Rapturous about the Raptor? -  Or Waiting for the New Ford Ranger for 2019

The problem about truck reviews is that you know they’ve kind of been sponsored by the manufacturer and sometimes you have to add a pinch of salt and sometimes the whole salt pot. Personally I don’t mind American muscle, I’ve had a Jeep Cherokee for donkey’s years, the last one before the current model did 208k miles. So nearly a year after the Raptor’s debut in the UK I wonder how they are getting on. I haven’t seen more than one all year. At 2,500 kilos the baby was certainly chunky, with 35 inch off road tyres by Goodrich, which despite my cheapskate concerns retail at about £115, which is pretty reasonable.  They reckon they are as good on road as off, but my last Goodrich tyres were pretty road noisy. K.S. International don’t currently stock Raptor parts, because there are so few in the UK, as only really Clive Sutton the luxury guys import it at a hefty £78k. And for the most part the Ranger is a pretty good go.   So 2017 was definitely not the year of the Raptor in the UK, what will Ford have to do to raise the profile SUV here?

A New Dawn for Ford?-Or Last Chance Saloon?

Well for 2019 there will be a new global Ford Ranger as announced at the North American International Auto Show this month. For the USA it will be made in America, so if you are used to Mazda quality it may not be so good- although the Australian chassis design is still there, but modified for the punters in the US.  The new model marks the first Ford entry into the mid-size pickup truck segment with this fourth-generation Ford Ranger. It will be interesting to see which way they go on engine with no diesel variant as yet announced what with the general trend of consumers to be down on the diesel alternative. Everyone I know is sceptical about the Tesla SUV, but with 7 hours battery running time and a price around that of the Ford Raptor with a  range of 450-520 kilometres  I wonder if this signals that this is Ford’s last hurrah for traditional flat bed hydro-carbon powered trucks. Are hybrids going to be the way? They can’t be for commercial vehicles, but for how long? We’ll keep you posted.

I’ve run them on old V8 Raptors and open-wheel buggies in Baja, with impressive results. A new Raptor just finished the Baja 1000 on a set without getting a flat. (Unconfirmed, but as told to me by two Ford reps on Sunday.)

Steering, which has three modes independent of the truck’s drive modes, felt extremely light at low speed in “Normal.” Like, “are we sure the front wheels are on the ground” light. It becomes less dramatic once you’re earnestly underway, and the “Comfort” mode didn’t feel appreciably different for me. “Sport” steering, however, added a nice layer of artificial weight to the rack’s response which made me feel a lot more confident coming hot around corners.

Under normal cruising or straight-ahead flying, you might as well be sitting in your boss’s office chair. Stern, confident, with just enough softness to float on. Road feedback is muted, but it’s very easy to keep the truck moving where you want it to.

But you won’t. It’s a 450 HP Raptor. Giddy up on the gas and downshifts can be a little rough. In manual mode, the magnesium paddle shifters are fun to use with a very satisfying click as you slap up and down. Actual response from the gearbox felt fine.

I didn’t see the kind of quickness I’ve been spoiled by with a Porsche PDK or the paddles in a Nissan GT-R, which is not surprising, but the Raptor’s paddle experience was good enough to be taken seriously.

Putting the truck in “Sport” mode with the transmission in regular-old-automatic “D” makes the truck quicker to downshift when you get on the gas and holds gears longer on its way to redline. So yeah, it makes the vehicle a little more excited to be driven aggressive