We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to experience the Ford Ranger Raptor with both the V6 petrol and twin-turbodiesel powertrains and compare them back to back against the dramatic backdrop of Sa Pa in Vietnam, full of challenging mountainous terrain. Here’s what we came away with.
Only months have passed after the Ford Ranger Raptor with a petrol-powered, 3.0L turbocharged V6 engine was introduced to the Malaysian market for RM259,888, rocking the foundations with its lofty of output of 397PS and 583Nm of torque.
As a complement to that range-topper, the local launch of the 2.0L turbodiesel four-cylinder variant took place recently for RM248,888. Giving Malaysians two flavours of high-riding performance pickup truck, but separated by almost RM11,000. However, though it is worth mentioning that we drove the Thai-spec versions of the Raptors, their capabilities are identical.
The 2.0L variant offers an attractive alternative for off-roading enthusiasts who seek high performance and the long-legged fuel economy of a diesel. Meanwhile, the 3.0L V6 engine provides a noticeably different feel from under that bonnet, not to mention a sweet soundtrack.
The diesel clearly doesn’t have the lungs to keep up here but, as proven in the previous-generation Raptor, has ample torque and a character that seems to eager, even relentless, in its pulling capacity - it’s on-paper specifications of 210PS and 500Nm definitely do not tell the full story. There’s also a smoothness to the V6 that is beyond the diesel’s reach, if that’s a priority to you. The 10-speed automatic in both variants continue to be a superb shifter and we strongly recommend test driving them both to make your decision.
Visually, there are minimal differences between the Ranger Raptor 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel and its petrol counterpart with the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine. Their exterior flourishes are nearly identical, the only obvious exception to this are the exhaust outlets present on the 3.0L petrol variant. Similarly, inside the vehicle, the diesel Raptor features the same interior design as the 3.0L V6 petrol version, including the distinctive orange accents.
Occupants of both enjoy a clear, vertically-oriented 12-inch touchscreen display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, hooked up to an 8-speaker Bang & Olufsen speaker system (in the Malaysian-spec). This aside, we were hard-pressed to differentiate the cabin experience as both Raptors seem to check all the boxes when it came to a balance of interior plushness with more than a tinge of sportiness, as well as a bevy of technology features.
During the test drive in Sa Pa, we encountered plenty of challenging terrain that allowed us to assess the off-road capabilities of the Ranger Raptor. The diesel Raptor has a single limited-slip differential on the rear axle, while the petrol version has both front and rear LSDs. In all honesty, we barely felt either variant lacking any traction on loose surfaces, at least insofar as the short courses provided to us by Ford.
Away from the closed off-road course sessions, driving conditions were mostly low-speed, with tight, twisty hillside roads and occasional slow drives through town. We’d love to have the 3.0L V6 version on test to really stretch its legs on a wide, empty stretch of highway but it looks like we’ll have to wait on that.
The same could be broadly said about the chassis performance, which are a very close match between that of the petrol and diesel version. The 3.0L petrol Raptor features Live Valve 2.5-inch internal bypass units from Fox, which are able to adjust damping rates much more rapidly, while the diesel version does not have this Live Valve feature. During off-road courses in Vietnam, the Live Valve-equipped petrol variant demonstrated slightly better ride quality and body control than the diesel version.
In terms of off-road capability and the utility of a rear bed, both the petrol and diesel variants of the Ranger Raptor continues to cater to buyers who desire enhanced off-road performance, particularly at higher speeds, fancying themselves hopping across the dunes like the Dakar racers that inspired it. While the diesel variant has a slightly lower payload rating, it makes up for that with its sheer endurance per tank. You’re likely to get double the range on the 2.0L versus the 3.0L before needing to refuel.
Considering the RM248,888 asking price for the diesel-powered Ranger Raptor and the RM259,888 price for the petrol version, that RM11k gulf is ultimately a small one. Therefore, the choice between the two may well depend buyer preference and its intended usage. Those who prioritise speed and a tuneful engine note should opt for the 3.0L V6 petrol, while those who frequently drive on highways but still appreciate the Ranger Raptor's capable chassis should seriously consider the 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel, especially with slight its price advantage.
For this writer, the 3.0L V6 variant of the Ranger Raptor offers a wholly unique driving experience that cannot be matched by any other rival in the local market, essentially distilling the core appeal of the larger F-150 Raptor (which uses a 3.5-litre V6) into a more agile, manoeuvrable package that’s almost entirely as capable.
One could always argue against the logic spending north of RM200k on a pickup truck and all the connotations that might entails. Still, for the same amount of money, there are scarcely few options that blend the opposing attributes of utility and performance quite so deftly, or quite so brashly. That alone deserves to be celebrated.