After plenty of speculation and spy shots – plus a healthy dose of rumor – Ford has whipped the sheets off what they’re calling the most powerful street-legal Bronco ever to roll out of a Blue Oval factory. Shod with FOX shocks which permit yawning wheel travel, 37-inch all-terrain tires, and heavy-duty bask plates, this thing is ready to jump a few dunes and tear across wide-open spaces.
Under the hood is an engine not currently found in any factory Bronco – and it isn’t the mill your author thought would be residing between these flared Raptor fenders.
Ford decided to pluck the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 from its corporate cupboard for this application, an engine currently seeing limited use in a few Lincoln products and the Explorer ST with a 10-speed automatic. Ford is aiming for ‘at least’ 400 horsepower, a sum which would represent a nearly 100 pony increase over the existing top dog which is a 2.7L EcoBoost V6. Torque is under wraps for now, though it’s worth noting this engine makes 415 lb-ft in the Explorer ST and the non-Raptor V6 Bronco tops out at 400 lb-ft of twist. Blue Oval marketers will surely point out that horsepower is what you want for high-speed desert running anyway, and they have a point. An active-valve exhaust and near-equal length headers should improve its sound compared to other applications.
So why did Ford tap the scarcely-used 3.0L EcoBoost and not the popular 3.5L EcoBoost found in the F-150? Size likely has something to do with it, since full-frontal photos of these mills show the latter with a lot more girth than the engine which will be pressed into Bronco Raptor duty. Also – and here’s one to file away for future reference – Ford offers this 3.0L as a plug-in hybrid in the Lincoln Aviator. That thing belts out a mighty near-500 horsepower and 630lb-ft of torque; such a setup would simultaneously bring the goods to both the Wrangler 392 V8 (470/470) and the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid (375 hp/470 lb-ft).
But back to the Bronco Raptor. Underneath, we find all manner of off-road goodies. New shock towers compared provide room for more wheel travel than a standard Bronco (13 inches front, 14 rear) while extra body reinforcements in the B- and C-pillar areas reportedly give the thing about a 50 percent boost in torsional rigidity. The rear axle has been swapped out for a Bronco DR race-truck-inspired semi-float Dana 50 while the independent front assembly uses a Dana 44 drive unit. There are lockers at both ends. Interestingly, the 44 is available in the aftermarket through Spicer Products who describe it as “the ultimate upgrade for extreme off-roading” for your Bronco.
Suspenders have been developed with FOX, who’ve been lending their talents to F-150 Raptor development for years. Here, we find Live Valve technology with position-sensitive damping and internal bypasses which are uniquely tuned at the front and rear. There are integrated shock reservoirs in front but remote reservoirs out back. Minimum ground clearance is 13.1 inches (up from 11.5 on Wildtrak), with approach and departure angles set at 47.2 and 40.5 degrees, respectively. Water fording is good for an inch over three feet. For comparison, the new F-150 Raptor on 37’s has a 33.1-degree approach and 24.9-degree departure angle with a ground clearance equal to the Bronco Raptor’s. Meanwhile, a Wrangler Rubicon equipped with the Xtreme Recon Package has angles of 47.4 and 40.4 front and rear with 12.9 inches of clearance. Let the games begin.
If this Bronco looks wide, that’s because it is. In fact, it is 9.8 inches wider than a base Bronco four-door, checking in at a massive 85.7 inches. That explains the clearance marker lights and any inevitable Arizona pinstriping. Curb weight is 5,733 pounds which are about 800 more than a fully kitted Wildtrak model. There will be plenty of orange-hued addenda inside the new Raptor, along with a few trim options including an entertaining Rhapsody Blue. We spy new a natty new gauge cluster ripped from top-trim F-150 pickups, plus paddle shifters and the dandy 12-inch infotainment screen.
Customers can begin placing orders in March, with vehicles expected to begin arriving this summer. You’ll have a leg up on getting one if you already have an existing Bronco reservation, apparently. We’re looking forward to having a go later this year.
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