UPDATE 8/16/22: This review has been updated with test results.
From the September 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
Ford first applied the Raptor treatment to the F-150 pickup in 2009, and the overwhelming response proved that suspension upgrades can be glamorous. Now it’s applied Raptor-grade high-speed desert capability and frame-scraping rock-crawling talents to the Bronco, to which we say: Take our money.
Starting at $70,095, the four-door-only Bronco Raptor isn’t cheap. But what you get goes much further than the Bronco’s existing Sasquatch package. To create the Raptor, Ford began with massive 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain K02 tires, rollers large enough to serve as flotation devices. Nearly every suspension component has been fortified, and the Fox Live Valve 3.1 dampers offer three settings of adjustability and external reservoirs on the rear units. The result is a lengthy 13.0 inches of wheel travel up front and 14.0 inches in the rear—respectively 4.3 inches and 3.6 inches more than the Sasquatch has. Tipping the scales at 5764 pounds—793 more than a four-door Sasquatch—it’s also gained considerable mass. (Fuel economy, though, is predictably abysmal with an EPA combined rating of 15 mpg.)
The front of the frame has been internally reinforced, and an additional crossmember in the front of the roll cage and a carbon “bow tie” brace at the back increase body rigidity by a claimed 50 percent. And because the spare tire can weigh north of 100 pounds and Ford builds Raptors to take flight, the Blue Oval even strengthened the SUV’s spare-tire carrier. With front and rear tracks more than six inches wider than a Sasquatch’s, there’s no mistaking the Raptor’s girth.
Our drive took us to Southern California’s Johnson Valley, home of the brutal King of Hammers off-road race and where Ford did most of the Bronco Raptor development. This playground of dry lake beds and rutted two-tracks is prime for exploiting the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6’s 418 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of twist. The G.O.A.T. dial can summon Baja mode in the new 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and there’s an R button on the steering wheel to quickly access a personalized drive mode. At the test track, the Raptor hustled to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.4 at 94 mph.
Running fast across rough terrain, we keep reflexively wincing at impending impacts—here comes a ditch!—only to find that the Fox dampers shrug off hits that might crush the bump stops on other four-by-fours. Any Jeep Wrangler would certainly eject its occupants to the moon at this pace. Baja mode triggers the turbochargers’ anti-lag function, and there’s negligible delay in the power delivery during the quick on/off throttle sequences common to desert running. And torque interruption is nil when paddle-shifting the 10-speed automatic.
But King of the Hammers isn’t all high-speed work, and the winding trails leading to the peaks surrounding Johnson Valley are littered with boulders. The Bronco Raptor, though, has 13.1 inches of ground clearance, 1.6 inches more than a Sasquatch. A layer of armor protects the vitals, and even the muffler has welded loops to guard its shell. The approach, break-over, and departure angles all exceed those of a Wrangler equipped with the Extreme Recon package.
With 4.70:1 gears housed in the Dana axles and 3.06:1 low range, there’s abundant low-end shove to get the Raptor up and over boulders, and the Bronco also makes quick work of the valley’s intense rock shelves. Ford’s Rock Crawl mode puts the two-speed transfer case in low range, locks the rear differential, and disconnects the front anti-roll bar. The front diff can be locked with the push of a button, and the front camera’s feed acts as a digital spotter. Know also that you can easily unbolt the running boards from the rock sliders that protect the rocker panels and, with a little more work, remove the outer edges of the burly front bumper.
Of course, getting to that choice trail will likely require traversing some pavement, where the Bronco Raptor is perfectly livable. Drive it hard into a corner—the calipers grab the upsized rotors, the nose dives, and the tail end wants to take the lead, yet it’s a perfectly coordinated exercise. There’s the expected wind noise from the removable top, as with all Broncos, but ride quality is excellent for a rig so focused on life in the dirt.
Yes, the ultimate Bronco is predictably hyperbolic. Except under the hood, where that 3.0-liter V-6 feels like the only place where Ford pulled a punch—what, the F-150 Raptor’s 3.5-liter wouldn’t fit? But with an F-150 Raptor R on the horizon and Jeep selling a 470-hp Wrangler, we suspect this Raptor isn’t the final word on Bronco performance. For now, though, the Raptor flies high as the baddest Bronco ever built.
#Ford #Bronco #Raptor #Lives #Hype