The 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor is big and wide, but it’s the many little things that make it great. Little things like its fenders and wheels and turbos and ten-speed transmission — the point being that the Bronco is great in aggregate. But some of my (actually) favorite little things about the Bronco Raptor are the buttons and switches found inside and out of the beefy SUV, which make it a joy to pilot and establish a connection between the driver and this overgrown off-roader.
The famous Ford keypad is still here, for starters, but there are other honest-to-goodness buttons throughout the cabin of the Bronco Raptor. There’s a row of buttons over the center screen to toggle the sway bar disconnect, and front and rear lockers. There’s a rotary knob to select drivetrain settings, which is the selector for 4X4 settings, too. One-Pedal Driving is toggled on and off with the middle button on the rotary dial. Ah, buttons, everywhere. Switches. Toggles. It’s a beautiful thing! I love them almost as much as the high exhaust pipes.
Most of these have excellent feedback. You’ll know when you’ve pressed one.
Again, the Bronco Raptor thankfully keeps the keypad alive, and I can’t fully express how happy I am that these buttons are still here. Our resident Ford Explorer fanboy, Andy Kalmowitz, says this number pad is extremely useful even in the age of keyless entry and startup. Imagine losing your keys somewhere on a trail and being unable to get into the Bronco Raptor because there’s no bluetooth authentication or transponder to unlock the door.
I love the number pad because it’s the polar opposite of lock screens on all modern pocket computers: iPhones and Android smartphones, tablets, or really anything with a touchscreen is a woeful attempt to recreate a number pad.
Other functional touches include the tie-downs on the hood, which I went into detail in our Bronco First Drive and review; these helped me place the Bronco Raptor on the road. Ford insists the hood side slits are functional, too. Fine, I guess. But there are less functional things found here and there.
A small metal badge is just off to the side of the gear lever. The metal plaque shows the front grill of a Bronco Raptor complete with embossed letters that read FORD, and below that, it says Ford Performance. It’s a small Easter egg that nods to the provenance of the Bronco Raptor, and less functional than the other design touches, but it’s alright.
I love Easter eggs as much as the next guy, but functional touches are better. What use to me is a size chart comparing a paleontologist, Tyrannosaur and Velociraptor (what, no Deinonychus or Utahraptor?) other than for a laugh? No, I want functional details, like the row of auxiliary switches in the Bronco.
The switches in the test Broncos we drove toggled the off-road lights. We used these often bombing down Johnson Valley — to cut through the dense clouds of dust the Bronco Raptors kicked up. It just feels so good to flick these switches! You really do feel like an Ultra4 driver, about to race down a gnarly trail.
Of course, the Bronco Raptor still has that huge touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard. The light-colored interface on the screen is mostly easy to read even in the desert, but I’m grateful that many important functions are operated by buttons or dials. No need to futz with a screen. Damn touchscreens, robbing us of tactility. A slider on a screen will never, ever beat a row of switches.