Auto Review: Rambo truck rolls on road

The 3rd truck with the Raptor badge is yet another tall, brawny off-roader with fender flares as big as Stallone’s biceps

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Mon 13 May 2024, 4:32 PM

The 3rd truck with the Raptor badge is yet another tall, brawny off-roader with fender flares as big as Stallone’s biceps.

Over 10 years ago, Ford revealed the F-150 SVT Raptor. It was a hulking off-road-ready machine that took the world by storm. In 2019, the Ranger pickup got the Raptor badge and it too earned market favour. Now, the much-hyped Bronco SUV has received the Raptor treatment…and here’s our takeaway from the few days spent driving it.


The Bronco nameplate was revived to rival the Wrangler, Jeep’s cash cow that’s been dominating the mid-size off-roader segment for decades. As a deliberate throwback, the Bronco banks on retro styling, pilfering the much-loved boxy silhouette and details from its predecessors. Additionally, the new Raptor gets “F O R D” emblazoned across the flat face between the round LED headlamps. And mind you, this is no regular Bronco (already a large vehicle), this is a monstrous metallic being that towers over everything including Nissan Patrols. It’s also incredibly wide, more so on the outside than the inside, thanks to its giant fender flares – possibly the largest we’ve seen – that cover the bulges of the massive 37-inch BF Goodrich tyres. It also has functional hood vents, side vents and an exposed rear-hanging spare wheel. All of it comes together to form the most rambunctiously rugged, retro-inspired SUV in the market today. Staring at its exaggerated looks made me feel like a child again and that’s the purpose of such machines, I suppose.

Scaling the high cabin is made easy by the steel sidestep and dashboard-level grab handle. On the inside, it looks decidedly clunky, matching the outer machismo without appearing cluttered or cheap. What grabs your eyeballs first are the large, perpendicular dash panel and vertically orientated A/C vents. Keeping with the theme, the Raptor also gets the chunkiest of steering wheels with a ‘bucking horse’ emblem on it. The steering controls seem overpopulated at first, but they’re easy to operate.


Preproduction model with available equipment shown. Available Summer 2022
Preproduction model with available equipment shown. Available Summer 2022

As retro-inspired the Bronco may be, it’s very much a ‘Sport Ute’ for the 21st century. You’ll love the large Tesla-size 12-inch infotainment screen! Its menus are easy to navigate, and the graphics are nice; the slowish processing speed and unreceptive voice controls are the only letdowns. Other niceties include a customizable 12-inch digital instrumentation, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports and a wireless charger for large phones. It also has a big 360-degree camera view which helps with parking maneuvers. The A/C works well too, although not having rear vents in a family SUV is a miss. With that said, the Bronco was designed to have its interior opened up to the elements, by having its doors and roof panels removed, which is a feature like no other…and the 10-speaker B&O sound system ensures that your favourite tunes are heard by all of the food chain as you traverse the wilderness. The 2-piece tailgate opens to a sizable squarish boot and the 2000-something kg tow capacity can take care of everything else. It’s also got a large central cubby and netted door bins.

From the driver’s perspective, the stylized dual-tone seats, upholstered in a leather-fabric mix are both comfortable and supportive; and all the driving controls come nicely to the hands and feet. Even visibility is good, which is important for city driving and avoidance of debris on paths less travelled; except that the giant spare obstructs the rear view. My other gripe is with the non-illuminated shifter markings!

Pushing that starter button stirs up the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 motor. In full swing, it puts out a solid 418 horses and 598 Nm of torque. which meets the tarmac via a 10-speed automatic and switchable four-wheel drive system. Sure, it’s not a V8 like the F-150 R’s or Wrangler 392’s, but this horse has legs. Right from the get-go you feel power residing under your right foot. Stomp the gas pedal and in moments, you go from a rear squat and screeching tyres to being hurled down the road, getting to 100 km/h in a sportscar-like 6 seconds, despite its size and weight. Its racy exhaust note can also be amplified further via the dedicated button (with a Baja mode) on the steering wheel; the suspension and steering settings can also be adjusted similarly on the fly. Expectedly, there is considerable body roll and quick directional changes aren’t its thing, but on the flip side the ride is comfy. Also, under heavy braking the 4 discs work had to bring it to a screeching halt, for which reason, keeping one’s distance is recommended.

Right off the factory, this Raptor is built to take on every kind of offroad terrain. The ride height, the A/T tyres, turbocharged power and easy access 4x4 controls and drive modes give you all the capability to go mile munching in the dunes or trails. Much of its prowess is attributed to its HOSS 4.0 (High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension System) with FOX Live Valve Dampers (which alter damping effect in real-time depending on the terrain). And the reinforced axles make sure you’re not left behind for a tow truck to save. There are also overhead upfitter switches to connect an electric winch or light bar, adding that much-needed versatility. And with that I’d say, the Bronco Raptor is an easy choice for climbing Big Red or rock crawling at Wadi Shawka.

The 5-door-only 2024 Ford Bronco Raptor SUV is a super truck fit for an action-hero movie like Rambo. It is an wheeled intersection of boxy retro styling, brawny visual modifications, turbo power and mechanical upgrades making it a family SUV beaming with character, one that is hugely capable both on and off the road. Granted, it has a slow processor, restricted rear view, gas guzzling habits, and hefty price tag, but in a world of straight-laced steeds, it reminds us that we can be bold and adventurous like a wild horse i.e. bronco…and be rewarded for it.

FUN FACT

The Ford Bronco was featured in several movies including ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’

GOOD: Rugged, retro bodywork; turbo power; features and space; off road prowess

BAD: Slowish infotainment processor; obstructed rear view; fuel inefficient; pricey

EDITOR’S RATING: 8/10 stars

SPECIFICATIONS:

Body type: 5-seater; 4-door mid-size SUV

Engine:Front-engine; twin-turbo 3.0 V6; four-wheel drive

Transmission: 10-speed SelectShift (automatic)

Peak output: 418 PS @ 5,500 rpm - 598 Nm

0 to 100kmph:0 seconds (estimated)

Top speed:-180 kmph (drag limited; estimated)

Fuel economy: 4.9 kmpl (observed)

Price:-Starting at Dh377,905.50

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