Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Smells like a steak and seats 35.

Andrew Krok/CNET

The Ford Bronco is an eminently capable SUV that’s impressive off-road without feeling like a hot mess on the pavement. But there’s always room for a little more — or, in the case of the Bronco Raptor, a lot more.

Like


  • Peppy twin-turbo V6


  • Over-the-top capability


  • Aggro looks

Don’t like


  • As wide as the road


  • Save some gas for the rest of us, bud

Three amber lights in the middle of the grille are all you need to see to know the Raptor is no ordinary Bronco. Those lights are required on vehicles of a certain width, and the Bronco Raptor’s body is about 10 inches wider than the standard SUV. It practically blots out the sun as it sails down the road, casting one seriously imposing shadow. Of course, that also means it’s practically the size of a highway lane, and even with standard lane-keep assist, it takes a conscious effort to keep one of those 37-inch BF Goodrich K02 all-terrain tires from dipping over the dashed white lines. Thankfully, when it’s time to park this brute, standard parking sensors and a surround-view camera make it easy to maneuver.

Despite its size, the Bronco Raptor is every bit as easy to drive on-road as its smaller siblings. The off-road-ready Fox shocks offer more than a foot of travel when it’s time to hit a jump or traverse some rocks, but it doesn’t make the Raptor bounce around carelessly on the highway. Even without switching the damping stiffness to Sport, the Raptor is nicely composed in daily driving, transferring only a few jostles from the road to the cabin. The steering weight is also adjustable, and while it’s generally pretty direct, I find it a bit too loosey-goosey in its most-boosted Comfort setting.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Is Built for Just About Everything

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The Raptor’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 provides a meaty 418 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, and combined with a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, I’m certainly not lacking for motive force. The Bronco may not have the full-fat output of the 450-hp F-150 Raptor, but the V6 offers more than enough power to blast past traffic and get up to speeds that leave me scrambling to remember what the tires are rated for. The V6 sounds great through a standard multimode exhaust, which I constantly leave in its loudest Baja setting, even though the dashboard screen constantly reminds me that it’s for off-road use only. (I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.)

Besides, a loud exhaust is a great reminder that I am absolutely destroying gasoline in the course of my enjoyment. The EPA rates the Ford Bronco Raptor at 15 mpg city and 16 mpg highway, numbers that I would certainly call possible, but if you’re like me and you enjoy noise and using more than 10% of the throttle, expect something lower.

Inside, the Bronco Raptor provides plenty of livability — and let’s be honest, it needs to, since a hefty chunk of these brutes will more often find themselves traversing asphalt than Appalachians. Ford’s comfortable marine-grade vinyl seats are standard, but my tester picks up $2,495 leather-trimmed replacements. Further zhuzhing up the cabin is a $1,725 carbon fiber trim pack, as well as the $2,695 Lux Package, which adds a heated steering wheel, a 10-speaker audio system, dashboard-mounted USB ports, wireless device charging, adaptive cruise control and embedded navigation.

Top of the line in utility sports.

Andrew Krok/CNET

But even without that upgrade, the Raptor offers plenty of standard equipment, including heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, keyless entry, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking. That massive 12-inch center display is also standard, running Ford’s Sync 4 system and carrying both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you do need some juice, both rows get a USB-A and USB-C port. There’s no sunroof on offer, but the removable hardtop panels take just a few seconds to detach and stow, and they’re not so heavy that you need a partner to tag-team the job.

In the event you’re one of those cool Bronco Raptor owners who lives to leave the beaten path, rest assured, this rig is mighty capable. That steel bash plate up front gives you a pretty good idea that the Raptor means business, and it also enables an impressive 47.2-degree approach angle (departure is 40.5 degrees, while breakover is 30.8 degrees). In addition to the foot of travel that the live-valve Fox shocks offer at each corner, the Raptor itself rests some 13.1 inches off the ground. Throw in a front sway bar disconnect, front and rear locking differentials and a two-range transfer case with a decent crawl ratio of 67.9:1, and you will have no problem scaling rocky inclines and digging deep into the mud. And, don’t forget, you’re sacrificing no or very little on-road prowess for all this capability.

The Bronco Raptor can also do a little bit of truck stuff if needed. It’ll tow up to 4,500 pounds, which is more than the average Bronco can muster. However, the Raptor’s payload rating of 1,100 pounds is a hair lower than its more pedestrian brethren. That’s fine, though, because if you take the roof panels off, it’s not like you’ll have much extra space in the cargo area anyway.

Twelve yards long, two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride.

Andrew Krok/CNET

All this capability and standard equipment comes at a price. The 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor starts at $70,095 including $1,595 for destination. Throw in the aforementioned creature-comfort packages, in addition to $1,075 for a cool Raptor graphic, $1,995 for 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels and $110 for the numerical keypad on the door, and my tester balloons to $80,190. That’s barely touching the starting price of the Jeep Wrangler 392, however, and while the Ford doesn’t have a V8, it drives better than the
Jeep
and it doesn’t look like the same old Wrangler you’ve seen on roads for decades.

If you want to have your dirt cake and eat it, too, there’s no better choice than the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor. It’s capable of handling the rough stuff, but when it’s time to kick back and live a more suburban lifestyle, it’s not going to disappoint.

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