2023 Ford Ranger Raptor: Smaller than the F-150 but No Less Fun

Ford's never-actualized goal of crafting a "world car" that would excel in all global markets came to an end with the discontinuation of the Fiesta and Focus in the U.S. Perhaps Ford should have focused on creating a "world truck" instead—a niche which the Ranger seems to have achieved. The Ranger is sold across 180 countries; moreover, the outgoing version was Europe's most popular pickup. We had our first experience with the hotly anticipated new Ranger Raptor in Europe as well.

The Euro version shares many features with the ranger Raptor that will be seen in the United States next year. These include same styling as well as the innovative suspension system featuring internal-bypass dampers created by Fox Racing. The main difference between Rangers sold in Europe and those produced for US soil, is that the engine of the latter will be much more powerful.

European emissions standards are much higher than Australia's, so the Ranger Raptor's engine had to be detuned significantly. The original twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 in Australia produced 392 horsepower and 430 pound-feet, but the European version will only have 288 horsepower and 362 pound-feet.

Although we do not have information regarding the specifications for the United States version of the Raptor, it seems safe to say that it will boast at least as much power as its Australian counterpart. The Bronco Raptor boasts 418 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, so these could potentially be the specs for our Raptor as well. Additionally, all markets will come standard with a 10-speed automatic gearbox with a two-speed transfer case along with locking front and rear differentials.

The new Ranger's metalwork is on the T6 platform, and the Raptor uses a stronger version of that ladder chassis. If you looked at it from the front, you would think it was a mini F-150 with its LED headlights pushed to the edge of the bodywork and an all-caps FORD grille motif that stands out.

It also includes plastic wheel-arch extensions and a broader track, similar to the F-150. Although it is still large by European standards, the Ranger Raptor's 211.0-inch overall length and 79.8-inch width make it 21.6 inches shorter than the F-150 version and 7.0 inches narrower. The standard configuration in Europe is a crew cab with 61.6 inch cargo beding..

Additionally, microfiber panels and colored accents in the cabin make the Raptor's design more sophisticated than that of the regular Ranger. However, hard plastics are still predominant. The 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and central touchscreen looked good overall. Ford's SYNC 4A infotainment system is easy to use and navigate; however, we were pleased to see that some physical controls for heating and ventilation were retained .

The Raptor's center console has a stubby shifter with a button that, when engaged, switches to manual mode. To shift manually, press the paddles on the steering wheel. A rotary dial selects drive modes and controls the transfer case, which has these settings: 2H (two-wheel drive high range), 4H (four-wheel drive high range), 4L (four-wheel drive low range), and 4A (automatically sends power to front axle when required).

The car felt very smooth on the roads, especially considering it was wearing Continental General Grabber A/T tires. The Fox Racing shock absorbers change the amount of force used to absorb shocks depending on both wheel travel and an adaptive valve, so the ride is comfortable even at low speeds. It was also unexpectedly quiet inside the cabin at highway speeds in Normal mode.