- Mar 27, 2003
- Myrtle Beach, SC
Full Bronco Raptor Towing Review | Maxxed Out
Since Ford released the specs for its insanely popular Bronco, one of the biggest sticking points for many has been the (to put it kindly) modest towing rating. 3,500 pounds for both the 2-Door and the 4-Door models (which is a bit odd considering the wheelbase differences) definitely left a bit to be desired for those who want to tow larger loads. Ford heard those concerns, and bestowed a 4,500 pound tow rating on the recently released Bronco Raptor. That higher rating is one of the main reasons we purchased one as a test vehicle for SVTP.
As soon as our order was confirmed we started shopping for an off-road capable camper that would fit with our goal of off-grid camping in relative comfort. We settled on a No-Boundaries 19.6. It had nearly all the features we were looking for (dual axles, decent shower, solar power, large bed, remote working stations, etc) and still came in under the BRaptors maximum tow rating. However, it would definitely be pushing the limits when loaded up.
Not a bad looking setup if I you ask me.
The BRaptor has fairly heavy duty running gear and definitely belies its mid-range 4,500 pound max, but there are a few necessary upgrades when you’re towing like we planned to. First, we had to add a trailer brake controller. Luckily for us, Ford already had a plug-and-play kit assembled for the Bronco. There was no guarantee it would function properly on the BRaptor, but we decided to pick one up from Lethal Performance and give it a shot. It functions perfectly. Our install was a bit unique, because of how I wanted it placed, so we didn’t shoot an install video. However; the controller, combined with the factory service brakes, can stop the Braptor and No-Bo safely and confidently. Consider it a must-have piece of equipment.
The next major piece of equipment on deck is a load leveling hitch. IMO, the single biggest factor limiting how well the BRaptor can handle weight is its relatively soft springs. This has been the case with Raptor models going all the way back to the Gen 1 F-150 Raptor models. A properly set up weight distributing hitch can significantly help with this by shifting tongue weight from the vehicle’s drive axle to the trailer axles. That’s one of the main reasons we wanted a dual axle camper, it was going to have to carry a bit more load than normal.
There are numerous options for hitch setups that would work for us, but we settled on a Blue-Ox rig with 800 pound trunnion mounted leaf springs. This model specifically:
We’ve used Blue Ox products in the past and have always been satisfied with their function and quality, and this one carried on that tradition. There are many different adjustments that can be made to the hitch in order to optimize it for the vehicle and trailer combo it will be used with, and it took me about three trips in order to really get it dialed in for the BRaptor and No-Bo.
With the camper loaded and the BRaptor hitched up we’ve spent the past several months traveling around the East Coast while taking time to stop and enjoy some of the best sites this great nation has to offer. The size and maneuverability of the rig has allowed us to snake into a spot at an NMRA race, climb to a secluded mountain top winery, visit awesome partners like National Parts Depot, and even squeeze into a tight space at a Lexington, KY brewery. With a setup like this the trip is really part of the destination. This vid will help explain what I mean:
I know you guys are wondering how the BRaptor handles towing something like this camper. Honestly, it’s pretty anticlimactic. The Bronco Raptor weighs nearly 3-tons and has the same track width as an F-150 Raptor; it feels firmly planted to the ground. I have never experienced any sway or road wandering with it while towing. The one sensation that I can mention, and this may be purely psychological, is that I feel that I can tell the factory rear coil springs are a little too soft for the weight we are towing. It may very well all be in my head, because I’m more used to towing with a stiff riding F-350. However, I’ve never experienced the spring bottoming out or ever feeling particularly squishy. It’s really just an overall sense that the rear suspension should be a hair firmer. I may actually just adjust the leaf springs a little more on the Blue Ox hitch. Perhaps that will alleviate my possibly irrational thoughts.
Performance-wise, the 3.0L EcoBoost is a beast of a little engine, and always has plenty of reserve power on tap. Just like any of the larger EcoBoost engines, the BRaptors Nano unit has a dead flat diesel-like torque curve that peaks way early in the RPM range. Though we have a JB4 device (courtesy of 5 Star Tuning) installed to increase power output, we turn it off when towing. The extra power isn’t really needed then, and it increases our engine’s safety margin when operating under a load.
The dog approves.
Speaking of safety margins, one thing that has helped us keep the 3.0’s torque production right where we want it on the highway is the Whipple Intercooler we installed at Pro-Dyno. The factor intercooler is kinda pathetic for a vehicle with the capabilities of the BRaptor. IMO, the Whipple unit is basically a necessary upgrade. It has kept our intake air temps in check, even while holding speed pulling grades on the Interstate through the mountains of West Virginia. To say its performance has been exemplary would almost be an understatement. It just flat-out works.
Not the best pic, but it was a great night's sleep.
We do run in Tow-Haul mode when hooked up, and that has worked out pretty well for us. It gets the 10r60 auto shifting pretty much exactly how I would want on the up-shifts, as well as the grade induced down-shifts. The one annoyance it does have is its attempt at down-shifting for grade-braking and slowing when coming to a stop. The 3.0L EcoBoost is simply too small of an engine to provide any real “Hold-back”. All you really end up with is a deep downshift and a screaming little engine. In my experience, I do a much smoother job than the ECU by controlling my own downshifts and applying a little trailer braking via the electronic trailer brake controller knob when necessary.
Maximizing towing capability may have not been a top priority for the Bronco Raptor’s engineering team, but they still managed to produce a vehicle that can do so competently without sacrificing its key performance attributes. The upgraded axles, suspension, and engine all work together to drag the No-Bo around with confidence. Having the ability to get to interesting places and stay a night or two is an awesome thing, and the BRaptor/Camper combo fits the bill for us. You’ll find us off the beaten path, with a propane powered fridge full of prime steaks and cold beer. Not a bad way to spend a few nights. Don’t be afraid to push your limits, you never know what Ford Powered adventures you may discover.
One of the best reasons to do a little camping.