A Ford Bronco Raptor has been rumored practically since the iconic SUV was reborn in July of 2020, and those rumors have proved true. On Monday the new model debuted in all its broad-shouldered, steroidal off-road glory. This 4×4 is a caffeinated energy drink come to life.
Ford officials won’t say whether a Raptor was always in the game plan for Bronco, but it’s clear Blue Oval engineers knew they were baking the potential for a high-speed off-roader into the standard model’s chassis. After all, independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering are simply better fits for the demands of pounding across desert whoops at a breakneck pace than the rigid axle and recirculating-ball steering normally found in this segment. That doesn’t mean Ford engineers and designers teamed up on a few bolt-ons, slapped on some Raptor family visual cues and shoved this truck out the door.
On the contrary, so much has changed in the Raptorization process that it’s tough to keep track of everything. Yes, there’s a new engine. Yes, there’s a totally new long-travel suspension. Yes, there’s new bodywork. Even the taillights have been changed for functional and legal reasons. So much is new, in fact, that I’m expecting this truck to drive substantially differently from all other Bronco models, including its closest kin, the Wildtrak. Ford claims the Raptor was designed as the “world’s first Ultra4-inspired SUV,” and indeed, the automaker clandestinely tested parts for this model on its professional off-road race trucks. Whether the Bronco Raptor actually drives like an Ultra4 remains to be seen, but it’s going to be fun to find out.
Putting the ‘Bro’ in ‘Bronco’
You won’t mistake a 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor on the street for its relatives, even those with Sasquatch feet. Function-over-form priorities mean this Raptor is built like a linebacker. Despite being taller than any other Bronco at 77.8 inches, because the Raptor has so much additional width, it almost looks squatter, but that’s an optical illusion. Track widths are up by 8.6 inches versus a base Bronco, with 37-inch BFGoodrich K02 rubber shrouded by massive new fenders made from sheet-molding compound for added strength. Overall width is up by 9.8 inches versus a non-Sasquatch Bronco. In fact, despite being much shorter in length than an F-150 Raptor, less than an inch separates the two models widthwise. Put another way, that means this rig is nearly 1 foot wider than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon — a great trait for wide-open desert running, but a potential liability when negotiating tight trails or the crowded urban jungle.
Beyond those huge and odd-looking flared fenders, the Bronco Raptor’s face is dominated by a new, two-piece F-O-R-D grille that boasts 50% greater flow-through for superior cooling. The new grille also integrates a set of amber clearance lights legally required because of the Raptor’s extraordinary width. Indeed, Ford changed all of the front end’s accent lighting to a matching amber color, including the daytime running lamps and side mirror lights. Other changes include a new modular steel bumper with removable endcaps and integrated (but removable) Rigid-branded LED fog- and off-road lights, as well as a unique power-dome hood (also made from SMC) with additional vents.
Along the bodysides, beyond the fenders and the all-business, beadlock-capable 17×8.5-inch wheels, the Bronco Raptor’s most obvious new feature is a set of standard running boards. At first, they seem like a strange decision on an off-road vehicle where clearance is everything. Fear not, though, as they aren’t just designed for easier ingress and egress. These novel two-piece units feature integrated rock sliders. Simply unbolt the steps when you’re ready to go off-roading and the reinforced side rails will help keep your underbody safe from stabby, scrapey terrestrial bits.
It’s not just the Raptor’s front and sides that look vastly different, its rear end’s aesthetic and functionality has been substantially changed, too, with a redesigned, heavier-duty spare tire carrier required to handle the upsized wheel. The new mount adds bolt-on locations for owners to add their own off-road gear like a jack or recovery boards.
But that’s not the only change necessitated by Raptor’s mondo spare tire, and it’s not just the revised third brake light. Ford even had to redesign the taillights to keep them legal. You see, that rear-mounted spare is so thick that it blocked the Bronco’s standard light fixtures when viewed from certain angles. That’s why the new ones stick out more. Ford even went and integrated blind-spot monitor sensors into the housings like the F-150, which means you might want to invest in some light guards, as replacements will be commensurately more expensive.
The net-net for the overall design is that this new rig looks positively intimidating, and it definitely shares an aggressive familial aura with its F-150 Raptor big brother. To be clear, a great deal of the standard design’s retro charm has been sacrificed in favor of a look that puts the “Bro” in “Bronco.” That said, it’s hard to see how that period-style feel could’ve been maintained given that Raptor’s high-performance marching orders necessitated these Tonka-like proportions.
Engine and power
Ford has yet to release the full powertrain specs, but we do know this truck is powered by a version of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 that’s used in the Ford Explorer ST and Lincoln Aviator. All the Blue Oval is saying right now is that this engine is “targeted to deliver more than 400 horsepower.” That suggests there’s upwards of 70 horses’ worth of daylight between the standard Bronco’s optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, which produces 330 hp on premium fuel.
If anything, that output is likely a conservative figure, as the same engine manages 425 hp in other Ford products, along with 415 pound-feet of torque. Ford also isn’t ballparking how much twist the engine will make in this Raptor, but it would appear this setup has better cooling, breathing and exhaust potential, so I’d be surprised if the company’s engineers fail to nudge both output figures solidly upward, especially since the 2.7T in other Broncos already makes 415 lb-ft.
Ford’s 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission reports for duty here again, with a few Raptor-specific upgrades, including the availability of magnesium paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel (lesser Broncos make do with an annoyingly cheap thumb switch on the gearshift lever). No manual transmission will be offered.
The Raptor’s EcoBoost should sound better than other Bronco models, as this engine took breathing lessons from its 2022 F-150 Raptor sibling. No, it doesn’t get that truck’s larger 3.5-liter engine, let alone sound like a V8, but the 3.0T does have a 30% less-restrictive exhaust with driver-selectable active valving. There are four modes for this true-dual system: Normal, Sport, Quiet and Baja for the truly antisocial. The exhaust system itself is completely different, with unique routing and muffler placement. The tailpipes are tucked up under the rear bumper for better off-road clearance and there are a mess of skid plates protecting much of the underbody, including the engine, transmission and transfer case.
Given the Raptor’s additional power, as well as the truck’s much-wider track and expected heavy-duty abuse cycles, it’s no surprise that just about all of the driveline’s rotating bits have been rethought, too. For starters, the three-mode four-wheel-drive system includes a higher-capacity clutch, and there’s an uprated transfer case that delivers a 67.7:1 crawl ratio.
Ford officials tell us that despite this truck’s emphasis on high-speed off-roading, maintaining the Bronco Raptor’s low-speed crawling ability was a key mission — in fact, engineers even kept the disconnecting front sway bar found on select other Bronco models with one notable improvement. The bar reconnects at higher vehicle speeds: 30 mph on road and 50 mph off road (base Bronco bars reconnect at 20 mph).
The rear axle is a semi-float Dana 50 Advantek axle with 9.3-inch ring gear, and up front there’s a Dana 44 Advantek with 8.3-inch ring gear. These axles span 73.6 inches, an increase of 8.6 inches versus non-Sasquatch base Broncos.
Suspension, steering and braking
More than intimidating looks or powertrains that are red in tooth and claw, Ford’s Raptor models have always been defined by their burlier suspensions, and this new Bronco doesn’t disappoint. It’s clear that the HOSS 4.0 suspension’s engineers learned and adapted a lot from developing the latest 2022 F-150 Raptor. With the help of new control arms, shock towers and a whole host of Raptor-specific kinematic bits, this model boasts 13 inches of suspension travel up front and 14 inches out back (60% and 40% more than a base Bronco, front and rear), as well as 13.1 inches of ground clearance. That said, Ford has yet to disclose this vehicle’s all-important arrival, departure and breakover angles, as well as its max water-fording capability.
As expected, the Bronco Raptor gets adaptive Fox internal-bypass shocks that are nearly identical to the F-150 Raptor’s units. Measuring a stout 3.1 inches around, the fronts use internal reservoirs while the rear units are treated to remote reservoirs for better thermal management.
Naturally, with those big tires, Ford also felt the need to reinforce the steering system, so in addition to thicker inner- and outer tie-rod ends, there’s a beefier power steering rack and housing modeled on the F-150 Raptor.
Similarly, the upsized brakes are also F-150 Raptor derived. Ford isn’t saying how much more this Raptor weighs than other models, but considering even a standard Bronco four-door with the Sasquatch package is a porker, bigger brakes will certainly be welcome.
Just about all of the performance electronics available on lesser Broncos are present, too, including the GOAT mode selector, here with seven settings for varied driving conditions, including Normal, Mud/Ruts, Sand/Snow, Rock Crawl and Baja (the latter includes the turbocharger anti-lag feature found on the F-150 Raptor). There’s also a new Tow/Haul mode to help take advantage of the Raptor’s available 4,500-pound towing capability, a helpful 1,000 pounds higher than other Bronco models. The Raptor’s unique exhaust system left room for even beefier tow hitch receiver supports.
In addition, existing Bronco off-road features such as Trail Turn Assist (which locks the inside rear wheel on loose surfaces for tighter turns), Trail One-Pedal Driving (which does away with the need to modulate the brake and accelerator with two feet when slowly climbing over objects) and Trail Control (low-speed off-road cruise control) are all present. You can also opt for other Broncos’ advanced driver-assist safety features, including adaptive cruise control.
Inside, there are a host of meaningful changes to the Raptor’s cabin, including grippier new performance seats, a redesigned steering wheel and loads of code orange and carbon-fiber-look accents. The most obvious change is the arrival of a fully digital gauge cluster. While other Broncos make do with an odd mix of digital and physical gauges, this 12-inch display is reconfigurable and includes a unique-to-Raptor performance view where the tach and chosen gear take visual priority.
You can get a more hardcore, easier-to-keep-clean interior that includes washable floors and marine-grade vinyl seat upholstery, or splurge on the Premium trim, which gets leather and faux-suede seats, the aforementioned redesigned wheel with paddle shifters and a vinyl-wrapped instrument panel cap.
You won’t find a Raptor with the downsized 8-inch infotainment display found in many lower-model Broncos. All Raptors receive the larger 12-inch touchscreen running Sync 4 infotainment. The latter helpfully includes a 360-degree camera system whose bird’s-eye coverage ought to be useful both off-road and in tight urban situations with a vehicle as wide as this. The available Luxury package brings in B&O premium audio, adaptive cruise control and other cabin niceties.
One thing you might not immediately notice in the cabin is the presence of additional cross-bracing in the roll structure. Ford justifiably made a big deal about how wide-open the standard Bronco feels compared to Jeep Wrangler when the two vehicles have their roofs off. That will be less of an advantage with Raptor, which adds in a structural brace between the B-pillars just behind the driver’s head. This aluminum extrusion is designed to accommodate helmeted drivers, and together with an additional brace bolted to the rearmost pillars, the Raptor’s body-in-white is said to boast torsional rigidity that’s 50% higher than other models. That major improvement will be welcome when the laws of physics threaten to pretzel the upper structure of an overconfident, underskilled YouTuber who inevitably says, “Hey, y’all, watch this.”
All the toys, but only some of the answers
Inside and out, the Raptor looks to be a ridiculously capable, purpose-built machine. A lot of unanswered questions remain, however, and most of them center on important missing numbers, including power output and acceleration figures, weight, fuel economy and perhaps most importantly, price.
Given how thoroughly this vehicle was developed, and given all of the additional standard equipment, it’s reasonable to assume that the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor’s MSRP will start well above the price of a loaded four-door Wildtrak, potentially landing just beneath its F-150 Raptor big brother, which starts at $65,840 delivered. That sort of base pricing would launch this Bronco into rarified air among non-luxury 4×4 SUVs when it arrives in dealers this March, but the Raptor’s impressive hardware certainly looks like it’s got the goods to ensure a soft landing.