On paper, these two Ford trucks offer much the same package, but in practice they are chalk and cheese, says Dan Gilkes
The market for ever-higher specification pick-ups seems to show little sign of diminishing and Ford seems equally happy to supply buyers with an ever-wider range of options. When a Ranger Wildtrak simply isn’t exclusive enough, you have two options, the Stormtrak special edition, or a Raptor, now in SE trim.
Both of these trucks use Ford’s bi-turbo 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, in range-topping 213hp form, with 500Nm of torque. This drives through a 10-speed automatic transmission, with manual changing controlled through a thumb switch on the lever head in the Stormtrak and through full paddles in the Raptor.
Despite the identical output, the Raptor feels considerably swifter than the Stormtrak, possibly due to the difference in gearing from the larger tyre/smaller wheel combination. Surprisingly, both in terms of acceleration and when cruising, the taller model delivers the better driving experience.
Load carrying capacity
One of the reasons that we have shied away from testing the Raptor before, is that it was developed as much for its off-road performance as its on-road presence. This was achieved by dumping the standard truck’s leaf springs, for special racing springs and dampers.
The downside of this move was a drop in carrying capacity, to just 620kg, versus the 1-tonne plus that is possible in the Stormtrak. That means that you can’t reclaim the VAT on the Raptor model, making its hefty £55,000 price tag even harder for a business user to swallow.
Likewise, the trailer capacity of the high-riding truck drops from 3.5-tonnes in the Stormtrak, down to 2.5-tonnes.
In the cab
Unsurprisingly, both come with pretty much everything thrown at the cab interior. Heated leather seating, with individual model trim and twin-zone climate control are just the starting points. Throw in Ford’s SYNC3 navigation and infotainment system, reversing cameras and sensors and a host of ADAS driver assistance systems and you have a very comfortable driving environment.
On the road
As mentioned, the Raptor suspension has been designed to allow the truck to float across rutted off-road terrain. However, those softer, high-riding springs also make on-road driving much more comfortable. The Raptor really is all-day luxurious on the road.
That’s not to say that the Stormtrak is not, it too provides a very comfortable driving experience, just one that is much the same as other, less expensive models in the Ranger line-up.
While the Ranger Stormtrak was everything that we thought it would be, the Ranger Raptor SE was far more than expected. I drove the big truck from Suffolk to the other side of Brussels and back and would happily do so again tomorrow.
On paper and by any sensible business metric, the Stormtrak is the more obvious purchase, thanks mainly to its VAT-reclaimable 1.0-tonne payload and 3.5-tonne towing capacity. Yet, you can get 95% of the same truck in Wildtrak or even Limited trim, for considerably less outlay.
If the VAT issue is not your primary concern and you have no need to be fully laden all the time, the Raptor SE makes a surprisingly strong case for itself. It could just be the best pick-up we’ve driven in a very long time.
Van User Rating – 4.5