2023 Ford Ranger Raptor (launch drive)

If you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park and World movies, you’ll know of ranger Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt), who is a raptor expert. You’ll also know his favourite angry dinosaur is named Blue.  For this writer at least, Blue is the outgoing Ford Ranger Raptor.

It’s a very capable and likable truck that’s somewhat sporty and well equipped but overall, the bite isn’t quite there. It’s a little tame in the power department, but still a super capable off roader.

Now there’s a new one, and it’s more like the genetically modified Indominus Rex, which has the good bits of all the best carnivores. Ford’s new Ranger Raptor is much the same. It’s an absolute beast, with agility and power aplenty.

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And so begins our launch drive, the second half of a two day event that has seen us also get behind the wheel of the new Ford Everest. Glamping tents and breakfast aside, it’s straight into a presentation about the active valve exhaust and anti-lag technology.

We also got to learn about the new live springs, the interior that’s been inspired by an F-22 Raptor, and the shiny new twin turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine It produces a whopping 292kW of power and 583Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.5 seconds.

2023 Ford Ranger Raptor
2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

This isn’t just about numbers though. There’s epic theatre too, as the sound and the back burbles when the exhaust is wide open really do put a smile on your face. The fact you can adjust exhaust levels, suspension firmness and steering feel just add to the goodness.

The interior is straight up tough, and there’s six pre-installed auxiliary switches on the roof that click into place like priming ones in a jet fighter. The seats are designed to hug you into corners, enhanced by Code Orange coloured accents all over the place.

The steering wheel is firm and feels sporty in your hand, again complete with a Code Orange notch, much like a racing wheel. The tough exterior borrows plenty from the US F-150 pickup, with a menacing front end the stand out among a host of cues.

The tub on the back has plenty of room too, as do the rear seats inside, which are surprisingly spacious for a ute. Similar to the Ranger on which it’s based, it’s been pre-prepared for ARB accessories too. Time to test it out on the road, and off it.

Seven driving modes now feature, including Normal, Sport, Slippery, Rock, Mud and Ruts, Sand and the off road only Baha. On the blacktop, Normal and Sport are clearly the best choice, but it’s the suspension that’s a proper highlight.

wading
2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

On the straights, the Ranger Raptor is comfortable, but push it into a corner, and while you feel some initial softness, additional throttle will see the suspension stiffen right up, giving a real sports car feel as it hooks into the turn and powers out.

From there it was time to get down and dirty on a high-speed cross country course that even had a jump. For comparison though, our sighting lap was done in the previous generation Raptor, to prepare us for just how different the new one is.

Three laps at full pelt were on offer, and so we took to the track. With the words “go, go, go” being blasted at yours truly, we power slide through the corner and out the other end, around a twisty section and back around to the start where we take on the jump.

This thing is quick. No doubt our attempts at the jump were probably more like unloading the suspension, than jumping, but it’s fair to say it was beyond grin inducing. The brakes handled the high-speed dirt easily, and did so without any fade, despite doing this all day.

Ford’s performance ute definitely had way more to give than the driver had in capability, but we were super impressed, especially with the ESC wound back a little. The Raptor lets you do most of the work, just catching you if you stray too far.

dash
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor

That balance between out-and-out power and just right control is a hard nail to hit for any car maker, but Ford have done a really good job here. We should also mention there were hot laps in the passenger seat with Supercars driver Thomas Randle.

That was a real blast, and not only showed just how capable the new Ranger Raptor is, but also left you giggling like a little kid. From cheesy smiles to a real 4×4 course, it was time to test out the terrain system, as well as the front and rear locking diffs.

The big Ford absolutely smashed the course, lumbering through it all, and whenever things got tough you could put some extra power down and it would just soldier on through. Wading through water was no problem either.

It’s fare to say the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor has a lot to offer as a sports truck that is also genuinely off-road capable. To get into one though, you’ll need to part with $91,640 drive away, and that’s a lot of coin.

It’s loaded with impressive tech, and while it likes a drink, it has power on tap. It’s a generational leap forward over the previous model, and hell, just plain fun to drive, both on the tarmac and in the dirt.

You can spec up your own 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor on the Ford Australia website. If you’re keen to own one, and need finance visit CreditOne.

Our test vehicle was provided as part of a two-day media drive program by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, visit your local Ford dealer.

Dylan Swan
Dylan Swan
IT specialist who loves all things adventure and anything with wheels. Someone who loves a challenge and saying yes to new opportunities.

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