When the previous generation Ford Ranger Raptor burst onto the scene in 2019, I was underwhelmed.
Sure, it had anabolic arches that excited my inner child no end and was capable of traversing an Iraqi warzone without breaking a sweat, however, it was powered by such a pathetic excuse for an engine—a feeble 2.0-litre Biturbo diesel—that it was hard to take seriously. It was like finding out that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Herculean body was nothing more than a bodysuit and that the person beneath was a scrawny toothpick of a man.
For the new car, though, Ford gave the Ranger Raptor the engine it deserved: a snorting 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 with anti-lag that produces 292kW (397PS) and makes a noise like a wild boar that's stepped on a bear trap. And while the engine is mighty, it doesn’t overshadow the rest of the Raptor package.
The Raptor comes with a slick automatic transmission with more gears than a mountain bike (10!); the chassis has been strengthened compared to the peasant-spec, non-Raptor Ranger, and can withstand a direct hit from a meteor strike (probably); and it has a trick suspension system that’s so far beyond the realm of any other ute on the market that I suspect it would boggle the boffins at NASA.
Oh, and it looks utterly brilliant.
As a ute, it’s hopeless. It’s expensive ($85,490 before on-road costs), will struggle to fit in a McDonald’s drive-through without puncturing a tyre, and can barely tow a six-pack (2500kg tow limit). And yet it matters not.
I have no need for a 292kW twin-turbocharged V6, DAKAR-ready super ute. But boy, oh boy, do I want one. And that’s why it’s my car of the year.