With twin-turbo V6 petrol power, more advanced off-road suspension, and a long list of technical upgrades, the next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor promises to raise the benchmark for performance pick-ups.
The 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor has been revealed ahead of Australian showroom arrivals by the end of this year.
As widely speculated, the new model is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine shared with the Ford Explorer ST performance SUV in the US.
However, this version of the engine has been developed uniquely for the Ford Ranger Raptor and is equipped with anti-lag technology, that keeps the turbos spinning for up to three seconds even after the throttle has been lifted, to provide instant response in performance mode.
With outputs of 292kW/583Nm, Ford has finally answered the call for more grunt after the original Ford Ranger Raptor launched in 2018 was criticised for being under-powered with its twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel (157kW/500Nm).
These figures will make the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor the fastest and most powerful ute in its class.
Although performance numbers are yet to be published, it is expected to do the 0 to 100km/h dash in less than 7.5 seconds – thanks to the epic power and 10-speed auto. It may even get into the six-second bracket, despite weighing an estimated 2.4 tonnes.
By way of comparison, the current Volkswagen Amarok turbo diesel V6 and eight-speed auto does 0 to 100km/h in an as-tested 7.8 seconds.
For now, it appears Ford has no plans to introduce a diesel version of the new-generation Ranger Raptor, which means customers will likely pay more at the bowser.
The claimed maximum outputs are rated using 98-octane premium unleaded; the new twin-turbo V6 petrol Ford Ranger Raptor takes a minimum 95-octane premium unleaded.
Price is yet to be announced, but the new model is expected to cost slightly more than today’s version which is listed at $79,390 plus on-road costs, or about $85,000 drive-away.
The next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor is due to arrive in Australia in late 2022 – pending any delays – some months after the new Ford Ranger line-up arrives mid-2022.
As with the rest of the Ford Ranger line-up, the Raptor gains a host of safety and technology upgrades – such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. And the new Raptor will also get radar cruise control, a feature the outgoing model lacks.
Other good news: the new Ford Ranger Raptor will have a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system that can switch from two-wheel-drive to all-wheel-drive – and can be driven in all-wheel-drive on sealed roads to improve grip, especially in wet weather.
The outgoing Ford Ranger Raptor can only be operated in two-wheel-drive on sealed roads, making it dicey in the wet thanks to the gnarly off-road rubber.
The highly-regarded BF Goodrich KO2 tyres carry over from before, but have been tailored to suit new “adaptive” Fox shock absorbers.
While we now know for sure what is under the bonnet of the new Ford Ranger Raptor, its consumption is anyone’s guess until Ford releases official lab-tested figures.
It is safe to assume that the new model will use more fuel than the current-generation, diesel-powered Ranger Raptor.
The twin-turbo V6 petrol’s peak power and torque figures are attained when using 98RON fuel, but the V6 Ranger Raptor has a minimum recommended octane rating of 95RON petrol.
It is able to run on 95 premium unleaded because, for now, examples sold in Australia will not be fitted with a petrol particulate filter (PPF).
Petrol V6 Ranger Raptors will be fitted with petrol particulate filters (PPF) in other countries, while some regions will offer the new Ranger Raptor with the smaller, less powerful 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine from 2023 onwards.
Using familiar suspension geometry such as a Watts linkage rear end, 2.5-inch (64mm) Fox shock absorbers, 33-inch (838mm) BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres – along with coil springs and (carryover) disc brakes all around – the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor promises to be a more potent four-wheel-drive ute, both on- and off-road.
Wheels retain an off-road friendly 17-inch diameter, and Ford is introducing an optional beadlock-capable wheel for hardcore enthusiasts who want to run ultra-low tyre pressures off-road. Using this wheel and a Ford Performance locking ring, the outer bead can be mechanically locked to the wheel.
However, the wheels can only be used off-road in this guise, as it is illegal to run such a wheel-and-tyre set-up – with the outer bead mechanically locked to the wheel – on public roads in Australia.
There is nothing stopping you, however, from buying the optional beadlock-capable wheels and using them on the road for looks only – but using a standard tyre fitment.
While the new Fox shock absorbers have the same 2.5-inch external diameter and internal bypassing as the outgoing Ranger Raptor, Fox’s Live Valve technology is now used. This makes the shock absorbers adaptive, like what you’ll find in luxury and performance cars – except in this case, they are here to further improve off-road capability.
The Ranger Raptor has the same 2500kg towing capacity as the current model, a clean tonne less than a regular Ford Ranger and most other double-cab utes in the class. And while we don’t know the exact payload figure yet, we’re expecting it to be similar to the current model’s 750-kilogram rating.
The new-generation Ranger Raptor will get two tow hooks at each end, which are rated for off-road usage – as per today’s model. Having two points means users can share the load across each, using an equaliser strap.
In terms of dimensions, the Ford Ranger Raptor picks up the same 50mm wheelbase extension as the rest of the Ranger family, achieved by shifting the front wheels forward. The wheel track remains the same at 1710mm, despite the normal Ranger’s wheel track increasing by 50mm for its latest generation.
This means the Ford Ranger Raptor doesn’t look as aggressive or as wide as the current-generation model, because the difference in width between the two models is reduced by 50mm (to 100mm).
Overall length, width and height of the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor remains approximately the same as the current model.
Inside, upgrades specific to the Ranger Raptor include a 12-inch touchscreen, 12.4-inch instrument display with Raptor-specific views, unique fighter jet-inspired sports seats, Code Orange accents (the new ‘hero’ external colour shown in these images), and a drive mode selector offering a choice of seven profiles.
For a deep dive into everything there is to know about the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, read on.
Deep dive: the engine
No more 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel shared with other Ranger models (in Australia at least, other markets will continue with the 2.0-litre diesel). A turbocharged petrol V6 makes its debut for the Ranger Raptor, setting the powertrain apart from the rest of the Ranger line-up and giving a massive step-up in performance.
With 292kW (392hp) at 5650rpm and and 583Nm of torque at 3500rpm, the 3.0-litre Ecoboost twin-turbo petrol V6 in the 2023 Ranger Raptor represents an 86 percent jump in power and 16 per cent increase in torque over its predecessor.
It beats the Ram 1500 by a single kilowatt, and the Volkswagen Amarok 580 by three Newton metres. It’s worth noting the Raptor’s peak power and torque figures are attained only when using 98RON premium unleaded petrol.
This twin-turbo V6 petrol engine has the potential to dramatically improve the 0 to 100km/h time of the previous generation, which is a less than flattering 10.5 (or so) seconds. Unlike the current-generation Ranger Raptor, this new Raptor shouldn’t have any issues putting the power down with four driven wheels. More on that later.
The twin-turbo V6 3.0-litre petrol engine is a derivative of the engine used in the US Ford Explorer ST large SUV and some Lincoln luxury vehicles. It’s a development of the smaller 2.7-litre petrol V6, which is used in the likes of the Bronco and F-150 in the United States.
The engine’s block is made from compacted iron graphite, which is something of an anomaly for a petrol-powered engine. This material is used for strength, as well as heat resistance. Most other petrol engines these days (as well as some diesels) use aluminium to save weight.
Ford tells us that this compacted iron graphite is 75 per cent stiffer than old-fashioned cast iron.
Twin turbochargers feed compressed air into the six cylinders in a parallel format, servicing three cylinders each. Turbochargers sit on the outside of the engine for Ford’s engine, unlike a ‘hot-vee’ configuration that has sequential turbochargers nestled in between the banks, as is common among European brands.
Peak power coming on tap at 5650rpm and maximum torque available at 3500rpm suggests that this is an engine all about mid-range shove, rather than top-end antics.
Only after driving it will we know how flexible and pliable the engine is for different driving scenarios – however overseas reviews of the similarly-armed Explorer ST suggests prospects are promising.
Flexibility will be aided by an anti-lag system, which will only be operational in Baja mode. It’s a technology that was developed in Formula One in the 1980s, allowing engines to offer greater response by keeping turbochargers spooled between throttle applications.
In the case of the 2023 Ranger Raptor, it does so via a valve that allows air into in the intake, keeping the turbo spinning for up to three seconds between throttle applications.
With this engine, the new Ford Ranger Raptor promises to be one of the most powerful and torque-laden four-wheel-drive utes available on the Australian market, save for the incoming supercharged Ram 1500 TRX via official importer and right-hand drive converter Ateco Automotive.
Only some of the heavy-duty utes such as the the Ram 3500 and Chevrolet Silverado HD – with their six-plus-litre diesel engines – have the Ranger Raptor pipped for torque.
While the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor will continue to be built in Thailand, the new 3.0-litre engine will be sourced from the US. The exact plant is in Lima, Ohio, and is a step change to the Indian-sourced two-litre bi-turbo engine.
The driveline, differentials and brakes
Behind that new V6, you’ll find a 10-speed automatic transmission, similar to the current Ranger Raptor and shared amongst a variety of Ford and Chevrolet vehicles. They joined forces in its development, after all.
The gearbox – known internally as the 10R60 – has been tuned specifically to suit this application, with each ratio carrying its own boost profile.
Behind that, another big change comes in the form of a permanent all-wheel-drive system. This is a change from the part-time, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system that the current-generation Ranger Raptor uses, which allows only rear-wheel drive on bitumen.
Instead, it uses a system designed by BorgWarner that consists of electronically-controlled clutch packs, which grab or slip to introduce more or less drive to the front axle automatically, depending on conditions.
Even with significantly less power, the current-generation Ranger Raptor can be an unpredictable, slippery experience on anything other than dry, high-traction surfaces. While it retains all-terrain tyres, having four wheels driven all the time should make the next-generation Ranger Raptor feel far more planted on wet tarmac.
The front and rear differentials can be electronically locked, with the front differential is a new design.
For when you need to stop, the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor carries over the same braking hardware as the current-generation Raptor. That involves the same 332mm discs front and rear, but Ford engineers say big gains in braking performance been recorded through calibration and fine-tuning of the ABS software.
While the three-litre V6 will no doubt be the talk of the town, there is a chance that the suspension of the Ranger Raptor will remain the king of the party.
Much of it is a carry-over affair, with extended aluminium control arms up front and a live, Watts-linkage rear suspension being refined for this application.
Fox shock absorbers remain with a 2.5-inch outer diameter – the same size as the original (but larger) F-150 Raptor launched in the US in 2010 – and keep the same internal bypassing as the outgoing Ranger Raptor.
This is the crucial ingredient in allowing the current-generation Ranger Raptor to provide such impressive performance off-road, whilst also retaining good ride quality on the road.
However, additional Live Valve technology turns the Fox units into an adaptive damper with active control – much like a modern road-focused performance car, but for off-road use.
Suspension is a more intrinsic part of the vehicle now; computer-controlled and taking readings from suspension, throttle, steering and powertrain to fine tune and further adjust the damping.
There is an electronically-controlled needle valve – which does not look dissimilar to a fuel injector – that can limit or improve the flow of oil into and out of the reservoir. In essence, it can increase and decrease the amount of damping force available, as the shock absorber compresses.
All of this technology is packaged within a protruding section of the shock absorber body, mounted high up near the piggyback reservoir at the rear. Due to packaging restraints with front strut-based suspension, the Live Valve is positioned towards the lower part of the shock absorber.
The oil inside the shock absorber is teflon-infused, which is used for reduced friction and less heat build-up. Heat is the biggest foible of a shock absorber lifespan and performance, and is something an off-road shock absorber will need to handle a lot of.
There are some obvious benefits for the Ranger Raptor in terms of tackling jumps and corrugations. The original Ranger Raptor offers impressive control and composure over rough terrain, but this Live Valve setup has the potential to offer more.
Ford tells us that the shock absorbers can even reduce squatting and diving under hard acceleration and braking.
The Ford F-150 Raptor pick-up and Bronco Raptor four-wheel-drive sold overseas get a larger 3.0-inch diameter shock absorber in their latest iterations, but that is paired with larger 35-inch or 37-inch tyres which are substantially heavier.
So while the Ranger Raptor sticks with 33-inch tyres, Ford’s engineers saw the 2.5-inch high-performance shock absorber as providing enough damping for the application.
Another thing the Bronco Raptor gets – which our Ranger Raptor does not – is a disconnecting front sway bar for additional travel from the front suspension.
Although we don’t yet know pricing for the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, one can rest assured that it’s going to be the most money one could spend on a Blue Oval ute.
To match its price tag, the Ranger Raptor will get the high-end treatment in terms of features and technology. LED lighting is used front and rear, with ‘C-clamp’ LED daytime-running lights and matrix LED headlights.
On the inside, you’ll find the dashboard dominated by a 12-inch portrait infotainment touchscreen, which is houses controls for off-road systems and locking differentials, amongst more regular responsibilities.
This system supports software updates over the air, can communicate with owners via Ford’s app, and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
This is joined by a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster, which is able to run through a variety of different configurations and displays.
There are three driving modes to choose for on-road use: Normal, Sport and Slippery. For off-road usage, there are Rock Crawl, Sand, Mud/Ruts and Baja settings to choose from.
Along with a more refined hill descent control system, there is also what Ford calls Trail Control. It’s the brand’s own take on an off-road traction control system, akin to what Toyota and Land Rover offer. Ford’s system operates up to 32km/h, allowing the driver to focus on steering without having to worry about acceleration or braking.
The 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor is expected to arrive in Australian showrooms before the end of 2022.