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2022 Ford Bronco Raptor: Could This Be the Perfect Raptor?

ford-bronco-raptor-2022-01-exterior-front-angle-red-suv 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor | Cars.com photo by Leslie Hilliard

I’ve long said that if the flag ever went up and the Apocalypse came, the first thing I’d do would be to run to the Ford dealer down the street and snag an F-150 Raptor off the lot. It’s the ultimate adventure vehicle, the ultimate survival tool: Driving one makes you feel like you can roll over any terrain at crazy speed, which is exactly the Raptor’s Baja-race-inspired reason for existence. But where the F-150 Raptor has never felt at home has been on a slower trail ride. It’s wide, long and crazy heavy; it’s really a battle-ax in situations that call for a scalpel. Wouldn’t something a bit smaller and lighter, with a shorter wheelbase and the ability to both blast across a desert and scale a sheer rock face, be more appealing? Wouldn’t it be even better if it were a convertible that had removable doors?

Related: 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor: Smaller Size, Different Mission, Still Awesome

ford-bronco-raptor-2022-08-badge-exterior-red-suv-wheel 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor | Cars.com photo by Leslie Hilliard

The Right-Sized Raptor

Enter the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor, which on paper looks to be an amazing next step in the Raptor family. It sits on the Bronco platform that we’re told will also underpin the next-generation Ranger mid-size pickup truck (which should really start your brain going about what the next Raptor might be). It’s considerably smaller than the F-150 Raptor, but my tour of the underpinnings of the thing showed me that it’s by no means a second fiddle to the big pickup. The extent of the changes to the Bronco to make it a Raptor are stunning — axles, shock tower mounts, additional jounce bumpers, unique shock absorbers, different suspension arms, bearings, exhaust routing … The list of parts and the effort that went into them is astonishing. This isn’t just a Bronco with a few extra bits; this is a heavily modified vehicle that should behave quite differently than even the most aggressive Bronco Badlands trim.

Perhaps what’s most important is to know that this Bronco is not just meant for blasting across the desert like its F-150 big brother — Ford is careful to point out that the inspiration for this vehicle is different. The pickup is meant to be a Baja racer, but the Bronco is inspired by the Ultra4 race series. As such, it has to be able to do more than just high-speed flights across the American Southwest. It also has to be able to do slow things like rock crawling and short-course dirt-track racing well. That means it’s going to be a more rounded vehicle with some pretty extraordinary abilities — if it matches up in the dirt to what it promises in the showroom.

ford-bronco-raptor-2022-21-interior-drivers-seat-front-passenger-seat-front-row-suv 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor | Cars.com photo by Leslie Hilliard

Upgrades Inside and Out

The look of the Bronco Raptor is just so cool. Ford invited me to view it at an off-road park in Southeast Michigan, and reps had parked the Raptor next to a base model Bronco Big Bend. The difference is stark; I would not have thought it possible for any Bronco to look wimpy, but parked next to the Raptorized version, that’s exactly how a lesser Bronco appears. The fender flares are works of art — they’re not only functional, but they’re sculpted and contoured with far more pizazz than was even necessary. And, like just about everything else on a Bronco, they’re removable. The hood is more aggressive. The grille, the lighting, even the taillights look cooler on the Raptor than on a normal Bronco.

And inside, that level of customization continues with more aggressively bolstered yet still comfortable seats, a super-thick steering wheel (which may be more for show than effective handling, I think), a sweet optional dark-blue leather interior with orange stitching, and orange accents everywhere. It looks properly Raptorized in there, again showing just how far Ford is willing to take the modifications to ensure that the Raptor is, indeed, something special … something we haven’t seen Jeep do with the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392, I must say.

ford-bronco-raptor-2022-13-exterior-rear-angle-red-suv 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor | Cars.com photo by Leslie Hilliard

Of course, one thing the Raptor won’t have that the Rubicon 392 does is an excess of power and noise. Yes, you do have a mode-selectable true dual exhaust with near equal-length headers from the twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a small V-6 and likely won’t be able to match the visceral, bone-shaking roar that we know comes from the pipes of a 6.4-liter V-8 Wrangler. The EcoBoost powertrains are quite good in keeping things quick and lively, however, as evidenced by the fun we’ve had in a 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor in Sand mode around an ice-and-snow-covered dirt track. That thing was a hoot already — so making the jump to a Bronco Raptor by adding more power, a suspension made both for jumping and crawling, and huge 37-inch wheels means that this new SUV is set to be even more of a riot out in the bush.

That said, it’s going to cost a pretty penny. Ford says the Bronco Raptor will start around $70,000 (including destination). That’s $20,000-plus more than a four-door Bronco Wildtrak, though it’s also around $6,500 less than a Rubicon 392. Ford opens preorders for the Bronco Raptor in March.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Jan. 24, 2022, with pricing information from Ford.

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