We’ve crawled over the new Ford Ranger Raptor and driven an engineering test vehicle. While we wait for the embargo to lift on initial driving impressions, here is our wish list of upgrades.
Ford engineers are putting the finishing touches on the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor – now with twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol power – ahead of showroom arrivals mid year.
And Drive was among a group of media given an early preview of the new model during some final engineering validation work.
While initial drive impressions are under embargo – and the launch of showroom-ready vehicles is still months away – we were able to learn a lot after crawling over the new Ford Ranger Raptor.
As impressive as it is, no car is perfect – and Ford has already starting working on running changes throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle.
So here is our wish list of changes – some big, some small – we’d love to see on future versions.
The new Ford Ranger Raptor is shaping up to be an epic vehicle but, as the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement.
There’s now room for three versions of the Raptor, in our opinion.
As we reported last week, Ford is considering a Raptor RS with road rubber.
In our experience with the superseded Ford Ranger Raptor and Ford Ranger FX4 Max, the BF Goodrich KO3 all-terrain tyres are great off-road but slippery on wet sealed roads.
There’s an easy win here. Better tyres would improve on-road handling and shorten braking distances, wet or dry.
With 0 to 100km/h performance said to be in the sub-6 second range, we’re betting the Ford Ranger Raptor would benefit from more on-road grip.
There is also room for a Raptor HD (for heavy duty) in our opinion.
This would be, in effect, today’s Ford Ranger FX4 Max but with a new name.
If we had our way, the Ford Raptor HD would come with the turbo diesel V6, Fox shocks, BF Goodrich KO2 tyres, and F-O-R-D grille – but a leaf spring rear suspension set-up for 3.5-tonne towing.
The towing is important because we know countless Ford Ranger owners who would love to buy a Raptor but need 3.5-tonne towing.
As it stands, the Raptor is limited to a still-generous 2.5-tonne capacity towing due to its epic Fox shocks.
We reckon there is room for both variants.
Ford would need to decide whether to include Raptor seats, the front bar, and the front and rear tow hooks. But we would vote in favour of this.
Using the TDV6, the Raptor HD would also have space under the bonnet for a second battery (the turbo petrol V6 Raptor does not have this option due to the larger air box), and the possibility to fit the optional, diesel-ready, ARB long-range fuel tank.
The Raptor HD could also be equipped with the rails with sliding tie-down points in the ute tub, and the step wedges in the rear fenders (they’re absent on the twin-turbo V6 petrol Raptor to make way for the dual exhaust system).
Protectors of the Raptor name would say not to use the Raptor badge on a Raptor HD.
But the current Ford Ranger FX4 Max is already part Raptor thanks to F-O-R-D grille, Fox shocks and BF Goodrich tyres.
Having just done 6000km in a current Ford Ranger FX4 Max, it already has Raptor qualities.
We reckon it would not hurt the pinnacle Raptor model at all by sharing the name. On the current Ford Ranger FX4 Max, Ford already shares the key ingredients.
If we had a magic wand the twin-turbo V6 petrol Ford Ranger Raptor would be called simply Raptor, Raptor X, or Raptor Baja.
Then the other models could be called Raptor RS and Raptor HD.
Hash tag, you’re welcome.
Reminder: these are our ideas only, not Ford’s future plans.
Our other suggestions below are more niche but, hey, we sweat the details.
Ford quietly ditched extendable sun visors on the runout Ford Ranger about a year ago in the hope we wouldn’t notice they’re missing on the new one.
But we loved this feature, which was especially helpful at blocking side glare on sunrise and sunset.
Four one-touch ‘express’ power windows
This might seem like a small issue but it’s a level of detail that is standard in the Toyota HiLux and Volkswagen Amarok.
All four windows in those utes have one-touch auto-up function; in the new Ford Ranger only the driver window has this functionality.
The pressure switches are a few cents per car. C’mon guys…
Bonnet struts versus a bonnet post
Despite the new Ford Ranger Raptor costing $10,000 more than the original – and $6100 more than the current model – Ford has deleted gas struts for the bonnet.
An old-school metal post was used to keep the bonnet open on the engineering sample cars.
Anyone wanting to show off the new engine will need to have strong arms, to hold the bonnet up to get the post in place.
On that note, buyers really will be able to show-off the new engine, because it’s naked under the bonnet.
There is no plastic cover, just lots of pipes and clamps.
One of the biggest criticisms of the outgoing Ford Ranger is its weak headlights.
Ford made running changes to the XLT, Wildtrak, and Raptor lamps about 18 months ago but they still weren’t brilliant.
Ford promises the new models have excellent lighting; the Raptor gains “matrix” bi-LEDs which are said to turn night into day.
But we reckon there is still room for an official, Ford-backed LED light bar strip to go across the front of the new Ford Ranger Raptor. Pretty please?
Given we expect the new twin-turbo V6 petrol engine to be a thirsty beast, could Ford please talk to ARB about developing a long range tank compatible with unleaded petrol?
The long range tanks due to be ready at launch were developed for diesel models only. Please and thank you.
All-weather seat covers, deep dish rubber floor mats
We would love Ford to offer factory-backed, airbag-compatible, canvass-style seat covers that are hard-wearing and can handle a bit of mud.
Buyers presumably don’t want to mess up their interior after a weekend away.
While we’re at it, we’d love Ford to develop clip-in high-sided, deep-dish, rubber floor mats to catch water, sand and mud.
Otherwise, we’re off to Supercheap to buy those one-size-fits-all rubber mats that move around under your feet.
The new Ford Ranger has a handy cubby for large smartphones, which doubles as a wireless charging pad.
But it’s a tight fit for large smartphones when equipped with heavy-duty waterproof cases.
Please, Ford interior designers. Please take into consideration large phones with bulky cases when measuring up the next interior.
Many Ranger owners have phones with cumbersome waterproof cases so the devices are protected on job sites, when camping, or out on a boat.
Please allow more room when you’re next working on that part of the interior.
Certain models in the new Ford Ranger line-up are equipped with rails in the ute tub with adjustable tie-down points.
It’s an idea that appears to have been inspired by the Nissan Navara.
Regardless of who came up with the idea, it’s genius.
But please make this clever tie-down solution available on the new Ford Ranger Raptor.
Some customers really do put some stuff in the back. Sometimes.