The Ford Bronco Raptor made it to the final round of the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023 competition because it’s one of the most outrageously fun vehicles money can buy. It’s so much fun that we can’t balk at the $69,995 sticker price, which almost seems affordable these days.
Editorial Director Marty Padgett found the Ford Bronco Raptor—which we call Braptor around here—fun when the pavement ends, saying it bedevils the dust and terrorizes all terrain. He’s right.
The Braptor looks like an adult Tonka truck, with boxy lines, a wide stance, and ridiculous fender flares. Those flares are necessary to cover the long-travel Fox remote reservoir dampers and 37-inch BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tires. The Braptor’s stance is 8.6 inches wider than a standard Bronco’s, making it more than seven feet wide. It’s as wide as the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup, and nearly the width of an average parking spot. The width means that, like a semi or heavy-duty pickup, it needs marker lights to meet federal regulations. Combine those with the factory-installed Rigid fog and driving lights and the Braptor looks terrifying in a rearview mirror at night.
With 13.0 inches of ground clearance, and 13.0 inches of front- and 14.0 inches of rear suspension travel, the Braptor can roll over just about anything in its path. It’s too tall for the assembly line, speed bumps and curbs don’t phase it, and it tempts drivers to turn everyday obstacles like train tracks into jumps.
Inside, the Braptor is fully loaded with the Bronco’s familiar 12.0-inch touchscreen, hard buttons and knobs for climate control functions, and a large drivetrain mode-selector dial. But Braptors take things a step further than any other Bronco with a 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster and thickly bolstered Recaro front seats that can be optioned in blue. Yes, the doors and top still come off for that open-air experience.
Under the hood sits a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 418 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. That transmission is the highlight of the powertrain thanks to quick, clean shifts that are executed so perfectly in Sport and Baja modes that they wouldn’t be out of place in a sports car.
But the Braptor isn’t perfect or for everyone.
That width can be a pain in parking lots, a parking garage, or even a home garage.
Its over-the-top look appeals to your inner bro, and that’s not the life choice all people are willing to make.
It’s also down two cylinders compared to the competition. While it’s quick enough, it doesn’t throw you back in your-seat like the V-8-powered Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. At 5,733 pounds, it doesn’t even rip off the line like the two-door Bronco Wildtrak, which has a smaller 330-hp turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 but weighs about 1,000 pounds less.
Will the Braptor’s off-road fun factor be enough for it to win over three hot hatches, a luxury EV, a sport sedan, and the successful return of an iconic nameplate? Will the Ford Bronco Raptor be named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023? Check back on Jan. 4 when we reveal the winner, along with champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.
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