Off-roading is one of the most fun activities you can do in a properly equipped pickup truck. In recent years, the big automakers have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that both their midsize and full-size truck offerings are fully decked out to handle off-roading. Chevy has put a lot of their eggs in the ZR2 basket for the Colorado and Silverado, while Ram has picked up a lot of positive press with the off-road TRX. Now, Ford is reinvigorating the midsize space with the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor.
However, not all off-road trucks are made equal, because not every truck is designed to handle every kind of off-road situation. There are many different kinds of off-roading disciplines, from fording and hillclimbs to mudding and dune runs. One very popular form of off-roading is rock crawling. You need a very specific kind of suspension, ground clearance, undercarriage protection, and powertrain configuration to get the most out of crawling over rocks in your 4X4. But here’s the big question: Is rock crawling possible with the all new, off-road ready 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor?
This article will explore some of the Ranger Raptor’s known features, what you can expect from them, and how viable it makes the midsize off-road truck when it comes to off-roading. We have some of the early specs on what to expect from the truck, as well as the sort of performance that will make rock crawling viable.
Rock Crawling With the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor’s Ecoboost V6
Rock crawling isn’t something that you do with just any old engine, because not every engine is fine-tuned to push a heavy, multi-ton truck over steep vertically inclined rocks. Too large, and your truck is front-heavy, making it too difficult to climb certain obstacles. Too small, and you don’t get enough torque to overcome those obstacles. Rock crawling is an intricate activity, and you need the right kind of setup to get the most out of your truck. That fine balance between weight and power becomes a key component to making the truck shine.
The 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor is powered by a 3.0L EcoBoost turbocharged V6. It delivers 405 horsepower at 430 lb-ft of torque, paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission. By comparison, it provides 30 more lb-ft of torque and 90 more horsepower than the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 on the standard Ranger, providing a lot more power essential for off-roading, especially when it comes to rock crawling.
Torque is an essential performance metric for rock crawling. In a 4X4 configuration, you need enough torque to put power to the wheels that touch the ground. When crawling up rocks, it’s not uncommon for only three wheels to have grip on a surface, or in some cases only two. In that instance, you need reliable differentials and a lot of torsional force through a reliable transfer case to get you over that hump. Thankfully the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 delivers in that area.
In fact, the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 provides more torque than any of the standard 2024 model year Jeep Wranglers. It’s just 40 lb-ft of torque shy of what the Wrangler 392 with the 6.4L Hemi Apache V8 delivers. Even if you want to compare the Ranger Raptor to Jeep’s midsize off-road truck, the Gladiator, it’s just shy of the Gladiator’s powertrain rating by 12 lb-ft of torque, so it’s in very close company with the top off-road vehicles in the segment. The Ranger Raptor also supports a crawl ratio of 67.88:1 with the available drive modes, so you can get a lot of torsional force to the wheels out of the 3.0-liter EcoBoost. The drive modes also include Baja, Slippery, Off-Road, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Normal, along with a dedicated Rock Crawl mode. In short, the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor has a powertrain configured to handle many of the off-roading tasks you could throw at it, including rock crawling.
A Suspension To Handle Heavy Crawls
Rock crawling requires a sturdy frame and a dependable suspension setup so that the shocks don’t fail, the control arms don’t snap, and the undercarriage doesn’t come falling down on top of pointed, jagged-edged rocks, damaging everything from the drivetrain to the axles. You need a reliable framework to rock-crawl, which Ford seems to have delivered with the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor. From the shocks and axles to the differentials, the Ranger Raptor appears to be one of the more heavy-duty midsize pickups in the segment.
The undercarriage is thoroughly protected by a high-strength skid plate that ensures the bottom of the vehicle doesn’t get beaten up or damaged while you move over objects off the beaten path. This is combined with the Watts-link rear suspension and trairing arms, along with locking front and rear differentials. In conjunction with the two-speed transfer case, you can get precision traction control out of the Raptor’s 4X4 system. What’s more is that you have up to 10.7-inches of ground clearance, along with the patented FOX live-valve shocks on every wheel for electronically controlled sensor-based dampening. In that regard, the suspension of the Ranger Raptor provides you with the kind of flexibility and travel to climb, arch, and crawl over rocks nimbly enough.
But suspension is only part of the equation. You also have to be able to scale over the rocks, and for that you need the angles to make travel possible. The 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor comes in clutch with an impressive approach angle of 33 degrees and a departure angle of 26.4 degrees. This is all done on 17-inch wheels packed into 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO3 tires. You can get good clearance on various types of rock crawling scenarios.
Rock Crawling Made Convenient With MyMode
Part of the off-roading experience in most vehicles is being able to view your surroundings, get your bearings, and make your decisions based on what you can see. For many newer off-road vehicles, this is done through the infotainment screen, usually a mix of the HD touchscreen and the digital driver display cluster. The 2024 Ranger Raptor makes use of both of these features for its off-road navigation functionality, which culminates in what Ford is calling MyMode.
You can select between a number of different off-roading driver preset profiles, which give you a great deal of flexibility in how you configure the truck’s performance for off-road use. You can alter exhaust, steering, and suspension settings through the MyMode feature, accessible through steering wheel controls, that displays via the instrumentation cluster. If you are keen on going rock crawling and want to change the settings to suit the needs of crawling up and over rocks, you can do so using these presets.
Typically, when off-roading, you want to see what’s around the truck. But when purposely scaling up steep inclines, knowing what’s coming in front of you and underneath you is vital to staying ahead of the challenges you face while off-road. The 2024 Ranger Raptor has the option to equip some nifty camera tech that allows you to get a full 360-degree view of the truck from the center console stack. You can also make use of the camera features in conjunction with Trail Control, letting you focus more on easily navigating through the off-road trails and rock crawling pathways thanks to the added driver assists.
More Than Ready For a Challenge
In short, the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor is more than ready to tackle off-road challenges like rock crawling. While it’s mostly being promoted for its dune-running thanks to its participation in the Baja 1000 event, the reality is that the 2024 Ranger Raptor is still versatile enough to tackle all sorts of off-roading tasks. The camera tech, the suspension, the powertrain, and the design all lend itself well for different kinds of off-roading disciplines, including rock crawling. As a mid-size off-road truck, Ford has put a great deal of work into making the Ranger Raptor a viable competitor within the market segment.