ST. ANDREWS, NEW BRUNSWICK – With the introduction of the 2022 Bronco Raptor, Ford has released the most aggressive and capable production off-road vehicle available from any manufacturer. That’s quite a remarkable statement. But after two days of extreme off-roading near here, I’m convinced the Braptor (its nickname) backs it up.
2022 Bronco Raptor: The numbers
Price – $100,000 plus.
Power – 418-horsepower and 440 lb ft. of torque
Tires – 37-in. tall, the largest ever fitted to a production SUV
Suspension travel – 33-cm in front and 35.5-cm in the rear
Fuel economy – don’t ask!
Ford set out to wrest the ‘best off-roader’ image from Jeep.
That storied brand has long enjoyed that reputation, and has slapped the Jeep name on a wide variety of vehicles to cash in on it. Ford has addressed that with eight versions of the new Bronco, making sure there was something for everyone. The king of this hill, literally and figuratively, developed by the Ford Performance team, is the Raptor 4-door Advanced 4X4 (Braptor).
The team, headed by Mark Rushbrook, Global Director Ford Performance Motorsports, bought a Jeep Renegade, and spent $12,000 (US$) modifying it (mostly wheels, tires and suspension upgrades) to establish a baseline.
Mark told us here he was very pleased with the result. “I am very confident in the product,” he said.
The goal was to make the Bronco Raptor “the world’s first Ultra4 Racing-inspired SUV, capable of highway-speed (130 km/hr) desert driving, and Baja rock-crawling.”
They started with a fully- boxed frame made of high-strength steel, widened the vehicle 25-cm, developed a new level of the HOSS (High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension), slapped on monstrous 37-inch B F Goodrich K02 meats and stuffed it with the biggest engine that would fit.
The tricks to serious off-roading are suspension travel and wheel articulation – how far each wheel can move up and down independently in order to cope with varying terrain. On top of that you have to make sure each of those four wheels is able to provide traction, apply power. Of course, it gets a lot more complicated – and expensive – from there.
Upgraded Dana 44 AdvanTEK front axle, Dana 50 heavy duty AdvanTEK rear axle, both with 4.70 ratio. Thicker axles, tie rods, and control arms, additional bracing results in a 50% increase in torsional rigidity.
HOSS 4.0 with 7.9-cm diameter “Fox Live Valve” 3.1 interval by-pass shock absorbers, front stabilizer disconnect. Suspension height sensors monitor conditions 500 times per second and adjust suspension response accordingly. Wheels hubs and carriers, and some other suspension components, and brakes from taken from the F150 pickup parts bin.
An exclusive 418-plus horsepower 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
Terrain management system adjusts steering assist, exhaust note (!), shift points, shock absorbers, and the gearing in the 4WD system.
There are seven G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Rock-crawl, Tow-haul, Off-road and Baja. You can let GOAT choose the appropriate settings or do it yourself through buttons on the console, steering wheel, or on top of the dash.
Have fun with the settings and set them in MyMode. There are plenty – three for steering, four for shock absorbers, four for exhaust, locking front and rear differentials, and one for the front anti-roll-bar disconnect.
The transfer case offers rear wheel drive, and high or low range four-wheel drive.
Cameras are positioned in strategic locations to ensure the driver can see what is happening beneath.
To protect all these expensive bits and pieces, large protective heavy-duty steel plates are provided beneath critical components to absorb the hits when vehicle and earth’s surfaces come into contact.
This rig is obviously a blast to drive off-road.
High speed rough road work is a cinch. But the ability to crawl over incredibly rugged terrain is gob smacking!
Almost as surprising is the steering, handling, and ride on the open road. The suspension soaks up potholes, frost heaves and other major road blemishes with aplomb. The ridiculous width (25 centimetres wider than a stock Bronco) means there is very little lean in corners, more like it squats.
The added width and big fenders flares to cover the monster tires makes tight spaces tighter. Heavy braking is adventuresome as the knobby tires search for grip and the whole rigs leans forward on its haunches.
There is plenty of power and virtually no turbo lag. The Braptor weighs 400 kilos more than its lesser brethren because of all the heavy-duty stuff. The engine impresses but more would be nice because of all that extra weight – but not available because the 3.5-lite turbo six used in the F150 Raptor would not fit.
The Braptor is available in one trim level only and with the four-door body style. The interior has rubber floors, and marine-grade vinyl upholstery. There is provision above the instrument panel for smartphones and GoPro cameras, including 12-volt outlets. The latest version of Ford’s Sync 4 system includes a big (30-cm) screen.
Ford’s newest Ford Raptor, the Bronco Raptor can seemingly go anywhere and over anything.
It is a costly vehicle, but hardcore off-roaders have obviously recognized a case of getting what you pay for. The first year’s production is already sold out.