Raptor Tops Fully Redesigned 2024 Ford Ranger Lineup
Despite improvements across the Ranger lineup, Ford’s best engineering tech and experience show in the desert-ready, go-fast Raptor.
When Ford first reintroduced the Ranger to North America in 2019, it was welcomed largely because of its revered nameplate. But outside of a lauded 2.3-L four-cylinder turbo engine and an impressive array of options, there wasn’t much to write home about. And critics downgraded the lineup for a spartan interior and having a ride that bounced passengers around.
Ford says it built the 2024 Ranger lineup with that feedback in mind. And, for the enthusiast crowd, the yearned-for Ranger Raptor makes its loud debut with a 405-hp engine.
If a first look at the new Ranger makes you say, “it looks bigger,” that’s because it is. Sort of. Despite the overall length and width staying virtually the same, the wheelbase and track are two inches longer and wider, at 128.7 inches (326.9 cm) and 63.8 inches (162 cm) respectively.
Keeping the overall dimensions the same was important, said Juan De Peña, chief engineer for North America. “It looks tough, it looks planted, but it still fits in a garage,” he said. He added that pushing the wheels forward also gives an improved approach angle of 29.2 degrees and the wider track improves stability but also allows for more wheel articulation in off-road situations. Unlike the incumbent Ranger that’s available in SuperCab (with 6-ft/182.9-cm bed) and SuperCrew (with 5-ft/152.4-cm bed) configurations, the new truck only comes in SuperCrew form with a 59.6-inch (151.4 cm) bed in either two- or four-wheel-drive.
The body of the truck itself looks tougher due to a combination of factors, said Nima Nourian, the Ranger’s exterior design manager. Among them are a hood that has two wide, raised ridges on either side, more technical surfaces such as a long inward-sculpted line along the side, and a newer, wider-appearing, aggressive grille framed by Ford’s signature c-clamp headlights. That larger hood, combined with the new hydroformed front end of the frame, made room for the wider variety of engines available.
De Peña said a mix of metals were used for the body to achieve a balance of light weight and cost: The fenders, hood and tailgate (which doubles as a workbench, ruler included) are aluminum. Doors and other panels are steel.
The XL and XLT ride on 17-inch wheels that are dark gray on XLT. The Lariat has the largest wheel of the lineup at 18 inches. Nourian said the molded inserts on each wheel house don’t just protect the sheet metal, but “make the truck seem more capable by simultaneously visually increasing the interest in the area but also “reducing the mass above the wheels, which cleans up the silhouette.” Two new useful features: The increased track width now allows a 4-foot (1.2 meter) sheet of plywood to be placed flat in the bed between the wheel wells, and a side step for accessing the bed that’s integrated to the frame. Nourian said that prevents people from having to lever up on top of the relatively tall tires. It’s made for both feet at once and can hold up to 300 lb (136 kg). Though none of the models at the preview event (except the Raptor) had side steps, Nourian said they are an option throughout the lineup.
Powertrain choices, handling improvements
The base engine is Ford’s workhorse 2.3-L EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that generates 270 hp (201 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm). Available late in the 2024 model year will be a 2.7-L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 that will deliver 315 hp (234 kW) and 400 lb-ft (542 Nm). All engines are mated to the Ford 10-speed automatic Selectshift transmission with available electronic shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-drive. Mileage estimates were not available.
Engineers said that despite the Ranger’s suspension being unchanged, the tuning should make for an improved ride both on- and off-road. The front is independently suspended with a short- and long-arm setup and stabilizer bar, while the rear rides on a Hotchkiss-type live axle, leaf springs and shock absorbers that are mounted outside of the frame.
The base engine has a maximum towing capacity rated at 5,510 lb (2,499 kg) with a 1,411-lb (640 kg) maximum payload. The optional engine can tow 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) and carry a 1,805-lb (818 kg) payload.
The overall interior materials have been improved over the previous generation. Nourian said that the higher the interior trim level, the more soft materials were used, such as at the top of door trims and anywhere a driver or passenger would regularly touch.
The instrument panel has been pushed wide and holds a main instrument cluster of 8 inches (20.3 cm), with an optional 12.1-inch (30.7 cm) cluster. Bucking some design trends, the portrait-aspect infotainment touchscreen, which ranges from 10.1 inches (25.7 cm) in XL and XLT trips to a 12-inch screen that’s available in the Lariat and standard on Raptor, is integrated into the center stack. Paul Cassar, product marketing manager, said that research indicated that customers strongly prefer that setup to those that “float,” such as in Mercedes and Audi vehicles. “It operates just like a tablet or iPad that customers are used to,” he said. The Sync 4 system also pairs wirelessly with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The rear seats fold flat, which Ford says is a class first, and have storage underneath. Cassar said Ranger’s newly available 360-degree camera is a class exclusive. “It allows the driver to toggle in between views of the front, sides and rear. And the system actually pairs all of the cameras together to give you a top-down view so you can see everything around you,” he said. “This will not only be valuable for our customers in a parking lot or in a tight garage, but also when they're at a campsite or when they venture off road.”
One more item customers preferred: The Ranger’s 10-speed transmission is operated by a lever rather than a rotary shifter. It’s from this shifter that drivers trigger Active Park Assist 2.0, which guides drivers in parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers.
Raptor ready to fly
Ford executives said the North American enthusiast market has been pining for Ford Performance’s most famous truck family, and the 2024 Ranger Raptor is here to make folks forget about the previous generation’s top-of-the-line Tremor.
It is powered by a 3.0-L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 that generates 405 hp (302 kW) and 430 lb-ft (583 Nm). It’s paired with a 10-speed transmission with an electronically controlled, on-demand two-speed transfer case and front and rear locking differentials.
Ford Performance Chief Engineer Carl Widmann said a lot of work was done to maximize air induction on the engine, which was codeveloped for the Bronco Raptor. “We spent a lot of time doing the analytics to get a free-flowing air induction system and [turbocharger] cooling system, really dropping all those losses in the air inlets just a little bit different on the Ranger due to the architecture of the hood,” he said. The engine is set up to deliver 90% of its peak horsepower at redline “so that it’s you holding it back, not the engine.”
The engine, which has a graphite-iron cylinder block, uses a unique anti-turbo-lag system when in Baja mode. It keeps the twin turbos spinning for up to three seconds after throttle tip-out so maximum acceleration is possible when exiting corners.
The true dual exhaust is, as on other Raptors, tunable, with an off-road only Baja mode that rumbles bystanders’ bones all the way to a Quiet mode “so you can start it up at 2 a.m. without waking the neighbors,” Widmann said. Also included are Normal and Sport settings.
Algorithms key to suspension
Raptor engineers readied the frame for tough punishment by reinforcing the front rails, front shock towers, rear shock brackets and suspension mounting points, among other areas. The Ranger Raptor’s suspension comprises lightweight aluminum upper and lower control arms and a long-travel rear suspension with a Watts linkage and trailing arms to maintain control when driving off-road. Fox 2.5-inch (6.4 cm) live valve internal bypass shocks (coilovers at the front and piggyback reservoirs out back) are filled with Teflon-infused oil to reduce friction and heat-buildup for all-day performance. Widmann said that’s just where the suspension starts. What sets Raptor apart is its electronic on-the-fly suspension tuning. “All the algorithms we use are Ford Performance proprietary, so we control the dampers from a Fox live-valve system, but we use the same controller logic that’s learned from what we do on a Bronco or an F-150 Raptor. So the reaction time of that damping system and how we can sense terrain and predict terrain becomes critical in this application where it has got a narrower vehicle with a lot of power for its size. So you really want that nimble character.” The Raptor’s ground clearance is 10.7 inches (27.1 cm), compared with 9.3 inches (23.6 cm) in the standard 4x2 and 10.4 inches (26.4 cm) in the standard 4x4 Ranger.
Raptor allows a driver to select from seven drive modes: Normal, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery, Off-Road, Rock Crawl and Baja. The modes control the entire powertrain, from engine and transmission to ABS calibration, traction control, steering and throttle response.
Looks like a Raptor
Of course, a major draw for Raptor buyers is the truck’s ready-for-anything looks. Ranger Raptor has the family’s signature grille treatment with oversized “FORD” lettering above an all-steel bumper with integrated frame-mounted tow hooks. Ford’s signature c-clamp headlights are echoed in the rear by c-shaped LED taillights. Ultra aggressive fender flares with functional vents call attention to the Raptor’s 33-inch BFGoodrich KO3 tires mounted on the 17-inch wheels. Optional beadlock wheels are available for running low tire pressures in sand and rocks. The underbody is protected by a high-strength steel front bash plate and shields for the engine, transfer case and fuel tank. On the inside, Ranger Raptor gets a unique steering wheel with cast magnesium paddle shifters. Overhead switches provide easy access to off-road hardware, and Ford Performance seats have extra bolstering. The entire cab is trimmed in orange.
Ranger pricing starts at $34,160, while the Raptor starts at $56,960. Prices include destination and delivery charges. Ford will begin taking orders later this spring.
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