2023 Ford Bronco Raptor Is A Wild Horse With Razor Sharp Shoes - IMBOLDN
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The Ford Bronco was born to compete against Jeep. This is funny considering Ford built the first “Jeep” in 1940 before Willys, in time to be sent overseas to save Europe during World War II. But during the post-war days, the Jeep’s success in civilian life meant Ford would soon create a compact 4×4 competitor. I bring up the past because Jeep’s marketing team seems to dedicate a part of its budget to nostalgia. Why else would a new Wrangler Rubicon have Willys Jeep silhouette symbols hidden throughout the bodywork? The new 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor ups the ante in this multi-generation rivalry with 37-inch tires and 418 horses ready to stampede over any terrain. 

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

The “Braptor” Package 

The Bronco Raptor is available exclusively as a four-door body style and is a single trim level. Its drivetrain consists of a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6, producing 418 horsepower and 440 lb.-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission. As a result, this Bronco charges from zero to 60 in under 6 seconds while racking through gears like a belt-fed machine gun. 

Standard equipment includes a 4.7 axle ratio, rubberized flooring, Fox adaptive dampers, 12-volt outlets, and 37-inch BF Goodrich K02 all-terrain tires. Due to its performance upgrades, the Raptor-spec Bronco is reportedly 10 inches wider than the standard Bronco. Its 13.1 inches of ground clearance is also 4.8 inches more than standard. Lastly, the Bronco Raptor offers a towing rate of 4,500 pounds.

The instrument graphics for each selectable G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) mode are beautifully done and worthy of being displayed on a Forza Horizon loading screen.

The Velocity Blue Bronco Raptor shown came equipped with optional blue leather-trimmed seats with red seat belts and accents throughout the cabin. The first time I glanced inside, the interior reminded me of a superhero costume from a Marvel movie. However, if you plan on kicking up Earth with no doors or roof, I recommend the standard black marine-grade vinyl, which is easier to clean. 

The 10-speaker B&O audio system includes a subwoofer, but you can ditch it for a downgraded system with fewer speakers if you prefer to listen to nature instead. Moreover, it features the $1,995 optional 17-inch Dark Carbonized Gray Alloy painted Beadlock forged wheels. 

Ford Performance Showmanship 

One thing I’ll say about the Ford “Braptor” is its attention to detail when it comes to reminding you, and passengers, that this is no show pony. The instrument graphics for each selectable G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) mode are beautifully done and worthy of being displayed on a Forza Horizon loading screen. Moreover, the truck’s overall appearance checks off all the right boxes for a street-legal vehicle that looks like it’s one racing number and sponsor decal away from entering the Baja 1000 desert race. 

Flipping All-Terrain Tires 

One piece of advice (that will sound obvious to most) if you plan on buying a Ford Bronco Raptor is to invest in a quality hi-lift tire jack. During the road test, I experienced an air leak in one of the tires. Ironically this occurred on pavement and not off-road. A sharp piece of road debris punctured a tire creating an audible, anxiety-inducing air leak. 

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

After limping the truck home, which was 15 miles closer than the nearest tire shop, I got to work replacing the flat with the rear-mounted spare. The problem was I did not have a tire jack suitable for vehicles with high ground clearance. So, I had to use the equipment that came with the vehicle, which was a compact scissor jack found in most compact sedans. 

Raising the Bronco was one hurdle, but remounting the flat tire at the back was the most challenging. These massive 37-inch tires are large and heavy enough to strain the back muscles of most people. By the end of the ordeal, I felt like I had signed up for a CrossFit gym membership. Of course, a smarter person would have called AAA or equivalent roadside service, but when you have tools and prior knowledge at your disposal, it’s natural to think, “How hard can it be?” 

Flying Through the Dusty Trail 

The weather during my week in the Braptor was drier than toasted bread in the Sahara. No rain meant no mud to play in but plenty of dust to kick up. On the back road of rural Texas ranchland, I had the opportunity to live out a Baja racing fantasy using all 418 horses at will. The Bronco’s purpose-built suspension allowed for greater stability on high-speed runs on loose surfaces. Meanwhile, its balloon-bouncing tires made returning to Earth after catching air soft and exhilarating. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging and predictable the Bronco was at speed in varying terrain. It doesn’t give you that underlying anxiety of tipping over that other tall, boxy dimension vehicles tend to produce. I could send it with great confidence that I would stay the right side up even while going sideways. A good mark for Ford on successfully infusing F-150 Raptor’s captivating personality into the Bronco. 

Nobody’s Perfect 

As with people, movie sequels, and political agendas, nothing is perfect, especially automobiles. The 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor is a fantastic blend of off-road performance, curbside appeal, and family-hauling versatility. Granted, if you have children old enough to climb into the tall SUV. However, there are some drawbacks. Like, averaging 13 mpg over 540 miles, although the Braptor managed to squeeze 15 mph on the highway. Plus, the removable roof is vulnerable to creating intolerable wind noise if you damage the panels and don’t get an airtight seal.

But the biggest issue with the new Bronco Raptor, and one that all reviews of this truck seem to agree on, is the price.

But the biggest issue with the new Bronco Raptor, and one that all reviews of this truck seem to agree on, is the price. It starts at $86k and quickly reaches the six-figure threshold with options and dealer fees. That puts it out of many people’s budget if they want a fun, fast, and capable 4×4. This is a shame because the Ford brand, particularly here in Texas, is often seen as the go-to brand for the average consumer. Everyone who saw and rode inside the Ford Bronco Raptor absolutely loved it until they saw the price.