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Ford Ranger Raptor Special Edition Review

Introduction

While Americans get the F-150 Raptor pickup truck, we Brits have to make do with something a little more suited to UK roads. Still, the Ranger is no shrinking violet and, in Raptor form, has grown a little more with dramatic body extensions and jacked-up suspension.

Now there’s a special edition model, simply called the SE. It’s got plenty to shout about, but is it worth a look over the more sensible (and cheaper) Ranger Wildtrak?

Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5

At a Glance

The regular Ranger Raptor isn't the most subtle vehicle on the roads. It’s already 15cm wider than the standard Ranger, sits 5cm higher to give its specially strengthened chassis room to clear obstacles, and wears crazy General Grabber AT3 tyres that look more suited to the Kalahari than Kettering.

The Special Edition model takes all of that and adds a few cosmetic accoutrements to boost its already pretty significant presence. New graphics around the truck highlight the pickup's lineage, but the bold bonnet stripes, matt black finish to the grille, mirrors, steps, sports bar and everything else Ford could paint black, and unique alloy wheels make it stand out even more.


Ford says that it’s added ‘extra badness’ but this really is a slight update to something that was already ‘bad’ enough.

It remains very much the same Ranger Raptor underneath, though. There’s no upgrade to the engine, so there’s no more power (something that will be resolved on next year’s beefier new model) and no more capability than it already had.

Key Features

Ignore the bold styling. The thing that stands out about the Ranger Raptor SE is its un-burstable off-road performance. It’s been given a hefty upgrade over the standard Ranger pickup truck, starting with a strengthened chassis that can cope with anything we could throw at it.

As well as bespoke aluminium double-wishbone suspension at the front and multi-link suspension at the rear, lifting the truck by 51mm over a regular Ranger, Ford has gone to suspension experts Fox for upgrades to dampers. 


These have ‘Position Sensitive Damping’ which moderates damping forces depending on changing driving scenarios. The result is significant, with the upgrades allowing the Raptor to take far harsher punishment than anything else on the road.

As well as the usual Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes, there’s also a Baja mode - named after the famous Baja 1000 rally that traverses the Baja California peninsula. That gives a clue as to what Ford thinks the Raptor SE can do…

Performance & Drive

Despite the big, bold and brash styling, you might be surprised to find that there’s the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine under the bonnet that you will find in any other Ranger. It develops 213hp, which is good but no more than you’ll get from a Ranger Wildtrak. It’s no surprise then that the Raptor isn’t any faster than the regular model. Until you venture off-road, that is…

That beefed-up suspension, the chunky tyres and the tough protection under the truck mean you can abuse it. Racing along at speed and spot that the ground ahead looks a little like a ramp? No problem, just launch off it and let the Fox suspension soak up the landing. Try that in an SUV!


The reality is that the Raptor will rarely venture off the beaten track though, with most drivers tackling nothing more terrifying than the school playing field when it’s used as an overflow car park at parent’s evening.

Happily, when the Ranger Raptor SE is on the road it is, without doubt, the finest, most comfortable pickup truck available. The 17-inch wheels with 33-inch tyres absorb a huge amount of the everyday ripples and cracks on our roads, while the soft suspension takes care of longer undulations. As ever, it’s not quite up to modern car standards, but it’s as close as a pickup has ever got.

Running Costs

It’s probably best to look away now, especially if you’re thinking of leasing one via your company and claiming back the VAT element: you can’t do that.

HMRC requires that a dual-purpose vehicle (a pickup with four doors) can carry more than a tonne of cargo in the back, or it’s classified as a passenger vehicle. While every other pickup meets those demands, the toughened Raptor truck can’t manage that. That means the taxman will keep the 20%, whether you like it or not.

Then you’ll have to look at your fuel bill. Over a week of driving the Raptor SE, covering plenty of gentle motorway miles as well as urban traffic and some country roads, the onboard computer reported an average economy figure of just 19.8mpg. Yikes!

But let’s be realistic here: Are you really looking at a Ranger Raptor SE to save money? To get an idea of which financing options might benefit your lease, read our guide discussing the best finance option.

Interior and Technology

Despite its age, we like the Ranger’s cabin. It feels better than its more modern rivals, and remains modern and pleasingly car-like in its appearance, although there are a few too many buttons that can get very confusing, even after living with the vehicle for some time.

Most of the issues are cancelled out by the impressive Sync 3 infotainment system. This operates from a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen that sits at the top of the centre stack and houses the DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and navigation system. 


There’s voice control, options to connect to Ford apps on your phone, and myriad other buttons to press but, once you’ve got it all set up, you’re unlikely to venture too far from the front screen. Happily, there’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so you can connect your smartphone and stream your own music.

The Raptor upgrades are plentiful, although they don’t make too much difference. Top of the list are the leather seats that offer impressive support, even when pushing the Raptor to its limits. Beyond that, the dashboard panel is a unique shade of grey, while there’s red stitching all over the place. Even the steering wheel gets a red patch to highlight where up is - something that’s surprisingly helpful when tackling tough terrain.

Payload and Practicality

All of the upgrades to the Raptor SE have had quite an impact, but it’s not a positive one for those wanting to carry a lot of cargo. The payload capacity has been cut to just 620kg which, once you’ve got four sturdy passengers on board, doesn’t leave much leeway for anything in the back.

Crucially, it’s also under the HMRC arbitrary one-tonne limit to qualify as a commercial vehicle. That means business lessees will be paying the VAT element, unable to reclaim the 20% tax. That’s not something that will worry private users, of course.

Towing limits have also been cut, down from 3,500kg to 2,500kg, limiting its usefulness to some.

Safety

Euro NCAP hasn’t ever looked at the Raptor, but the regular Ranger scored a full five-star rating when tested. That was 10 years ago though, so take those results with a pinch of salt, as the testing regime has moved on since then.


However, the Ranger Raptor SE is fitted with a suite of technology to keep you safe, including cruise control, intelligent speed assist, traffic sign recognition and lane-keeping assist and departure warning. There’s also automatic emergency braking, with pedestrian detection, which works to prevent or mitigate an impending collision.

For low-speed risks, you’ll find parking sensors at the rear of the truck, as well as a reversing camera.

Options

Options are rather limited for this limited-edition truck. The truck comes in white, or you can pay £600 and pick between blue or grey. And that’s it, that’s all your options listed. Go on, go crazy!


Rival Pickups

Is there a rival for the Ranger Raptor SE? Arguably not, as there’s nothing that blends the sheer over-the-to nature of the Raptor with unstoppable off-road performance and smooth on-road performance.

The forthcoming Toyota Hilux GR Sport will add a more sporting bent to the pickup world, but it’s not got any more power and won’t be as capable off-road.

Both the Toyota and the Isuzu D-Max will be getting the Arctic Trucks treatment though, which will include significant upgrades to the suspension for intense off-road situations. On-road behaviour is unlikely to be much to write home about though.

So the current ranger Raptor SE’s biggest rival is probably the next-generation Ranger Raptor that arrives in 2023. That will have more power, similar capabilities, and likely a significantly higher price tag.


Verdict

How can you recommend a pickup truck that’s compromised as a commercial vehicle, upgraded to cover situations most buyers won’t ever face, and with a price tag that, to say the least, is eye-watering?

Rationally, it makes no sense, but then anybody who wants a Raptor SE parked outside their house is unlikely to be too worried about things making sense. It’s a pickup truck equivalent of a Mustang, something that stirs the soul and shouts for attention rather than just getting on with the job.

It exists to make a statement on behalf of the driver, and it does that better than anything else I can think of.

Where to next?

View our latest Ford Ranger Raptor Leasing Deals here! 

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent website reviews of the Ford Ranger Raptor

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