March 16, 2020 By Paolo de Borja Photos by the author and Ford

Driving the Ranger Raptor in the Sand Dunes, Mountains of Vietnam

A Fierce Conqueror

Vietnam is a beautiful country with a colorful history and a proud culture. From the scenic landscapes of its provinces to the marvelous French-influenced architecture in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that’s accompanied by a rich food scene, it’s easy to see why this Southeast Asian nation has become one of the most popular destinations for travelers from across the globe.

Fueled by strong, thick Vietnamese coffee and ecstatic for the off-road adventure ahead, I joined a caravan of Filipino journalists and headed to Vietnam with the Ford Motor Company to dance and play with the imposing Ranger Raptor supertruck in the magnificent mountains of Dalat and vast sand dunes of Mui Ne.

A 300-km drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the city of Dalat is a popular vacation spot among Vietnamese for its valleys, temperate weather, and pine trees – much like how Baguio City is for us Filipinos. It also served as our first official stop for the Ranger Raptor adventure in Vietnam. Just a 19-km from our hotel in Dalat is Doi Co Hong where we got the chance to test the Raptor’s updated Terrain Management System (TMS) and its six modes in a total of seven off-road stations.

On-road modes for the Raptor include Normal and Sport, which came in handy in the twisty mountain roads. Hill Descent Control was engaged for the first station as it required  to be carefully but confidently brought down from the top of a hill. For the duration of this section, electronics did the trick while my right foot was simply hovering above the brake pedal. The system continually adjusts braking pressure to help control slippage and maintain a constant preset speed.

The Raptor then flexed its 4×4 expertise along an up-and-down, 45-degree, and slippery coarse path that called for 4-Low and the rear differential lock to be turned on. Further down the trail, two rocky stations also employed the Raptor to turn on the rear differential lock but now accompanied by Rock Mode for smoother controllability. It was in these stations where I witnessed the pickup maneuver on rugged, uneven terrain with only three wheels on the ground at times.

At Station 5, I got a preview of what was to come at Mui Ne as I engaged Baja Mode for a short stint of high-speed, dusty ecstasy. The Raptor’s focal point, whether for gearheads or regular consumers, are its Fox shocks – and boy was it crafty at high-speeds. And on a different note, many have questioned the Raptor’s identity as a pure pickup, but no other truck in the market even comes close to how agile and lively it feels to drive in open, rugged territory. The Ranger Raptor is simply on a level of its own.

With steep downhill paths and rocky terrain conquered, it was time to engage Gravel Mode to get back up to base camp. This mode is designed to inspire confident driving on uneven roads with a little bit of speed through smoother gear shifts to minimize wheel slip. The trails I encountered were no joke. But as a rookie on the off-road stage, the TMS, along with guides situated in different stations, sure made it a lot easier for me to navigate the Raptor and learn on-the-fly.

A total of four hours was spent at Doi Co Hong to study and exercise for ourselves the trails and the off-road capabilities Raptor before heading back to the hotel to rest up for the highlight of the trip – the sand dunes of Mui Ne.

The next morning, we departed Dalat for a 205-kilometer, 5-hour drive to Mui Ne. Yhe drive provided a good opportunity to try out the Ranger Raptor’s new driver assistance technology in a mix of city, highway, and twisty roads. The Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection and Vehicle Detection was particularly helpful with motorcycles as we made our way out of the city. And while I’m on the topic of new features, the Ranger now has a high-mount USB for a more seamless installation of a dashcam. Sure, the inclusion doesn’t sound so breathtaking but a high-mount USB clears the windshield of obstruction caused by dash cams’ cables.

On the expressway, the new Lane Keeping System was a welcome addition as we cruised with our favorite Spotify playlists and posed for the camera crew riding an Everest. It was in the second part of the drive to Mui Ne when I really took in the genius of the Fox suspension system. The drive brought us to kilometers of open but jagged provincial roads. Of course, we had to keep the pace of the lead car. And trust me when I say he didn’t hold back in attacking pot holes that would have been kind to regular vehicles at speeds we traveled in. The Raptor remained agile and stable as I maintained speeds of at least 80 km/h.

As we got past the rough roads, we started seeing a dazzling landscape– sandy open fields from left to right, along with bare hills sitting beside a lake. We knew were approaching Mui Ne.

Who knew there’d be sand dunes in Vietnam? I certainly did not. When I think of dunes, it’s usually the Sahara or Erg Chebbi that come to mind. And in this sandy haven, the Ranger Raptor felt right at home. With Ranger Raptor’s 2.0-liter Bi-Turbo diesel engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, and a long-travel Fox shock absorber system at my disposal, I departed from the starting point with a driving instructor for the most awaited segment of the whole trip. I put the supertruck on 4-High and engaged Sand Mode before trying out Baja when I gained a bit more confidence. Sure, some knowledge on how to maneuver a vehicle on deep and loose sand were imperative for the activity. But the Raptor sure made it easier for off-road newbies like yours truly.

The truck’s off-road capabilities were in full-effect as I tangoed with it on the varying surfaces – hilly and somewhat flat – of the wild desert. Utmost momentum was required to make our way atop of the hills. There was some exciting sliding involved as I reached higher speeds, but I was able to easily correct it – impressive for a high pickup truck. A profound connection between the Raptor and the terrain was witnessed.

The 2020 Ford Ranger Raptor is on top of the food chain when it comes to high-performance trucks in the region. Its ability to jump and travel high speeds on sand, mud, and gravel is incomparable. On rocky terrain, the Raptor crawls with confidence thanks to the combined effort of its off-road technologies. The Ranger Raptor has been a popular gem to the eyes of many since its launch, and this latest adventure with the high-performance truck in Vietnam emphasizes its excellence.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1996 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16v
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled Twin-Turbodiesel
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 211 bhp @ 3750 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 369 lb-ft @ 1750-2000 rpm
Transmission 10-Speed AT

Performance

Top Speed 170 km/h (106 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 9.7 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 kms.) City / 32 mpg (7.5 l/100 kms.) Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,998,000.00
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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