2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Review: Back Breakingly Good Off-Road
High-speed off-roading is what this machine was meant to do, and do damn well. Just a bit of advice: Have your chiropractor on speed dial.
It’s easy to look at the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor and write it off as another machomobile for deep-pocketed suburban dads who’ll never see a day of off-roading. After all, the regular Bronco has invaded upper-class neighborhoods with such force that kids in well-off high schools no longer want Jeep Wranglers for their 16th birthdays. They want Broncos now, daddy. And while the popular SUV is a charming accessory to drive to Starbucks, the Raptor is an off-road weapon whose performance is only limited by the bravery (or recklessness) of its driver.
Depending on what crew you run with, the Bronco Raptor can be a crowd magnet at the off-road park and local Top Golf alike. It rides on huge 37-inch tires that make it look enormous. It has loud graphics that say RAPTOR (just in case you forget) and the fender flares are wide enough to shame any aftermarket offering—or even a picnic table. And in the case of my tester, a metallic green paint that screams “Wednesday nights are for wearing Captain America undies and playing with G.I. Joes.”
The sooner you accept all of the above, however, the sooner you can begin to appreciate how good the Bronco Raptor really is. After a week of wheeling it around town and a full day off-road, I understood that beneath that flashy “America, Fuck Yeah!” appearance, is a high-performance machine that’s easily the most capable, street-legal, high-speed off-roader you can buy off a dealer lot.
2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Specs
- Base price, Raptor model (as tested) $70,095 ($75,770)
- Powertrain: 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 | 10-speed automatic | selectable four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case
- Horsepower: 418 @ 5,750 rpm
- Torque: 440 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
- Seating capacity: 5
- Curb weight: 5,731 pounds
- Cargo volume: 33.4 cubic feet
- Ground clearance: 13.1 inches
- Off-road angles (where applicable): 47.2° approach | 30.8° breakover | 40.5° departure
- Max ground clearance: 13.1 inches
- Towing capacity: 4,500 pounds
- EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city | 16 highway | 15 combined
- Quick take: An off-road weapon of the highest caliber, which explains why you'll mostly see it at the local Starbucks or Top Golf parking lots.
- Score: 8.5/10
The Bronco lineup has something for everyone. From the base model that rides on steelies to the retro-licious Heritage Edition and the mud-ready Everglades, you can have as little or as much equipment as you’d like. The Raptor trim towers above all, boasting more power, more attitude, and more capability. Unlike many of its stablemates, however, it only comes with four doors.
Any way you look at it, the Bronco Raptor is an obscene piece of machinery. It’s wide, it’s tall, it’s loud, and it doesn’t exactly fit in with other civilian vehicles. It has a shoutier presence than even a Ram 1500 TRX and while its fenders, off-road lights, and body armor are a bit on the tacky side, it doesn’t look or feel like an AutoZone Accessory special. There’s a sense of cohesiveness with the design that gives it a more refined look than a Jeep Wrangler.
It’s a similar story inside. My tester was equipped with the optional leather which made the cabin look and feel much better. The layout of the controls is well thought out and everything is where it should be, though that’s no surprise. The Ford F-150 has long offered one of the most practical cabins in the industry, and the Bronco’s paid attention. The 12-inch infotainment touchscreen works well and so does the digital gauge cluster. The steering wheel has a nice design to it and its buttons are nice and chunky, meaning they can be easily operated while wearing winter gloves. Having the window switches mounted near the center armrests is awful and takes some getting used to, though, but that’s the price to pay for removable doors.
Separating the Bronco Raptor from the rest of the Bronco lineup are two main components: the engine and suspension. While other trims make do with either a 2.3-liter inline-four or a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6, the Raptor employs a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 pumping out 418 horsepower—118 hp more than the 2.3-liter and 88 more than the 2.7. It pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission only (no manual option) and cranks out 440 lb-ft of torque. Managing 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels and 37-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain K02 tires is a complex suspension system worthy of a desert runner. The independent front suspension features active Fox Live Valve shocks offering 13 inches of travel.
Driving the Ford Bronco Raptor
Driving a Ford Bronco Raptor around town really isn’t much different than driving a Ferrari around town. In a Ferrari, you’re constantly speeding down every straight, hitting the apex on every bend, and reimagining every stretch of road as a race track. In the Bronco Raptor, you’re constantly overcome by a burning desire to veer off the road and cut across an empty field at 65 mph. Suddenly, smooth tarmac is just too boring. Why deal with boring when you’ve got tires and suspension capable of tearing through just about anything? That’s the Bronco Raptor effect.
I found myself peeking at the speedo every few seconds to see how fast I was going, though I couldn’t look for long because I was trying to keep the shiny side up. An off-road park proved to be the best place to test some of the SUV’s capabilities, and so far it was making me giggle like a little kid. Sure, someone with more off-road experience could’ve probably doubled my speed, but I was shocked by how easy it was to do 55 mph on a rutted dirt trail plagued with bathtub-sided potholes. Keeping me from burying my foot deeper into the footwell was my tailbone’s well-being and, I’ll admit it, fear. At that speed, you hit a rut the wrong way and you either blow the front end or barrel-roll the thing.
While the suspension was busy sorting out the bumps, the engine and transmission were working together beautifully to make the Bronco Raptor feel like a street-legal trophy truck. Through the dunes, the twin-turbo V6 just loves to rev and doesn’t force an upshift until you pull on the right paddle. In Baja mode, which turns off traction control and engages 4x4 high, the Bronco is a point-and-shoot off-road weapon that’s more tail-happy than a golden retriever staring at a fresh treat.
I could easily snake in and out of dunes while kicking up sand and leaving quarter-mile-long dust trails with ease. Laughing like a maniac while doing so also helps with tuning out the disappointing sound of the engine and exhaust. But who cares if it sounds like a strung-out economy car if it makes you feel like you’re racing in the Baja 1000.
The Highs and Lows
The Bronco is composed under most circumstances off-road, though it’s not exactly a perfect candidate for all types of off-roading. In tighter trails, usually the kinds in wooded, muddy areas, it’s just too wide and too long. Its approach and departure angles are fantastic, but there’s no hiding its footprint. This beast was made to run fast and run wild, not bother with narrow, complex trails. That’s what the Everglades trim is for.
While the ride quality is good on and off the road—and certainly better than a Jeep Wrangler—haulin’ off-road will beat the living daylights outta you. No matter how advanced the suspension, you’re still made out of flesh and bone and you’re going to be reminded of how in shape pro racers are—and how out of shape you are. Also, the Bronco is still primarily a toy with removable pieces, so there’s moderate wind and road noise in the cabin at highway speeds, the steering wheel can feel heavy (even in comfort mode), and visibility in all directions is poor—especially out the back. After spending an eight-hour day at the wheel, I found the seats to be slightly uncomfortable. A bit more padding in the bottom cushion would help. Lastly, I noticed quite a bit of mud and water leaking into the trunk while off-roading. Not ideal if you plan on using the trunk as, y'know, a trunk.
Ford Bronco Raptor Features, Options, and Competition
The Raptor is the most expensive the Bronco can get, so there aren’t many options left to check when ordering one. My tester featured nearly every item available, including package 373A, which adds the 12-inch touchscreen, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, heated front leather seats, a heated steering wheel, remote start, and Ford Co-Pilot 360. For an extra $2,300 buyers can get package 374A, which adds adaptive cruise control, a Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker sound system, evasive steering assist, and a wireless charging pad.
The test vehicle I drove was a 2022 model and cost $75,770 as tested. Currently, however, the 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor starts at $78,395, and a similarly equipped unit would go for $84,210. That’s a year-on-year price jump of nearly $8,500.
If I were to spec a Bronco Raptor for myself, I’d opt for the Hot Pepper Red exterior with a black leather interior. I’d retain the same 17-inch wheels and I’d also keep the Raptor sticker pack. Truth be told, I wouldn’t actually buy one of these, because I’d rather buy a side-by-side that I would feel less bad beating up off-road. But if I had to, that’s how I’d spec it.
The venerable Jeep Wrangler is the Bronco’s logical competition, especially its Rubicon 392 trim. Boasting a 470-hp Hemi V8, it beats the Bronco Raptor’s performance specs and costs right around the same when similarly equipped. Though a bit left-field, the Land Rover Defender is also a worthy competitor. Offering either a 395-hp inline-six engine or 518-hp V8, the Landie offers better on-road manners while also being formidably capable off-road. Its biggest downside? It’ll set you back six figures.
Fuel economy isn't exactly the Bronco Raptor's strong suit, but it certainly could be worse (see the competing Jeep). Rated at 15 mpg in the city, 16 mpg on the highway, and 15 mpg combined, what did you really expect from a truck the size of a Tokyo hotel room riding on tires big enough to go snow-tubing down a hill?
I just about nailed the advertised combined estimate tooling around town, but it all went out the damn window off-road. But, why bother? If you want fuel economy, go buy a Honda Civic. I've got one and it's great. I highly recommend it.
Value and Verdict
Would you take your $85,000 Ford Bronco Raptor and beat the living daylights out of it off-road? I wouldn’t. This isn’t a $500 Craiglist beater, this is a Baja-inspired SUV complete with a shimmery metallic paint job, heated steering wheel, a digital gauge cluster, 418 hp, and complex suspension capable of reading incoming terrain up to 500 times per second. Call me a hypocrite, but I’d have a really hard time justifying the abuse.
That being said, If you’ve got the means and the desire to buy one of these and put it through the wringer, do it. You’ll be rewarded with endless smiles, several oh-shit moments, and probably a few trips to the chiropractor. Because unless you call the King of the Hammers your side hustle, the Bronco Raptor is going to manhandle you and show you what top-level off-road performance feels like—and your body won’t like it.
Email the author at email@example.com