A lot of cars today feel a little too… formulaic today. There’s barely a gap in the market that has fewer than 2 players. The last of these was filled just last week by the Toyota Yaris. But today we’re looking at a much larger product: pick-up trucks.

The Ranger Raptor, now available in black and white

Before we go into this, it’s worth noting that Ford has successfully distinguished itself in the past 2 generations with its Ranger. Sitting on side of the spectrum are all the ‘safe, conventional’ Japanese pick-ups. Sitting alone on the opposite end is the Ranger and its Wildtrak variants.

The Raptor looks great on tarmac, but better off-road

But in truth, the Wildtrak didn’t do too much to differentiate the product. You were still getting a mechanically similar machine. In fact, by the end of its previous run, Ford was even selling a 2.2-litre Wildtrak which narrowed the gap even further.

The previous Wildtrak even came in with a 2.2L

With this generation, we have the Ranger Raptor. Don’t confuse this vehicle for just another variant of the pick-up. The truth is this is as far away from a segment as any car has even been in Malaysia.

Chunky ‘Raptor’ logo. Quality stuff.

In fact, I think Ford may have just opened up a whole new segment altogether. Here’s why.

Value

It’s not normal for us to bring up value first in any car review, but here it’s appropriate. Because the biggest differentiator between the Ranger Raptor and any other pick-up truck on the market is price. The thing goes for RM200,000! For context, the gap between the Raptor and the 2nd most expensive pick-up is a whopping RM55,000. So, the question is this, what is the Raptor doing to justify its enormous price tag. We must work backward here to see how much of that gap represents actual value added.

Baseline

The first thing we need to acknowledge is that the Ranger itself forms a very impressive baseline. It is undeniably a class-leader in terms of NVH, perceived value, material choice, and is high scoring and cutting edge when it comes to mechanical aspects. How many pick-up trucks offer this kind of payload capacity, efficiency and power?

Even the Wildtrak models are exceptional performers

Well, maybe a few come close, but none of them do it on a 2-litre engine with a 10-speed gearbox. If you ask me if that adds value, I would say it does on daily commutes. The one thing that really distracts when using a pick-up as a daily is the incessant diesel ‘chug and glug’. The Ranger does away with 80% of this noise by keeping revs low, better insulation, and active noise cancellation.

So, yes. The first thing we need to acknowledge is that we’re already in one of the highest scoring pick-ups available.

Hardware

We can’t deny there’s quite a significant mechanical difference here. The leaf springs found in most pick-up trucks (besides the Nissan Navara) have been replaced with coil springs and  FOX Racing Shocks. On tarmac, this lends the Ranger Raptor exceptionally confident handling with less nervousness and none of the bone-breaking harshness found on most other pick-up trucks.

Ready for an off-road adventure

That alone immediately impresses. But once you take it off-road, that’s when you really understand what the new suspension is capable of. The Ranger Raptor glides over rough terrain with the kind of confidence and poise reserved for the Range Rovers and Land Cruisers of this world. Of course, it will never that kind of luxury, but the capabiity is there and its BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tyres excellent Terrain Manage System, and Locking Rear Diff, the Ranger Raptor does pull ahead of any other pick-up truck on offer in the country.

We couldn’t keep it clean

I would note that the tyres here do hold its performance back on the tarmac. Perhaps more tarmac-friendly ones would be advisable for those looking to use these cars in the city more often.

Proper, next level suspension on a pick-up

The list of differences here is immense. A tougher chassis, 2.3” thick underbody bash plate, 285mm wide BF Goodrich tyres, a new grille,

You’ll not find materials like this in any other pick-up

On the inside, unique Raptor elements on the headrest, suede inserts on the upholstery, a new steering wheel, unique stitching. There’s enough here to make it stand out even more than the Wildtrak does. Even the new instrument cluster looks great.

Simple, sporty instrumentation

Performance

The mechanical differences mentioned above would have signifcantly added to the cost of the Ranger. But it does translate to better performance for the end-user. Charging for better hardware is one thing, but when it comes together this well, there’s added value too. A huge complaint almost all pick-ups share is the sheer harshness of the suspension.

Tuned by the experts

I’m not kidding, most pick-up trucks are nauseating to passengers. Not the Ranger Raptor. The improvements to its off-roading performance also have the lovely side effect of making it pliable on the road. It’s just lovely to finally take advantage of a pick-up trucks torque without fearing for my spine.

There’s also the great little touch of the piped-in V8 noises. At low speed, the diesel chug does seep in ever so slightly. But once you get moving, the mics and speakers cancel that out and give you some really convincing, really fun engine noises. Yes, it is fakery, but we’d take it over the industrial sounds of a diesel any day.

Finally, there’s also the intangible value of being recognised in a Ranger Raptor. This thing is a head turner. There are million Ringgit cars that don’t get as many stares as this RM200,000 truck. That’s saying something. It’s refreshing to see something aggressive this professionally designed. For years, pick-up truck owners have poured tens of thousands of Ringgit into their vehicles to ‘elevate’ the looks.

Some manufacturers have even added bodykits, paint schemes and decals to this effect. But with just one stroke, Ford has silenced all of them. THIS is how you mod a pick-up. THIS is what it ought to look like. Take notes.

Opportunity Cost and the pioneer’s margin

Now, if all that isn’t already enough to justify an RM55,000 price difference, then we have to get back to Ford’s point of view. A car as unique and desireable as the Ranger Raptor ‘sells itself’, but not everyone has RM200,000 to blow on a new pick-up. Every Raptor produced is one standard Ranger or Wildtrak Ranger that is taken off the production line. There is an element of opportunity cost here. These pick-ups are in much higher demand because they are much more attainable to many more people.

Finally, we also have to consider the fact that there are just no competitors in the market, at least not in the new car space. Ford were the first ones to see the gap and exploit it. For that, they should for the time being be allowed some additional margin. The whole point of free market competition is to bring this margin down for the benefit of the consumer. But that’s not up to Ford, is it?

Conclusion

RM200,000 is still a very high price for anyone to spend on a pick-up truck. There are nicer passenger cars out there. You could even stretch your budget and find yourself in a German compact executive. But this is not the Raptor’s target market.

The Raptor calls to a certain crowd. It’s for those who already have 2 or 3 vehicles in their garage and are looking for something to ‘break away’ from the pack without breaking the bank. Based on that and the reasons above, I have to conclude that the Ranger completely justifies its price.

Watch our sights and sounds video here to further explore the Ford Ranger Raptor:

Ford Ranger Raptor Specifications

Engine: Inline 4, Biturbo, Diesel
Capacity: 1996cc
Gearbox: 10-speed Conventional Automatic
Max power: 210hp @ 3750rpm
Max torque: 500Nm @ 1750rpm
Top Speed: 170 km/h
0-100 km/h: 10.5 seconds
Price: RM199,888