Ford Bronco Raptor first drive: Outrageous in all the best ways

Sue Mead

Sue Mead

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor

I’m a Bronco fan and many know I’ve had a love affair with the Raptor since winning my class motoring it in the 2011 Dakar rally. When Ford revived the Bronco nameplate and came out-of-the-box with a really cool modernized SUV that harkens back to its heritage– with two-door and four-door versions, a number of trim variants and special edition models– I immediately wondered when the Blue Oval would build a Bronco Raptor. I’ve known the answer for a while (it was inevitable) but only recently had the opportunity to test it out.

The 2022 Bronco Raptor was worth the wait. It’s the marriage of the two most fun aspects of off-roading- Raptor dynamics allow it to go lickety-split across the desert, while the toughened Bronco body build engineered by Ford’s Performance team make it a superb rock crawler also. Hence, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place podium sweep in the 4600-stock class at this year’s outrageously tough off-road challenge, the King of the Hammers. I motored it on the roadways in the Palm Springs environs and in the ginormous desert playground of Johnson Valley, it’s spiritual home and test bed for Ford engineers and the location of the famed KOH event. There is so much to love about this new model and so much fun to test it out with Shelby Hall, who I have co-driven with in a vintage Bronco in the Mexican 1000 for the movie One More Win, featuring her grandfather Rod Hall and his history-making ‘69 Bronco. 

Ford initially launched the Bronco in 1966 as its first sport utility vehicle, a compact, two-door off-road model with its own chassis to compete with Jeep and International Harvester. Five generations of the Bronco were released from 1966 to 1996, when the Bronco line was discontinued following a decline in demand for large two-door SUVs. After a 25-year hiatus, the sixth generation Bronco returned with both a two- and four-door model and a number of trims and special editions.

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Ford Bronco Raptor – Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Raptor name was initially used by Ford as a placeholder nickname during development of high-performance pickup trucks and SUVs, but in 2010 the Raptor designation was used for the Blue Oval’s highest-performance versions of the F-150. Optimized for off-road use, the Raptor is fitted with standard four-wheel drive, mid-travel suspension and all-terrain tires. Crazy popular with a cult-like following, it’s now spawned other Ford variants to borrow its name and some of its talents and features as well as created an ever-growing segment of the automotive market for high-performance off-and-on road trucks.

The Bronco Raptor features an exclusive twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 EcoBoost engine that pumps out 418 horses that make it run like the wind and 440-ft.-lb. of torque that allow it to tow, tug and crawl up steep inclines. A two-speed transfer case with 4H, 4L and 4A modes brings automatic on-demand engagement and it’s endowed with an electronic locking rear differential with 4.70 rear axle, plus a front locking diff. The engine delivers fuel economy of 15 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on highway, with a fuel tank capacity of 20.8 gallons.  

Purpose-built for desert running and boulder crawling, the four-door, 5 passenger SUV sits on a fully boxed, high-strength steel frame with shock towers that increase wheel travel and off-road durability, plus heavy bash and skid plates that provide coverage under the engine, transfer case and transmission. The B-pillar cross bar and C-pillar reinforcement provide 50 percent more torsional rigidity over the standard Bronco.  

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Ford Bronco Raptor – Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The competition-level axles were developed to increase track width by 8.6 inches over a base Bronco with a minimum ground clearance of 13.1 inches, 4.8 inches more than the base four-door model. The 4×4 system offers three modes and comes with a higher capacity clutch that is designed to weather the demands of high-speed desert driving. The transfer case features a 3.06 4×4 LO ratio and a crawl ratio of 67.1:1.  

The FOX designed High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) 4.0 system features a 3.1 internal bypass semi-active damper system uniquely tuned at the front and rear with integrated reservoirs and suspension height sensors that monitor conditions and adjust the suspension tuning to handle different needs.    

Other features and design elements that add to its prowess include the 47.2 degrees approach angle, while the ramp breakover angle is 30.8 degrees and the departure angle is 40.5 degrees. Maximum water fording height is 37.0 inches. Trail control, trail turn assist and trail one-pedal drive are all standard on the Ford Bronco Raptor.  

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Ford Bronco Raptor – Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco Raptor hood is sculpted to display a muscular look, with carbon black integrated hood vent while fender vents are body color. Also of note is the heavy-duty modular steel front bumper that has tow hooks (two front and two rear), the removable bumper end caps for improved off-road clearance, integrated removable Rigid LED fog lamps and off-road lamps for greater illumination on the trail. Raptor logos on the sides of the hood bulge hint at the twin-turbo power under the hood.  

The roof is made up of three removable carbonized gray panels that weigh 13.6 pounds (front left); 14.5 pounds (front right); and 28.1 pounds (mid-panel). The four removable frameless doors weigh in at 55 pounds for the front and 44 pounds for the rear doors.  

Not only a desert runner, the Bronco Raptor has been set up as an everyday driver and has plenty of technology, safety and comfort features for around-town and getting to the trail. Inside the cockpit is a 12-inch digital display cluster that allows the driver to select various views, including a performance view that emphasizes the tachometer and allows for customization of gauges. Paddle shifters and high-bolster front seats add to the race-ready interior. Base Bronco Raptor models come with black onyx marine-grade vinyl seats and rubberized flooring for easy cleaning while the dark interior is trimmed with orange accents on the mode rotary disk, dash vents, door netting, steering wheel stitching and Bronco logo on the instrument panel. 

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Ford Bronco Raptor – Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A standard SYNC4 12-inch touchscreen has swipe capability and voice recognition and an exterior camera brings 360-degree viewing. A LUX package is available with additional technology, such as available 10-speaker B&O audio system and adaptive cruise control.  

Safety control systems include roll stability control, trail sway control, electric power-assisted steering and ABS, Driver and passenger dual-stage front and seat side airbags and safety canopy side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors are standard.  

Starting price for the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor is $68,500, destination included, with fully-outfitted versions topping out at approximately $82,500.  

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Ford Bronco Raptor – Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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