a downside to all that grunt and power, and its hefty kerb weight of nigh on 2,400kg.

If you haven’t guessed already, it’s as thirsty as hell. We managed a best of 10.4-litres/100km in a seriously controlled economy run, but it’s not sustainable and normal eco driving is around 11.7-litres at best.

Go cranky pants and push it hard and you’ll punch your way to 14.0-litres/100km easily, and you’re more likely to be edging 17.0-litres on the regular. That’s a quick way to burn through its 80-litre fuel tank, especially at today’s fuel prices.

On the outside you get a unique ‘F-O-R-D’ block letter grille, matrix LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, a 2.3mm thick steel front bash plate, LED fog lamps and dual tow hooks.

dash
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

You also score LED taillights, a rear bumper with an integrated step pad and factory towbar. The towing capacity is worth noting here at 2,500kg, rather than the regular 3.5 tonne offered on the standard Ranger. It can wade into water up to 850mm deep though.

Rear tow hooks also feature, as do Precision Grey wheel arch extensions and fender vents (the latter are real), and black powder coated die-cast aluminium side steps. Inside, there’s a 12-inch portrait touchscreen infotainment system running Ford’s SYNC 4 architecture.

It’s clear, easy to use, and has a hint of Tesla functionality about it (you can even draw on the screen). Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature, and it sports a B&O sound system. The latter is decent enough if not lacking a little oomph.

The 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster is a nice bit of kit too, and offers some customisation. There’s paddle shifters should you feel the need to go full race car mode, or to use, just for the hell of it.

The super comfortable Ford performance seats are embossed with the Raptor logo and Code Orange accent stitching, and there’s a decent amount of room in the rear seats too. Miss 11 thought she could live there permanently, apparently.

infotainment
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

A 360-degree camera makes parking a breeze too, and the Ranger features a FordPass modem so you can do cool things like check on your monster truck and start it remotely. There’s a wireless charging pad that is pretty good, but won’t hold a super large phone.

You’ll also find an eShifter and electric parking brake. One cool touch is the auxiliary switch bank mounted to the roof. For serious off roaders who run things like extra spot lights, fridges and the like, this is a proper bonus.

On the safety front, you get multiple airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and departure warning, road edge detection, blind spot assist, rear cross traffic assist, adaptive cruise with stop and go, and fully autonomous parking assist.

There are no two ways to talk about the price, it’s bloody expensive at $93,907 drive away. You’re getting a hell of a lot of ute for the money though, and that’s kind of the point. This is a performance truck, make no mistake, and that explains the cost.

We’re just not sure it justifies it. Colour-wise you can opt for Shadow Black, Aluminium Metallic, Arctic White, Meteor Grey, Sedona Orange, Blue Lightning and Code Orange. It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

You can find out more information, or build your own on the Ford Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, contact your local Ford dealer. Exterior images courtesy of Imogen Holgate.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
8.75
Exterior styling
9
Interior look and feel
9
Technology and connectivity
8.5
Family friendliness
8.5
Value for money
7

SUMMARY

Pros - sublime handling on and off road; tonnes of power; great powertrain.
Cons - properly expensive; loves a drink; reduced towing capacity.
Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.

1 COMMENT

  1. If you’re coughing up nearly $100k fuel usage of 10-20 litres per 100Ks isn’t going to be a big issue I’d have thought. Apart from EVs there’s not much else that can provide that sort of performance on the road for under $100k and certainly nothing in the offroad field; personally I’d have to say it’s excellent value for money when compared like for like.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> sublime handling on and off road; tonnes of power; great powertrain.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> properly expensive; loves a drink; reduced towing capacity.2023 Ford Ranger Raptor (car review)