After a 24-year production hiatus, Ford reintroduced the Bronco in 2020, and ever since, it has sold like hotcakes to those looking for a serious off-road machine. If you’re looking at a new Ford Bronco, you have a dizzying array of options to choose from – perhaps too many. In addition to the standard trim levels you’d expect from any model, Ford also offers around ten unique, specialized variants to meet the needs of any potential buyer. Generally, these are focused on off-road driving, and come with names like the Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, and Wildtrak, among others. Even serious Ford enthusiasts might need to look up these trim levels individually in order to keep them straight. But now there’s one more model available that needs absolutely no introduction: the Bronco Raptor.
The Raptor Through the Years
While nearly everyone with a passing interest in the auto industry is familiar with the Ford F-150 Raptor, it can be helpful to put the Bronco variant into a little context. First introduced in 2010, the original Raptor was based on the Ford F-150 and featured a modified suspension system and increased ride height, as well as a more powerful engine and larger tires. Additionally, it also featured a unique set of Fox Racing internal bypass shocks that were developed specifically for the Raptor, which allowed it to provide a smooth ride on-road while also allowing for maximum suspension travel off-road.
2020 was a big year with many changes for the F-150 Raptor; the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine saw its output increased to 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. Its popularity hasn’t waned, and the Ford Raptor continues to be a popular choice among off-road enthusiasts and is known for its combination of power, durability, and off-road capabilities. Now all of these great features are available in the body-on-frame SUV that is the new Bronco, culminating in what Ford refers to as “the ultimate off-road brute.”
The New Bronco Raptor
As Ford seeks to expand their Raptor line, the Bronco is an obvious choice, and perhaps just the best looking Raptor currently in the lineup. Other than the usual “Raptor” badging and livery that can be found throughout the exterior, there are a few other clues on the outside that will give away a Bronco Raptor.
Most will probably notice the tires first; the 37” all-terrains are large by anyone’s definition, and set inside four very large and aggressive-looking fender flares. Having 37” tires available from the factory is a huge plus to many serious off-roaders, and the Raptor package enables this without any of the backyard engineering that is commonly employed on many rigs to fit tires of this size.
You’ll also notice the full-length bash plates, or skid plates, that protect the undercarriage of the vehicle and can be seen wrapping around the front bumper. Speaking of that bumper, it’s modular in construction (similar to the way the Wrangler Rubicon bumper is designed), and features high-quality RIGID fog lamps. These are made in the United States and are a popular aftermarket lighting upgrade for those hitting the trail. All of these make for a fairly stunning vehicle with rugged-good looks.
As expected, the Bronco Raptor also features quite a few goodies under the hood that help to make this a no-questions-asked off-road machine. First, the truck is powered by the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6, outputting 418 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. Behind the mill lies a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is invaluable with such large tires.
The front sway bar features an electronic disconnect, which allows for more suspension flex when tackling obstacles. While some folks desperately wanted to see the new Bronco feature a solid front axle, like the Wranglers, with this electronic sway bar disconnect, the capabilities of the Bronco’s independent suspension will come very, very close to any solid axle setup.
Another key component of the suspension is Ford’s “HOSS 4.0” system, which features custom-tuned Fox internal bypass shock absorbers. Everything is designed to work in conjunction with Ford’s electronic Terrain Management System, which is where the much-anticipated GOAT modes begin to shine. You have seven different GOAT modes to choose from here, including: Normal, Eco, Sport, Mud/Ruts, Slippery, Sand/Snow, Rock Crawl, and Baja. While there is the Rock Crawl mode, the DNA of the Raptor lies in higher-speed forest roads and baja-ing through the desert.
There’s also an additional option package on top of the Raptor trim, the Lux package. For an extra $2,300, you’ll get Adaptive Cruise Control, a wireless phone charger, heated steering wheel, B&O 10-speaker audio system, and smart-charging USB ports.
The Next, Greatest Raptor?
The Bronco Raptor takes over ten years of research and development from the F-150 Raptor, and melds them into what is already one of the most capable off-road SUVs on the market. While the $73,780 MSRP might seem steep to some, all of the hard work and upgrades have already been done at the factory, and it’s backed by a full bumper-to-bumper 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. This alone might make it worth the extra price to some buyers who would be performing these modifications anyway.
While the Bronco and the F-150 Raptor might seem as though they compete against each other, it might be unlikely that the Bronco will poach buyers from the pickup. The Raptor still retains an advantage with towing, payload, and gear storage; for example, it’s not highly recommended to just toss a few gas cans into the trunk of an SUV. The Bronco will likely be preferred by those who don’t need to do serious towing, like to travel with all of their gear accessible in the cabin, and might prefer a slightly smaller rig than the large F-150.
It’s clear that the newest Bronco was designed from the get-go to be a serious contender on and off the road, and the Bronco Raptor is quite possibly the purest expression of the design intent. With big, beefy 37” tires, high-quality aux lights, skid plates, and enough electronic trickery to send someone to Mars, it will truly go over any terrain and shepherd the driver to the end of any trail or any adventure.