With 3.5 turns lock to lock, the steering rack that lends the Ranger Raptor such impressive accuracy when clambering over rocks and boulders also makes for rather slow responses out on the road.

Geared as such, directional changes require a bit more effort from the driver and this extra exertion serves as one of the starker reminders that you’re driving a jacked-up pick-up truck as opposed to a conventional SUV. That said, the process of actually getting the Ranger Raptor to change direction isn’t a particularly exhausting one.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
The ease with which the Raptor deals with being dropped from fairly significant heights is astounding. Never has jumping a car at quite serious speeds felt so right.

The steering itself is reasonably light and its response is linear enough so as not to sap confidence. There’s a half-decent sense of feel there, too, and body roll is sufficiently smartly checked that handling feels quite precise at a brisk pace.

The combined effect of all this is that, despite its size, the big Ford is reasonably easy to place on the road and doesn’t feel overly intimidating to drive. Granted, you’re still aware of its vast size on narrower roads, but the knowledge that you can mount almost any kerb or verge to make way for oncoming traffic is reassuring.

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For all the traction those chunky BF Goodrich tyres provide when you’re plugging through mud or up a rutted track, they have their limitations on the road. This is particularly true if that road happens to be wet. Here, an overly enthusiastic application of throttle on the exit of a corner can cause the rear axle to step out in quite dramatic, albeit progressive and controlled, fashion.

Less entertaining is the Ford’s ability to understeer. The momentum generated by its 2.5-tonne mass can quite easily overwhelm the front tyres during sharper directional changes and make its nose wash wide when driving in damp conditions – when the car’s electronic handling aids are very much best left on.

Pick-ups by their nature have long wheelbases and lengthy rear overhangs and that doesn’t make for good breakover and departure angles. Thanks to a pretty mammoth 283mm ground clearance, though, the Raptor’s are better than most.

At 24deg, neither is as good as, say, the Mercedes G-Class that graced these pages a few weeks ago, but it’s fiercely good for a truck. The 32.5deg approach angle is great in any class, ditto an 850mm wade depth.

That ground clearance, wade depth and an under-body bash plate made of 2.3mm high-strength steel give clues to what the Raptor really likes doing off road. This is a long car with a large turning circle so is not built for delicate turns through tight woodland tracks – although it’ll put up a better fist of things than you might imagine.

But the Raptor comes into its own given a bit more breathing space, a lot more speed, and some very challenging terrain underfoot.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

The extreme lengths to which Ford Performance has gone to make the Ranger Raptor so impressively capable off the road have also paid dividends when you’re still on it.

Admittedly, its massive suspension overhaul hasn’t totally erased the skittish secondary restlessness that so often blights unladen pick-up trucks, but in the Ranger Raptor, this has been reduced to comparatively trace amounts. Its rear axle in particular is more settled than ever, with only the most scarred sections of broken Tarmac being capable of provoking the Ford into a heightened sense of agitation. Even under such conditions, though, it would be a stretch to accuse the Ranger Raptor of suffering from a dramatic shortage of sophistication or comfort.

The fluent manner in which this hardcore Ford controls its vertical body movements makes it a surprisingly comfortable companion on faster A-roads and motorways, too. It seems an almost unnatural thing to write about a car capable of operating in such extreme conditions as the Ranger Raptor is, but there’s little here that would deter you from using it as a long-distance cruiser.

The cabin is reasonably hushed as well. At a 70mph cruise, our sound gear showed a reading of 66dB. Admittedly, this is 1dB louder than the Mercedes X250d we road tested last year, but the difference is likely to be down to the Raptor’s knobbly BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres. Under the same conditions, the Jeep Wrangler – another supremely capable 4x4 – produced a less favourable 70dB reading.

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