2024 Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll New
Just a few years ago, Ford brought back the midsize Ranger pickup after an eight-year hiatus, and for the 2024 model year, the popular truck gets a complete makeover. Moving into its fifth generation, the Ranger gets a fresh look, roomier interior, new technology, and improved capabilities. More importantly, Ford is adding the high-performance Raptor to the Ranger lineup – a first for the U.S. market.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRaptor Arrives
“Ranger Raptor is the high-performance off-road truck so many customers have been begging for. It’s right-sized for tight trails and daily life, can carry lots of gear, and is a blast to drive flat out,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. “Ranger Raptor is fast, comfortable, and packed with top-shelf, purposeful technology that’s designed to perform. This is the baddest Ranger we’ve ever made.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Look
All 2024 Ford Rangers come as a 4-door crew cab with a five-foot bed. While still recognizable as a Ranger, the new version gets updated styling that takes elements from the best-selling full-size F-150 as well as the compact Maverick to give the midsize truck a bold new look. Each trim level gets a slightly different design treatment, but all Rangers sport the signature C-Clamp headlights and a wide grille with a large Ford logo in the center. The Ranger Raptor gets styling that further differentiates it from the rest of the lineup – more on that later.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUpdated Chassis
The 2024 Ford Ranger is about the same length as the outgoing version, but the truck is wider with a longer wheelbase, which puts the wheels closer to the corners. These new dimensions give the new Ranger a bolder look and provide better off-road capabilities with an improved approach angle.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStep Up
Ford added an integrated side step on either side of the 2024 Ranger, located behind the rear tire, for an easy way to reach into the bed. The steps are large enough for someone to stand on with both feet, and the step can handle up to 300 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBed Utility
Adding to the Ranger’s utility is its wider bed that now measures four feet between the wheel wells. With this much space, the Ranger can haul a full sheet of plywood flat on the bed floor. The Ranger also gets a 400-watt inverter with a standard household outlet in the bed to power accessories — a convenient feature on the job site or while camping.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The Ford Ranger is offered as an XL, XLT, Lariat, and Raptor. Except for Raptor, which comes standard with four-wheel drive, all other Rangers come standard as rear-wheel drive with four-wheel drive available. An XL 2WD starts at $34,265 (including the $1,595 destination charge), while at the other end of the lineup, the Raptor has a base price of $57,065.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThe Raptor Family
Ford launched the Raptor name fifteen years ago with a Trophy Truck-inspired F-150 built for tackling off-road conditions at high speed. Ford added the Bronco Raptor a few years ago, and now Ranger takes on the Raptor name. More than simply the top-level trim of the Ranger lineup — this truck is something special, and its styling helps differentiate it from the standard Rangers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnique Raptor Styling
While it gets the same LED headlight treatment, the wide grille features FORD spelled out in large letters, matching the style of Ford’s other Raptor models. A high-strength steel skidplate draws the eye below the grille, and additional plates protect the fuel tank, transfer case, and engine from being damaged during extreme off-road adventures. There are also two hooks front and rear, and cast-aluminum running boards allow easy entry and exit.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRaptor Off-Road Setup
Like the other members of the Raptor family, the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor is set up for proper off-road performance, whether climbing over rocks or tearing down a dirt track at high speed. An advanced 4-wheel-drive system is standard, with an electronically controlled 2-speed transfer case as well as front and rear locking differentials. Ground clearance of the Raptor is slightly higher than the standard Ranger 4×4 at 10.7 inches. This special truck also gets a purpose-built off-road suspension with 2.5-inch FOX live valve shocks and a long-travel rear suspension. Reinforced front frame rails and other upgrades to the chassis help the Ranger Raptor handle off-road conditions at speed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
The standard powerplant in the 2024 Ford Ranger (except Raptor) is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that carries over from the previous generation, producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. New for 2024 is a more powerful engine option — a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 generating 315 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Both are teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRaptor Power
Not only does the Raptor stand out with aggressive styling and off-road capability, but it also gets power to match. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that puts out 405 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. This powerful engine is the same unit that’s in the Bronco Raptor, although engineers specifically tuned it for the 2024 Ranger.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFuel Economy
According to the EPA, the Ford Ranger 2WD with the base 2.3-liter engine is rated at 21 mpg city / 25 mpg hwy / 22 mpg combined. Fuel economy drops by just one mpg with the four-wheel driver version. The new 2.7-liter engine gets 19 / 23 / 20, respectively, and the more powerful Raptor comes in at 16 / 18 / 17 mpg.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing
Depending on the configuration, the standard Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds with either engine. Unfortunately, the Raptor may be more powerful but heavier, so its towing capacity is a bit less at 5,510 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTow Assist
Ford offers the Ranger with Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Trailer Reverse Guidance, providing multiple camera views around a trailer to make maneuvering much easier. Ranger also gets an integrated trailer brake — a necessity when towing larger, heavier trailers. We tested out this system in the Ranger, and it makes reversing a trailer much easier. When engaged, camera views can show both sides of the trailer, while a dial in the center console is used for steering – turn the dial left, and the trailer goes left while the steering wheel moves on its own.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
As part of the redesign for the 2024 model year, the Ranger gets a new interior design centered around a standard 10.1-inch vertical touchscreen display with the option of a larger 12-inch screen. An 8-inch or 12.4-inch driver display adds a high-tech vibe to the Ranger’s cabin. Premium materials with soft-touch points and stylish vents elevate the truck’s cabin from the typical work truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCustom Raptor Interior
The Raptor’s interior is just as exciting as its exterior treatment. Up front, sport seats courtesy of Ford Performance look good trimmed in Ebony leather with RAPTOR embossed on the seat back. Extra bolstering helps to keep the driver and passenger in place during off-road jaunts. Code Orange accents are located throughout the cabin, including the seats, steering wheel, and vent surrounds. Paddle shifters are made from cast magnesium alloy.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGood Storage
The Ranger’s cabin has plenty of space for storing small items. There’s a large center console bin under the armrest, an upper and lower glovebox, and a convenient shelf for the front passenger. The Ranger also has an available wireless phone charger ahead of the transmission shifter.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInfotainment
The vertical touchscreen in the Ranger runs Ford’s SYNC 4A infotainment system, one of the most intuitive on the market. The large font and clear display make it easy to navigate through the menus, and shortcuts to the home screen, as well as the complete list of applications, are easily found at the top left corner of the display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard with a wireless connection.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seats
With increased legroom compared to the outgoing model, the Ranger’s rear seats offer good support with plenty of legroom and headroom. A household power outlet and dual USB ports provide power to rear-seat occupants. Two storage bins conveniently located under the rear seat keep items out of sight for increased security. The rear seatback can also be folded down to create a flat surface for loading larger items that need to ride in the cab instead of the truck bed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Ford invited us to Salt Lake City, Utah, to spend time behind the wheel of the new Ranger. Heading up to the Solitude Mountain Resort in the Ranger XLT with the standard 2.3-liter engine, we found the truck performed quite well. Acceleration was surprisingly strong, and the truck had no problem cruising up the steep road to the ski resort. The truck feels more refined than the outgoing version, and the ride was quiet and comfortable. The Ranger is certainly a truck that would work as a daily driver.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriving the Raptor
Following our time with the standard Ranger, Ford handed us the keys to a Ranger Raptor at the Ford Performance Racing School in Tooele, Utah, and we tested the truck out on the paved roads that would eventually take us to our off-road adventure. Even with its off-road tires and suspension, the Raptor delivered a smooth, solid ride on the road, with plenty of power on tap. Setting the adaptive cruise control set, settling into the leather-trimmed seats, and playing tunes on the premium Bang & Olufsen audio system, we found the Raptor doesn’t sacrifice its everyday usability for its off-road capabilities.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff-Road School
Our destination in the Ranger Raptor was Ford’s new Ranger Raptor Assault School, a facility designed to showcase the impressive abilities of this new off-road pickup. “Our goal is for owners, whether novices or off-road veterans, to experience the full capability of Ranger Raptor and get a true understanding of the passion and attention to detail that Ford engineers put into developing it,” said Will Ford, Ford Performance general manager. New Ranger Raptor owners are invited to spend a day at the school – the cost of admission is included in the purchase of a new Ranger Raptor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePerforms Like a Raptor
After donning helmets for safety, we headed out on one of the several handling courses at the Assault school that features sweeping turns, sharp corners, and multiple elevation changes. Full throttle from a stop spins all four tires as the truck launches in a perfectly controlled fashion. With a powerful exhaust roar, the Raptor quickly found grip, and as we pushed the truck into the loose-surface turns, it remained stable and predictable, delivering an exciting but confident ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInto the Air
Showcasing the quick acceleration and excellent suspension, Ford set us up to launch the Raptor off of a jump. Staged at the base of a hill, we stabbed the throttle and accelerated up the steep incline. Cresting the hill, the Ranger took flight, rising a foot or so off the ground, then landing smoothly and still in complete control. We can’t say how often launching the truck into the air may occur in a typical drive, but it’s nice to know the Raptor is capable. Plus, it was loads of fun.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceClimbing Mountains
Heading up a challenging mountain path with steep inclines, large rocks, and loose surfaces, we locked both front and rear differentials—easily done via the off-road display—and the Raptor handled the rugged terrain with no problem. While the truck was perfectly capable of tackling these conditions, it was a bit rougher on the passengers. The ride was not smooth, and we were banged around quite a bit as we traversed the uneven terrain.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
The Ford Ranger was a good midsize truck before, and with the updated designs, roomier interior, and new features, it is even better than before. The truck provides plenty of utility with innovative storage, cargo, and towing features, and with a comfortable, solid ride, the Ranger works well as a daily driver. All of these attributes also hold for the Ranger Raptor, and with this new range-topping truck, you also get a powerful engine and exceptional off-road performance. The midsize pickup truck segment competition is tough, but the 2024 Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor have set the bar high.

The post 2024 Ford Ranger and Ranger Raptor: First Drive Review appeared first on autoNXT.net.

More from Our Auto Expert