The Ford Bronco Raptor has been a very long time coming, and I’m completely happy to report that the wait has been price it. When Ford introduced the return of the Bronco in 2020, many off-road lovers within the U.S. had been satisfied the Bronco can be unable to depose the Jeep Wrangler as king of the hill. While the Bronco may make its combat in opposition to the Wrangler, finally, it will lose due to its unbiased entrance suspension. Or in order that they stated.
Whereas the Jeep Wrangler tolerates the on-road discomfort of a stable axle suspension, the Bronco was completely happy to cede a little bit of talent off-road for higher dealing with due to IFS. Well, not anymore: the Ford Bronco Raptor can rock crawl, and desert run and even carve a canyon — all whereas being a decently comfy each day driver. Provided you could get previous its obnoxiously broad fenders.
Full disclosure: Ford invited me to Palm Springs, California to drive the beefy Bronco Raptor. The firm flew me out, put me up in a pleasant resort and even fed me grits. The Ford Performance crew took me to Johnson Valley, the place we drank a number of water and ate salty snacks. Then, for some motive, the crew thought it’d be a good suggestion to let a first-timer like me rock crawl and pace over trails finest left to the professionals who race in The King of the Hammers.
All-New Bronco Raptor, All-New Specs
Those broad Bronco Raptor fenders barely cowl the usual 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s fitted on 17-inch alloy wheels. From fender to fender, the Bronco Raptor is 85.7 inches broad, a full 9.8 inches wider than the base Bronco. You may as nicely spherical as much as ten inches, as a result of a distinction of virtually one foot is an efficient approach to visualize the Raptor.
The wheelbase is 116.5 inches, similar as all four-door Broncos; sadly, a two-door Bronco Raptor won’t be out there. For that matter, neither will a handbook transmission. I really feel as pissed off as you, however extra on that later. Let’s speak suspension.
In order to make the Bronco into an Ultra4 car for common drivers, Ford Performance says it centered on the body and suspension. FP took elements from the F-150 Raptor and tailored them to the Bronco chassis, which is predicated on the Ranger. These tailored elements embrace stronger A-arms and knuckles, plus a couple of modifications distinctive to the Bronco Raptor, like taller shock towers to suit new, larger semi-active dampers. The Raptor has a Dana 44 entrance axle and a Dana 50 rear, each with digital lockers and 4.70 gears.
These modifications don’t change the Bronco’s bones as a lot as reinforce them. Here’s the Bronco Raptor chassis with upgraded parts highlighted: Blue is for body modifications, and yellow is for suspension upgrades.
All in all, the modifications make the most effective of the Bronco’s IFS and five-link stable rear axle. The monitor is 8.6 inches wider, and the suspension upgrades give the Bronco Raptor 13 inches of entrance wheel journey, 14 inches on the rear. The Bronco Raptor has an strategy angle of 47.2 levels, whereas breakover is 30.8 and departure is 40.5. The modifications and reinforcements added 1,000 kilos to its towing capability, for a brand new max score of 4,500 kilos.
I’m not kidding in regards to the fenders. The Bronco Raptor is so broad, I ran into the rattling factor greater than as soon as whereas strolling round it taking pictures photos. I wore my folly proudly: a chalk-white tire print on blue chinos that spanned the size of my leg.
But wider fenders, larger tires and a greater suspension didn’t earn the Bronco a Raptor badge by themselves. The engine wanted upgrades and the transmission did, too. FP gave this Raptor an unique twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine, which makes 418 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,750 rpm. So proper earlier than the tach hits 3,000, the Bronco shoves you again and also you’ll hear the turbos whine, a high-pitched, flat sound from the horses’s snout.
It’s a bit unnerving to propel ahead that forcefully, tucked within the driver seat of a Bronco Raptor weighing 5,731 kilos. That’s curb weight, thoughts you. When it’s transferring, the Bronco Raptor feels prefer it leaves a 3rd of its weight behind.
Bronco Raptor Let Loose within the City
The Bronco’s efficiency snuck up on me. I’ll be trustworthy: I hated it at first.
The first leg of the drive was in Palm Springs, on slim metropolis streets. Of course, the streets weren’t all that slim; they simply felt that approach behind the wheel of this additional broad machine. I used the black tie-downs on the main edges of the hood to see the place I used to be in my lane, like rifle sights at the enterprise finish of the Bronco. It wasn’t the most effective technique, contemplating how far the fender flares attain previous the width of the hood.
Luckily, the seating place is pushed far to the left. I believe Ford did an excellent job of placing the motive force the place visualizing a vector is fairly straightforward.
In city, the Bronco Raptor was loud and indignant. It held gears too lengthy and blipped the throttle at any time when I might gradual at a cease gentle. It additionally revved to excessive hell. Great, I believed. Another outsized off-roader with an unabashed connection to the Cretaceous Period, which may’t see over its personal hood to identify the irony in entrance it. Can’t we simply depart these previous issues prior to now?
I glanced right down to examine what gear I used to be in as I used to be taking off on the subsequent gentle and, certain sufficient, the ten-speed computerized transmission obtained to 3rd earlier than I cleared the intersection. Then, it simply held on. I paddle-shifted to fourth gear and the Bronco Raptor settled. That’s once I observed I used to be in Sport mode, certainly one of seven drivetrain settings. There’s Normal, Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Off-Road, Rock Crawl and Baja. You’ll largely need Normal across the metropolis. After switching modes, the Bronco turned civil. Sort of.
It wasn’t an entire totally different animal, however it was barely extra tame. The revs nonetheless held on longer than I’d like, as a result of Ford Performance desires the turbos spooling for lag-free spirited driving. But even on delicate modes, the strain by no means absolutely goes away. I had little alternative however to get used to it. Halfway into my drive, I even turned keen on it.
Next was an extended drive in San Bernardino National Park, winding by way of mountain passes. I absolutely anticipated to coast by way of. But the Bronco Raptor stomped my expectations to mud.
Bronco Raptor Can Handle Twisty Roads
Visually, the Bronco Raptor looks like it will be a killer off-roader and ponderous in every single place else. But look once more: Eager twin-turbo engine, twin exhaust, fine-tuned suspension, stiffer chassis, and a crazy-wide monitor. That all appears like sports activities automobile stuff. And wouldn’t you understand it, this factor is tremendous steady in corners.
The Raptor will level its snout right into a flip and maintain that line similar to a sports activities automobile. Almost like one other horse from the FP steady, the Mustang GT500. It’s onerous to consider, however the Bronco Raptor is extremely enjoyable to drive on twisty roads.
And I didn’t point out this earlier as a result of I wished to name it out particularly: the transmission within the Bronco Raptor is extremely good. It’s the identical ten-speed computerized that is available in different Broncos, however it will get an additional cooler right here.
The transmission isn’t simply exact; it’s prescient. It is aware of what you’re going to do earlier than you do it, and makes certain the engine retains tempo. After I obtained to know the transmission — and after it obtained to know me — I used to be head over heels in love.
Again, it hangs onto gears longer than you’d anticipate in a 4×4 (third and fourth particularly). But while you’re bombing down a again street, the transmission retains you proper within the engine’s candy spot, the place the turbos are spooled and the torque is ever-ready. I’m not ashamed to say it: that ten-speed is aware of higher than me. The paddle shifters are huge and straightforward to succeed in, however I used them sparingly. There was merely no want.
After I’d left San Bernardino, winding down some 5,000 toes of descent, it was largely freeway driving. In tenth gear, the Bronco will cruise at 60 to 80 utterly unfazed, providing a cushty journey over the expressway. The huge tires are surprisingly good right here! I heard zero drone regardless of their 37-inch diameter and aggressive tread.
The drawback on the freeway isn’t the tires — it’s the wind noise. I perceive that individuals love elevating the roof off-road, however it comes on the expense of consolation. At freeway speeds, there’s sufficient noise within the cabin that you simply’ll should crank the stereo to mid-to-high quantity. If there’s no music, or when you and your passenger like to speak, the push of wind is unavoidable, even with the hardtop.
And whereas we’re with reference to consolation, the inside of the Bronco Raptor is simply okay. The seats have thick bolsters and suede-like upholstery. The dashboard is wrapped in marine-grade vinyl. Both the gear selector and steering wheel have thickly-padded leather-based with orange accent stitching. The contact factors are positive!
But the plastics within the middle column really feel like Ford pulled them out of a base mannequin financial system automobile. And Ford in all probability did! I’m guessing this saved fairly a bit, as a result of all of the plastic that drivers gained’t routinely contact feels too pliant, nearly flimsy.
To give Ford the good thing about the doubt, the inside appears weather-resistant and straightforward to scrub. That’s not unreasonable, because the grime actually is the pure habitat for this machine.
Bronco Raptor Off-Road, On Trail
Fans insist the Jeep Wrangler isn’t so nice on the street as a result of it belongs off-road. The Bronco Raptor proves it actually doesn’t should be that approach. The Bronco was already good off-road; the Raptor builds on that, increasing this rig’s prowess. This check took us by way of delicate trails, then a brief and candy rock crawl (the place I obtained caught, twice), and lastly, over an extended, sandy course filled with ruts and washboards the place Ford insisted we must always go quick.
We broke into three packs of Raptors and ventured into Johnson Valley in a staggered formation. Each pack had a lead and chase car, all Bronco Raptors with somebody from Ford Performance on the wheel. We rode on aired-down tires set to 25 psi up entrance, 23 out again. Not as soon as did we cease to air up or down, despite the fact that we tackled a wide range of circumstances.
Mark Lecrone, a car integrations supervisor at Ford Performance who labored on the Mustang GT350, Mustang GT500, F-150 Raptor, and, now, the Bronco Raptor, confirmed me the right way to dial within the settings. “Set it to Sport. Or Baja, if you want,” Mark stated. “Press the R button on the wheel to see your settings.” The settings he was referring to had been steering, exhaust, and suspension. These every have three to 4 choices, that are how the Bronco Raptor goes seamlessly from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.
Mark additionally defined the right way to toggle One-Pedal Driving, which helped on the paths, however harm on the rock crawl. He gave me a crash course on traction that I distilled right into a prayer three phrases lengthy: Rock. Center. Mass.
Mark instructed me to drive over any rock taller than 13 inches. Hit it head on with the tire, he stated, which is just about the alternative of what I might’ve carried out. I might have tried my finest to keep away from huge rocks, and steer us round. But after flipping that change in my head, I had a blast stepping on each single rock or boulder in my path with the Raptor’s BFG boots. I used to be like a child who simply discovered to climb stairs two at a time. Leaps and bounds. Man, I wished to run over rocks all day. Just watch out what you want for.
Bronco Raptor Can Finally Rock Crawl
The first leg of the off-road drive took us over trails that regarded nicely worn, and although we had a couple of shut calls, the pack ran proper by way of. There had been two locations that required a spotter, however they had been nothing main. In these technical spots, the Bronco’s One-Pedal Driving helped quite a bit. This help applies the brakes any time you carry off the throttle, so that you solely should give attention to one pedal. It might help drivers who haven’t mastered the right way to left-foot brake but. In different phrases: Me.
With One-Pedal toggled on and the drive mode set to both Off-Road or Rock-Crawl, even a novice (me once more!) will really feel like an expert. Thanks to a bunch of exterior cameras, the middle display reveals what you’re driving over, together with a trajectory primarily based on the place of the steering wheel. These options make the Bronco Raptor straightforward to off-road, however they’re no substitute for expertise.
At the second path part that known as for a spotter, the Ford Performance guides warned us we had been about to do some actual rock-crawling. I chuckled, pondering it was a joke. It wasn’t. I solely realized the reality as we reached a hill of piled rocks the dimensions of vehicles. Nah, I believed. That’s not potential.
Or whether it is, who must drive over that factor, and why? Pro drivers, for one. There was a minimum of one with us, truly, in her personal road-test Raptor: Shelby Hall, granddaughter of legendary Baja racer Rod Hall and a veteran of the household vocation. I actually didn’t need to attempt to rock-crawl after her! Later, a Ford Performance rep instructed us the hill we had been crawling was a part of the King of the Hammers competitors course. Of course, Hammers racers bomb proper over the hill, reasonably than stopping and beginning at a snail’s tempo like a bunch of journalists.
I wasn’t content material to simply go gradual. No: I went gradual and obtained caught, twice. I’d like responsible the unfamiliar One-Pedal mode, however that’s simply ego. The fact is, I had by no means rock-crawled like this earlier than. I mayn’t fall again on a wealth of expertise; I used to be spurred on by an adrenaline spike.
As I felt my lack of expertise catching up with me, I used to be satisfied I might catch an axle someplace and rip it proper out. Or I’d crush my differential and seaside Ford’s lovely new machine.
The worst that occurred was a couple of scrapes and scratches to the skid plates, which run the size of the Bronco Raptor’s underside. The Raptor even has detachable working boards and bumper finish caps, all of which come off with hand instruments. My Bronco made it out simply positive, even when I was shook. I stored making an attempt to gun it over the rocks! When One-Pedal is on, it’s somewhat onerous to feather the throttle. It doesn’t actually reply till about 20 or 30 % of the pedal journey, and by then it was too late for my heavy foot. Finally, one spotter recommended I attempt left-foot braking.
That smoothed me proper out. I used to be in a position to higher modulate the brake and throttle by treating them like a clutch and throttle. Lift somewhat right here, press a bit extra there. I shortly turned unstuck. I didn’t discover till then that I used to be holding my breath, and I lastly let loose a sigh of reduction.
Bronco Raptor Still Rips on Desert Runs
After my journey on the rocks, I used to be roughly spent. But there was another check: high-speed desert runs. Now, I already knew that bombing over sand at high-speeds is a Raptor specialty, however figuring out isn’t doing. As anticipated, the Bronco Raptor was completely unfazed by deep ruts and free sand. In reality, the quicker you go, the extra sure-footed the Bronco feels.
The stability of the wide-track Raptor goads you into going quicker. Once or twice (possibly thrice), I overcooked it in a nook and felt the rear begin to come round. But even then, it was straightforward to catch and preserve underneath management.
Mark jogged my memory on the course’s beginning line: easy inputs. You need some suspension journey coming right into a nook, he defined. Slamming the brakes will pitch the entrance finish down, lowering the effectiveness of the semi-active dampers.
The transfer is to clean sufficient pace earlier than tapping the brake pedal at turn-in, maintaining the entrance suspension pliant, paradoxically sufficient, so it may well pull on the Bronco’s reigns firmly and preserve it on its line. At most speeds — over asphalt, hard-pack and free sand alike — the Bronco Raptor remained predictable. It gained’t buck off newcomers. And that sort of confidence, that rewarding input-feedback loop, is important.
Of course, I’d be mendacity If I stated I went WOT with reckless abandon. I didn’t. I imply, the Bronco Raptor can transfer, however it’s nonetheless an enormous SUV — a 5,700-pound, 86-inch broad machine that didn’t belong to me, one I wasn’t eager to flip over. The few occasions I opened the throttle was primarily to check stopping energy. Big tires, huge wheels, huge brakes, proper? The Bronco Raptor has 4-piston calipers and 13.8-inch rotors up entrance. The brakes are progressive and agency, however get a bit mushy because the pedal bottoms out.
The dealing with and maneuvering portion of the off-road drive had a collection of brake packing containers: brief rectangular strips marked by cones at 4 corners, inside which we had been speculated to make a whole cease. The packing containers appeared brief to me. I doubted the Bronco Raptor may whoa up contained in the cones. But it did, and it managed to remain steady. I’m speaking about going WOT, in an all-out 60-mph dash, then slamming on the brakes over very free sand. It hit the mark each time.
Ford Bronco Raptor Final Verdict
The Ford Bronco Raptor can nook, deal with trails, and rock-crawl with the most effective of them. It’ll nonetheless run circles over sand at excessive speeds and can cease simply as quick with out getting all squirrely. It now tows extra, and can cruise comfortably on the freeway on 37-inch all-terrain tires.
Earlier, I stated the Bronco Raptor has been a very long time coming. By Ford’s personal account, it’s been journeying towards this since 1966, again when the unique Bronco was launched within the wake of the Mustang’s reputation. Ford claims it wished to make a sports activities automobile for off-roading. Now, I take into account myself proof against carmaker platitudes, however I couldn’t shake that picture. Imagine a Bronco Raptor and Mustang GT500 facet by facet.
The two horses are mainly a dyad expressing an identical — if not the identical — thought. And they each do it with suspension upgrades, a stiffer chassis and a stronger engine. Two sports activities vehicles, for 2 totally different sports activities.
I additionally began off saying the Bronco Raptor was well worth the wait, however didn’t say what it’s price. So, how a lot will it value and when? The 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor will begin at $68,500, not together with the $1,595 supply cost. Ford says it’ll go on sale beginning this summer season, which I suppose means “soon.”
I’m tempted to say it’s an excessive amount of, or that the Bronco Raptor will probably be an rare sight on native roads. But that might make no sense! Even at its value, Ford will promote a number of Bronco Raptors. And given how a lot the Bronco Raptor can do — and do nicely — I believe it’d truly be price it.