Well, that escalated quickly. Rewind just two years ago and the Jeep Wrangler ruled the off-road scene, with the Ford Bronco just an object of endless anticipation. A year later, the Wrangler finally had some real competition in the form of the Bronco and the six different levels of off-road misconduct. The Wildtrak had a brief reign as the ultimate Bronco and now Ford is finally building the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor.
Ford first applied the Raptor treatment to the F-150 pickup in 2009 when it discovered that there was a surprisingly huge appetite for a wide-body pre-runner pickup – as it turns out, the suspension can be brilliant. Now the Raptor quality desert high-speed ability and the talents of scraping the frames have been applied to a vehicle whose roof and doors are removable, in which we say: Take our money.
Starting at $ 70,095, the only four-door Bronco Raptor is not cheap. But Ford did not just spare parts for the existing Sasquatch package and called it good. Blue Oval started from the ground up, literally. To create the Raptor, Ford started with huge 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain K02 tires, cylinders large enough to serve as floats. Almost every suspension has been enhanced over the smaller Broncos, including the electronically controlled Fox Live Valve 3.1 shock absorbers with three adjustment settings. The rear units are unique to the Bronco, with external tanks displaced from the shock absorber body to ensure clearance as the wheels travel through their vertical motion. The upper control arms have a strange U-shape to avoid contact with the body base when compressed. The result is a long wheelbase of 13.0 inches at the front and 14.0 inches at the rear — 4.3 inches and 3.6 inches more than the Sasquatch, respectively.
To fit the Fox stilts from below, the Raptor requires higher top damper bases. Due to the torsional forces created by the raised mounting positions, the front of the frame has been reinforced internally to withstand the loads. An additional cross member at the front and a carbon bow tie at the back of the roll cage increase body rigidity by 50 percent. And because the spare tire weighs 100 pounds north and the Raptors are built to fly, the spare tire carrier has been strengthened.
Even on the opposite side of a dry lake, there is no doubt about the perimeter of the Bronco Raptor. The axles are not only stronger but as wide as the Devil’s Gulch. Extremely large wing flares are tragic due to the need to facilitate the width of the 73.2 and 73.6 inches front and rear track — more than six inches wider than a Sasquatch. If only Ford had incorporated some of the design elements of the Bronco DR racing stroller with its built-in wings, we would have been more vocal about it.
Our ride took us to Johnson Valley in the stormy Southern California desert, home of the brutal King of Hammers off-road racing and the location where Ford did most of the Bronco Raptor development. This playground with dry lakes and grooved rails is top real estate to take advantage of the dual turbocharged V-6 of 3.0 liters of 418 hp and 440 lb-ft of rotation. For proper high-speed desert pounding, use the GOAT selector on the center console to call up the Baja function on the new 12.0-inch digital instrument panel. There is a new R button on the steering wheel for quick access to the personalized mode – which we configured with the dampers ready for attack and the adjustable exhaust as much as possible – although you can also choose from the four preset configurations (Quiet, Normal and Sport, except from Baja).
Running fast on uneven ground, we reflexively continue to pull the upcoming bumps — a ditch follows! —Only to find that the Fox dampers repel bumps that could crush stops in other four-on-four productions. Any Jeep Wrangler, regardless of the investment, will surely launch its passengers to the moon at this rate. With the Baja function activated, the twin-turbo V-6 activates the anti-lag function of the turbochargers and there is a negligible delay in power supply during the fast on / off throttle routine common in desert running. And torque interruption is zero when you use the gearshift to call up manual shifting from the 10-speed automatic.
But King of the Hammers is not all about high-speed projects, which is why it is so challenging – sliding rock and wide open ripping are opposing branches with distinct requirements. The winding paths that lead to the peaks that surround Johnson Valley are full of boulders, where most of YouTube’s epic mistakes occur. But with the big 37s and suspension, the Bronco Raptor is 13.1 inches off the ground, 1.6 inches longer than a Sasquatch. A layer of armor protects vital elements and even the fancy muffler has welded loops to protect its shell. Unsurprisingly, the approach, burglary and departure angles go beyond all those of a Sasquatch or even a Jeep Wrangler equipped with the Extreme Recon package.
With 4.70: 1 gears on the Dana axles and a 67.9: 1 crawl ratio, there is plenty of low-level thrust to lift the Raptor over the boulders that fill the path. The Bronco quickly processes the intense rock shelves of the valley, obstacles that would likely cause damage to the body of most other production vehicles. Ford makes it easy to hit the boulders, including the Rock Crawl feature, which puts the two-speed low-slip carrying case, locks the rear differential and disengages the front anti-roll bar. The front axle can also be locked at the touch of a button. If the Raptor-specific headlights point to the sky and the ground in front remains unknown, the power of the front camera is clearly rendered on the 12.0-inch infotainment screen, acting as a digital locator. And before you go about breaking the deadlock, know that they can be detached from the rock slides that protect rocker panels. For those who want to get real nuts, the outer edges of the bulky front bumper can be removed.
But there is more to the Raptor than just off-road talent – to get to this trail you will probably need to cross a sidewalk. Our driveway consisted of winding roads that split the Santa Rosa Mountains, a picturesque but comical location to dive into an 85.7-inch-wide brick that weighs about 5,800 pounds. But on the road, the Bronco Raptor is a perfectly viable engine. Push it hard into a corner — the calipers grab the rotors upside down, the nose sinks and the tip of the tail wants to take the lead, but it’s a perfectly coordinated exercise. There is expected wind noise from the removable top, but this is the case with all Broncos (and hence Wranglers). As with the F-150 Raptor, the ride quality is excellent for a platform that focuses on spending its life on the ground.
As expected, the fuel economy is abysmal, with an EPA rating of 15 mpg combined (15 city / 16 motorway). For those looking for single digits, the Bronco Raptor is equipped with a towing / transfer function and has a rating of 4500 pounds. While the smaller Broncos have their muffler warmed up by the rear bumper, the Raptor has been repositioned in front of the rear axle. The move allowed Ford to install more towbar brackets, giving it a 1000-pound towing advantage.
So yes, the absolute Bronco is predictably exaggerated. Except under the hood, where this 3.0-liter V-6 looks like the only place where Ford pulled a punch – what, the 3.5-liter F-150 Raptor would not fit? But as Wildtrak was not the last reason for the Bronco’s performance, we suspect the Raptor may not be the same either. With the F-150 Raptor R on the horizon and Jeep selling a 470-horsepower Wrangler, it makes sense for the Bronco to have room for at least one more upgrade. The Bronco Raptor, meanwhile, holds the title of the worst Bronco ever built.
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