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Ford reveals dune-jumping Bronco Raptor

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business

Ford just unveiled the Bronco Raptor, a high-performance version of its off-road Jeep Wrangler competitor. Based on desert racing trucks, this version has more power, bigger tires and taller suspension than a standard Bronco’s for bounding across sand dunes at “highway speeds,” according to Ford.

The Bronco Raptor is powered by a turbocharged V6 engine that Ford said was engineered specifically for this model. It will produce at least 400 horsepower, the automaker said, though exact power figures will be released later. The Bronco Raptor will have a 10-speed automatic transmission. Drivers can shift gears using steering wheel-mounted paddles, but no manual transmission option is being offered.

For added stability, the Bronco Raptor is 9.8 inches wider than a standard Bronco, with big black fender flares covering its wide off-road tires. It’s taller, too, with 4.8 inches more ground clearance than a standard Bronco, and it rides on 37-inch tall tires. Various mechanical components are bigger and stronger than on the standard Bronco to deal with more brutal treatment off-road, as well.

Heavy-duty metal plates underneath the body protect the engine, transmission and other parts from damage by rocks and boulders. The Bronco Raptor will be available only with the four-door body. The base Bronco is available with two doors.

In addition to the various driving modes available on other Broncos — modes that use computers to control things like gas pedal and steering wheel response and suspension stiffness — the Raptor has a specially tuned Baja Mode for high-speed driving in desert conditions. The seats are made from marine-grade vinyl and the Bronco Raptor’s rubber flooring is made to be easy to hose off.

The Bronco Raptor joins Ford’s other Raptor models, the popular Ford F-150 Raptor pickup and the smaller Ranger Raptor pickup, though the Ranger Raptor isn’t currently available in the United States.

Prices for the Bronco Raptor will start at around $70,000, or roughly double the price of a base model Ford Bronco 4-door. It will compete against hard-core, high-performance off-roaders like the 470-horsepower Jeep Wrangler 392.

Customers will be able to place orders for the Bronco Raptor starting in March but most of the order slots will be taken by people already on the waiting list for a Bronco. The SUV will start arriving on dealer lots in the summer, according to Ford.

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