Until last year, Jeep had the open-top off-roader category all to itself. Then Ford
used a beloved name from its history, building a convertible SUV with formidable off-road skills and rugged gook looks – the resurrected Ford Bronco. Despite some headaches with roof production, it’s been a hit with critics, winning North American Utility Vehicle of the Year for 2022. It sold so well that some buyers are waiting a year or more for their chance to own the beast.
But, though old-school Broncos are revered for their off-road prowess, it’s rare to see a stock one. They became canvases for generations of mechanics and tuners, who boosted their capabilities with big tires, added suspension travel, and other tricks of the garage trade.
If Ford really wanted to celebrate the Bronco that America remembers, it needed to lift one and put a set of ridiculous tires on it. Enter the Ford Bronco Raptor.
It’ll probably remain nearly mythical for a while
Ford has now revealed its own shop-tuned Bronco, the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor. Like the F-150 Raptor whose nametag it borrows, the Bronco Raptor is an off-road-tuned edition of a vehicle already built for the rough stuff.
Ford held back a few key details, including the price.
The F-150 Raptor starts at $65,375 — not the most expensive F-150 you can buy. We’re confident that trend won’t hold with the Bronco Raptor. This will likely cost more than the current top-of-the-range Bronco Wildtrak’s $47,780 starting price. It’s also likely to be almost impossible to find. Ford says, “a majority of the 2022 model year Bronco Raptor allocation will go to existing reservation holders,” who will be asked if they’d like to upgrade before dealers can sell new Bronco Raptor reservations.
Ridiculous tires under ludicrous fender flares
What’s the difference between a Bronco and a Bronco Raptor?
It won’t be hard to tell the two apart.
The Raptor sits on enormous 37-inch tires — even bigger than the 35-inch tires that come with the Sasquatch package. Ground clearance is now 13.1-inches – 1.6 inches more than a Sasquatch and 4.8 inches more than the base model Bronco.
But it’s the width you’ll notice first. The Raptor is a lane-filling 9.8-inches wider than the base Bronco, thanks to 8.6 inches of added track width and huge fender flares to hide it. Huuuuge fender flares. It’s a good thing they added so much height to the SUV because your fenders will be shading cars in the lanes beside you.
Bronco Raptors also borrow the enormous block-letter F-O-R-D grille from the F-150 Raptor. Hood vents help keep the engine cool under heavy load.
Though the standard Bronco is available in 2- or 4-door guise, the Raptor will come only with four. Ford says the longer wheelbase of the 4-door Bronco better handles the sort of high-speed bumps Raptor buyers might seek out.
400-plus horsepower, all the suspension upgrades
That engine has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 “targeted to deliver more than 400 horsepower.” Ford didn’t provide a final power figure. Power goes to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
In a surprising turn, the Bronco Raptor can out-tow the standard Bronco. Most high-performance editions of trucks and SUVs have less payload and towing capacity than the base models they are built from. But the Horse Bird (see what we did there?) can tow 4,500 pounds – 1,000 more than other Broncos.
But, as with the F-150 Raptor, it’s the suspension that matters most. The fully boxed frame has added bracing. Sway bars disengage and reengage at the touch of a button. New-generation Fox LiveValve adaptive shocks feature position-sensitive damping. Ford says its High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (they’re calling it HOSS, of course) uses sensors that “monitor terrain conditions independently hundreds of times every second and adjust suspension tuning accordingly.”
The approach angle is 47.2 degrees, breakover is 30.8, and departure is 40.5.
Day-Glo orange cabin accents
The Bronco Raptor’s cabin is as distinctive as its exterior.
You can feel its high-performance ambitions in your hands, thanks to a new, thicker leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters. The shifter, grab-handles, and buttons wear low-gloss carbon fiber. There’s a new button you can use to activate a custom driving mode you create through the 12-inch touchscreen.
Bright orange accents on the shifter, doors, vents, and at 12-o’clock on the steering wheel shout “Raptor.” Optional orange seatbelts sound bizarre but look great against the black leather. A Lux Package adds a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and adaptive cruise control should you, for some unimaginable reason, find yourself on a paved road.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.