Behind the Wheel

2023 Ford Bronco Raptor Edition — Most Powerful Street-Legal Bronco Ever

2022 Ford Bronco RaptorModel tested: 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor

Engine: 3-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Horsepower: 418

Torque: 440 lb.-ft.

EPA ratings: 15/city, 16/highway, 15/combined

Base price: $68,500

As tested: $74,425

Overview: The Ford Bronco is one stellar off-road SUV, with a unique look and tons of model choices. It’s also one of the best off-roaders on the market, unabashedly challenging the legendary Jeep Wrangler. The Bronco offers two body styles, three engine options and 10 trim levels — including a pair of retro-styled Heritage editions. Our test driver was the new Bronco Raptor and this review will primarily focus on that model.

Walkaround: The exterior design of the Ford Bronco is both practical and stylish, boasting a boxy shape and a distinct front end paying tribute to the original 1960s-era Bronco. It offers a choice of two-door or four-door models, both of which, like the Jeep, come with removable doors and roof. The Raptor, however, only comes with four doors. Being 9.8 inches wider than the base Bronco four-door, the Raptor delivers more confident high-speed cornering, epitomizing Ford’s extreme Built Wild design that offers race-inspired features inside and out, plus signature Raptor badging. The Raptor’s HOSS 4.0 race-ready suspension system is fully boxed, utilizing a high-strength steel frame, with standard 37-inch all-terrain tires.

2022 Ford Bronco RaptorInterior: The Bronco interior perfectly matches its personality — rugged and practical. Getting dirty when the top and the doors are off is no problem thanks to the rubberized floor and available drain plugs. This is a cabin designed for durability.

The four-door Raptor seats five, with spaciously comfortable front seats. Although rugged, this off-roader still features modern technology, including Ford’s user-friendly and feature-laden SYNC 4 infotainment system that includes satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus more, all standard. The cargo space is decent and it’s available with an integrated MOLLE panel system.

Behind the wheel: Besides being an amazing off-roader, one of the Bronco’s surprising strengths is how much more comfortable and responsive it is around town than the Jeep Wrangler. Both feature robust, body-on-frame construction; however, driving the Bronco is definitely more comfortable and less truck-like than the Wrangler. When the pavement ends, the aggressive Raptor shines. With standard four-wheel drive, 10-speed automatic and body-on-frame construction offering favorable approach, departure and breakover angles, every Bronco is an excellent off-roader thanks to its terrain-management system with G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) modes. Select the right mode for the terrain you’re on, and the Bronco optimizes things like shift points, steering and throttle mapping for the best experience. The Raptor’s turbocharged 3-liter V6 is more than the standard powerplant upgrade; it delivers 418 spirited horses with a true dual-exhaust system with active-valve technology that allows the driver to choose among four selectable exhaust notes — normal, sport, quiet and Baja. Plus, it’s extremely fast.

Bottom line: Does the Ford Bronco Raptor pose a legitimate challenge to the Jeep Wrangler’s decades-long off-road dominance? Absolutely — in every way — plus it’s more comfortable on the highway. Is there a new sheriff patrolling the off-road hinderlands? Could be…