The hardcore new Ford Bronco Raptor introduces a raft of off-road-focused upgrades to the firm’s reborn SUV to make it “capable of highway-speed desert-dune conquering and Baja rock-crawling”.
Like the standard Bronco, it remains a US-only proposition for now, but is similar in its positioning and claimed capabilities to the European-spec Raptor version of the Ranger pick up.
It is the third entry into Ford’s revived Bronco model line, following the road-focused Sport and full-sized standard Bronco which launched last year, and the third Raptor model after the range-topping versions of the Ranger and F-150.
Its off-road ambitions are immediately evident courtesy of its substantial protective body kit, tow hooks, chunky under-body bash plates, 8.6in-wider track and 4.8in ride height increase – courtesy of uprated off-road suspension and 37in all-terrain tyres, which Ford says are the largest fitted to any American production SUV.
Like its Jeep Wrangler Rubicon rival, the Bronco Raptor’s doors and roof can be removed for an open-air driving experience.
But the Raptor package extends far beyond aesthetic upgrades. The shock towers have been re-engineered to increase wheel travel (by 60% at the front and 40% at the rear), the B- and C-pillars have been strengthened to boost body rigidity, there are larger driveshafts which can withstand higher torque output and even an uprated clutch “designed to withstand the demands of high-performance desert events”.
Not only that, but the Bronco Raptor gets a bespoke twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 pumping out more than 400bhp – which makes it the most powerful road-legal Bronco model yet. It is paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox and breathes through a bespoke exhaust system designed specifically to improve the engine note. Ford has yet to confirm performance details.
There are seven drive modes included as part of Ford’s GOAT (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) terrain management system, including a new Baja Mode which minimises turbo lag to optimise high-speed performance across the desert, and a Tow/Haul mode which ups towing capacity to more than 2000kg.
Ford has yet to confirm Raptor pricing ahead of orders opening in March, but says most examples sold this year will go to existing reservation holders. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in summer.