Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: final verdict

  • High-performance off-road pickup living the family life on Parkers
  • Find out what the Ranger Raptor is like to live with as a daily driver
  • We say our final goodbyes to this remarkable machine

Long-term test review of the Ford Ranger Raptor.

Final report: Our long-term test verdict on the Ford Ranger Raptor

The time has finally come to wave goodbye to our Ranger Raptor. And I do mean finally, since it ended up staying with us longer than expected – in fact, although the replacement is here, it’s not the replacement we were originally expecting. Such is life in the post-pandemic world, where supply issues and other problems continue to play havoc with new vehicle availability. First world problems, and all that.

Anyway. Back to the Raptor. What an amazing piece of work this truck really is. Easy to drive, amazingly comfortable – and not just for a pickup – and blessed with more road presence than anything short of six-figure supercars. It has been a truly brilliant companion for the last 19 months or so.

We’ve covered nearly 20,000 miles together, including two lengthy trips into Europe, bouts of towing and some modest off-roading – so modest that in comparison to this truck’s capabilities it’s almost not worth mentioning. The Raptor’s been on family holidays with the load bed stuffed to the brim, it’s rescued classic cars, and even carried questionably large bales of hay.

Above all else, the Raptor has impressed everyone that’s come into contact with it directly – though no doubt there remain many who will continue to criticise such things from a distance (I’ll come on to why they might have a point or two in a minute).

Fair to say we’ve treated it more like a family car and lifestyle accessory than a working vehicle – but if it was a working pickup we’d wanted, a much lower-spec Ranger would have done. They are all extremely good machines these days, though none of the others have coil-sprung rear suspension, long-travel shock absorbers and so many other modifications.

The timing of our goodbye is also a nice segue into the arrival of the next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor, which has now been revealed in all its glory ahead of going on sale later in 2022. Parkers is yet to drive the new model, but it’s obvious from the outset that it lacks some of this example’s visual punch but also fixes one of its most glaring issues…

It can’t all have been good?

Fundamentally, yes it can. Nothing went wrong, almost every journey was a joy (the occasional confrontation with your more compact car park aside), the kiddo loved travelling in it and having a load space you can just chuck stuff in without worrying about the subsequent state of the carpet is pretty revolutionary once you get used to the idea that load space may also not be entirely waterproof.

The Ford dealer service was fine – not the cheapest at over £300, but my customer satisfaction remained high, given the quality video assessment I received of the vehicle’s condition. The need to replace the windscreen due to an almighty stone chip can hardly be held against the Raptor itself, even if shortly before it went back we suffered the same thing again, that’s just in the nature of machines like this with upright windscreens.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test - verdict, rear, wet, caravan park

I therefore have only two reservations about 100% recommending this truck, and the first is probably not an issue for most people. The 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet may well have 213hp and twin turbos, but my initial impressions from the original Raptor launch in Morocco remain intact – it just isn’t gutsy enough for a pickup that looks like this. I want more power. And Ford has totally delivered with the next-generation version, as that’s available with a 288hp twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol.

Although this new motor’s 491Nm doesn’t quite measure up to the old one’s 500Nm – and probably won’t help with my second reservation – I am utterly convinced it will be more fun. Not that the 2.0-litre diesel isn’t fun exactly, it just never felt that quick or particularly special.

As for that second issue, well, in today’s climate (no pun intended) driving around in a giant pickup truck that returned not quite 26mpg during the 19,000 miles it covered with us feels just a little bit uncomfortable. I realise that makes no sense whatsoever alongside my call for more performance, but it’s as if you’re compromised on both fronts here. Not that any current pickup is particularly fuel efficient.

That said, as I reported last time, there have already been improvements to the Raptor’s fuel economy thanks to a change of suppliers for later examples. Amazing what a difference even such a seemingly small change can make.

What about the cost of it?

Not a cheap vehicle by any means – since it doesn’t qualify as a light commercial due to is mere 600kg payload, you have to pay car tax levels and new buyers are unable to claim the VAT back on the £50k asking price.

Yet given the extensive amount of modification versus a standard Ranger, plus the quality of the interior – which manages to be hardwearing while also feeling bespoke and rather special (details include magnesium paddleshifters and the ceramic-style finish on various trim elements) – it certainly never seemed like poor value.

I should think the vast majority of owners are extremely satisfied with what they’re getting in exchange for their money. It’s one of the vehicles that seems less like a mode of transport and more like a member of the family.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test - verdict, front, car park concrete jungle

My only other running expense was the regular top-ups of AdBlue essential for the emissions control systems to keep functioning. A lot of short urban journeys made my consumption of this probably worse than it could have been, but I never begrudged putting the stuff in.

Don’t ignore the on-board computer when it tells you it’s doing a diesel particulate filter cleaning process, though. Best to take the Raptor for a run there and then, otherwise you risk a clogged DPF and a bunch of error messages. Go on, guess how I know… Fortunately, the FordPass Pro app will see you right, and a decent blast up and down the A14 sorted that minor self-inflicted stumble right out.

So would you recommend the Ford Ranger Raptor?

Absolutely. This is a great example of Ford once again creating something extraordinary out of an everyday hero. If you’re after a vehicle than can very nearly do it all – and instantly transform boring journeys into an adventure without compromising on comfort then you could do far, far worse than the Raptor. My daughter keeps asking when it’s coming back – and I know exactly how she feels.

EA20 EGC, you are already sorely missed.

Total miles: 19,721
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual lifetime real world fuel economy: 25.97mpg


Report 14: Raptor vs the Special Edition

As you’ll probably have seen, our generation of Ranger Raptor is set to be replaced by a brand new model before the end of 2022. But this still gives us time to squeeze in one more comparison test – this time against the Special Edition model that Ford launch in 2021.

The Special Edition upgrades are all styling choices. For a little extra money – at time of writing it’s £44,250 for the standard Raptor, £45,000 for the Raptor Special Edition – you get a set of black and red decals for the exterior, red-painted towing eyes, and red stitching on the inside in place of the blue stitching regular Raptors come with.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: Raptor Special Edition front view

I could leave the decals, frankly, though they work rather better on this white example than the blue Special Editions I’ve seen in person previously. But the red stitching on the inside is perfectly agreeable. Better matching to the centre-point marker on the steering wheel, for starters.

Wait – there’s more

The real purpose for getting the Special Edition in for a week, however, came following some intel I received about a change of tyre supplier for the Raptor model.

Our long-term test vehicle is fitted with the originally specified BF Goodrich rubber, but Ford has now switched to General Grabber AT3 tyres, a functionally similar all-terrain tyre that happens to be produced nearer to the factory that assembles the Raptor. The change, I’m told, was a supply chain decision.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: Raptor Special Edition with General Grabber AT3 tyres

The reason I’m interested, though, is that I have heard Raptors equipped with the new tyres are much more fuel efficient on-road. And since the fuel economy is by far the least-likeable aspect of running a Raptor, this sounds like very good news indeed.

At the same time, it’s a great opportunity to compare our 18,000-mile-old Raptor with a much fresher example.

Is the Raptor not aging well, then?

I didn’t say that. But I had been wondering whether the gearbox was getting clunkier – these 10-speed automatics have occasionally been reported as troublesome when worked particularly hard.

I don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about. The Raptor Special Edition arrived with just over 1,800 miles on the clock and a gearbox that behaved in exactly the same way. The transmission is just a little rough-edged at times in these Rangers, it seems.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: Raptor Special Edition red stitching on gear selector and handbrake

What’s more, comparing the two trucks there are no other obvious wear-points on the long-termer, either. The interior is still in excellent shape, and although the red stitching in the Raptor SE is smart, the blue stitching in the original is lovely as well.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: Raptor Special Edition rubber floor mats

The Special Edition did arrive with a set of rubber floor mats. Which is probably a good choice if you intend to make the most of the Raptor’s off-road capability. The fabric mats seem to have faired perfectly well, even so.

Do the tyres make a difference to the fuel economy?

When queried, the Ford press office assured me that there have been no other engineering changes to the Raptor since it was launched, so the answer to this is unquestionably yes.

The first clue to this came from the trip computer when the Raptor SE was dropped off – it was showing a full tank range of over 500 miles. The long-term Raptor rarely indicates over 400 miles per tank, and if it’s mostly been plodding around town it’s more likely to show a 380-mile range. A positive start, but not something to take on face value, so I brimmed the tank and went driving.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: Raptor Special Edition rear view

Over a very mixed test route doing the kind of driving that would have seen the long-termer achieve 23mpg at best, the Special Edition managed a real-world 28.13mpg. With a more sympathetic right foot and / or more constant cruising – such as a lengthy motorway trip – I’m confident this Raptor would easily and consistently climb into the 30s.

Certainly if you take the lifetime mpg of our long-termer, which is just under 26mpg, and add the increase in efficiency the newer tyres appear to offer, I’d expect to see an overall average of around 31mpg. That’s an improvement of nearly 20%.

Any downsides?

Well, without a long-term back-to-back test I can’t speak for the comparative tyre wear, and I didn’t get the chance to try the new tyres off-road. But I wouldn’t expect any issues there.

Finally, to be clear, the new tyres are fitted to all more recent Raptors, not just the Special Edition models. A significant upgrade as far as I can see.

Miles so far: 18,726
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 26.3mpg


Report 13: Belgium bound for another brilliant long-distance jaunt

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - at the Atomium in Brussels, front view

It’s astounding, the freedoms you take for granted until they’re gone. Covid-19 has surely taught all of us that – though the lesson is apparently on-going, as I’m writing this shortly after France has banned UK visitors due to fears surrounding the latest Omicron variant. Once again, however, my friend Keith and I managed to take advantage of European travel while it was still available, and send the Raptor through the tunnel, onto the Continent.

That’s not to say Covid wasn’t a factor in our trip, which took place a few weeks back (such is the scheduling of this kind of report). In previous years, we’ve been away longer, but on finding that one of our planned destinations this year – a former submarine base in southern France – has currently been repurposed as a vaccination centre, we decided on a quick overnight dash to Belgium instead.

Amazing what you find on Google Earth

Scrolling about on Google Earth, trying to find a nearer destination, said Keith was stopped in his digital tracks by a strange structure in Brussels. Turns out neither of us had previously heard of the Atomium.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - at the Atomium in Brussels, rear view

It dates from the rad old days of world Expos – it was, as the website puts it, the flagship structure of the 1958 event – and not only looked suitably interesting but located just five hours away from Cambridge.

Eurotunnel booked.

It’s much bigger than it looks

After an uneventful evening run down to Folkstone, a very quiet chunnel trip in the oversize carriages, and then an overnight stop in Dunkirk – at a fully automated hotel, no less, which was cheap and amusing – we scampered across to Brussels early doors, pre-booked Atomium tickets at the ready.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - view over Mini-Europe from the Atomium

It is quite the astonishing thing in the metal. In pictures it’s easy to dismiss as some kind of modest roundabout ornamentation but it’s absolutely enormous in reality, towering over the nearby Mini-Europe and a number of other slightly oddball architectural experiments also apparently left over from the Expo.

Once inside, you get to roam around the structure, travelling up escalators and through various exhibition spaces – filled not only with the history of the Atomium itself but also the various art installations. The light and sound shows present during our visit were captivating and spectacular.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - light installation inside the Atomium

It’s a pretty awesome thing. Well worth the trip all by itself.

After a brief cruise through the (rather pricey) gift shop, we hit the café for a waffle.

But there’s more

Waffles waffled, we headed across the road to the Design Museum Brussels, entry to which is automatically included in the price of your Atomium access (you can pay extra for combined tickets to Mini-Europe and the nearby Planetarium as well, should you be so inclined).

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - plastic ride-on car in the Belgium Design Museum

The Design Museum is a largely an amusing homage to plastic, and is – honestly – a lot more interesting than that sounds. But we didn’t hang around too long, as Keith was much more keen to check out the local military museum.

Getting to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History was best done by hopping onto the local Metro. So we left the Raptor looking suitably grumpy in the vicinity of the Atomium and cracked on.

Another very impressive space, with lots to look at – including a remarkably large collection of aircraft for a European city centre space. Quiet, too, though perhaps it would be busier on a weekend.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - fighter jets in the Belgium Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History

Right opposite is Autoworld Brussels, a substantial-looking car museum that is presently undergoing some renovation. Rather than stop for this we plunged into Brussels town centre for a bite to eat and general wander – not forgetting to pick up some macarons for my wife.

Feeling pretty satisfied with the amount of Belgium capital we’d managed to cram into a single day, we Metroed back to the truck and prepared to join the rush hour in the direction of Calais.

Chunnel chaos

The roads were a little choked in places but we made good progress, and arrived at Le Shuttle in plenty of time. We needn’t had bothered. A train had come to a stop inside the tunnel earlier in the day, resulting in a backlog so big we were held in a queue prior to check-in for about an hour because there wasn’t enough space in the terminal car park for the volume of vehicles trying to make passage.

There was a further delay of a couple of hours after we got that far. But, all credit to officials, not only were we kept clearly informed, the progress from call-up to train was well organised and carefully scrutinised – with every cheeky attempt by other cars to catch an earlier departure foiled by the security staff.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - parked at the Calais Eurotunnel terminal

So, not the best end to the trip, but one that could have been much worse. Even if we arrived back in the UK so late that inevitably there were several sections of closed motorway on the way home.

Still, the Raptor was a comfortable cocoon for the dispatch of these final miles, piling on the speed where requested to make the best run of it. I wouldn’t say we alighted in Cambridge exactly refreshed, but the drive had hardly felt like a chore.

Another good couple of days’ work done by the big Ford.

Miles so far: 17,009
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 26.4mpg


Report 12: Fuel for thought

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, fuel economy (mpg) in the fuel crisis, side view

Say one thing for a ‘fuel crisis’, it can help improve your mpg. Faced with an erratic supply of diesel and a small person due to visit her grandmother 200 miles away, I found myself driving the Raptor with more delicacy than usual.

Cruising up the A1M at 60mph wasn’t much fun, but it did result in the trip computer having a moment when it very nearly displayed a 500-mile total range for a full tank – most of the time it only ever calculates in the 300s.

With all the usual traffic woes and the inevitable impact of some urban driving once we reached our destination, the properly calculated fuel economy for the trip worked out at 30.9mpg. Which might not sound that impressive, but the truck has a lifetime average of around 26mpg (though this has been climbing recently) – and this is the first time it has ever cracked 30.

And also, so far, the only time. I just don’t have the patience to drive that way permanently, especially since the Raptor’s weight means I have to drive at 60mph on regular dual carriageways.

>> Read more about pickup speed limits on Parkers

This impatience is perhaps a little irresponsible, given concerns about the climate. The fuel economy is certainly by far the most uncomfortable thing about the Ranger Raptor for me – choosing a vehicle now, I would think twice about the Ford on this basis.

But I also have intel that suggests a change to the factory fitted tyres on this model has brought about a remarkable real-world improvement in fuel efficiency. Something I hope to be able to test in the not-too-distant future.

Miles so far: 15,376
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 27.2mpg


Report 11: Service with sophistication

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, service at Marshalls Ford Transit Centre Cambridge

I have now been driving the Raptor over a year, and its appeal hasn’t diminished in the slightest. But as our 12-month anniversary coincided almost exactly with the 12,500-mile service interval, it was time to visit a Ford dealer. Something I was yet to have to do.

There was no way of missing the service requirement. Not only does a warning about oil life start appearing in the instrument cluster display every time you start the truck, the FordPass Pro app flags the situation even earlier than that – and offers to put you in touch with a local dealer to get the service booked straight in.

Sounds great. Is it?

With permission to access your geographic location (which you’ve probably given it anyway, as you want to track where you last parked the vehicle, right?), the FordPass Pro app will swiftly produce a list of local dealers. Select one as a favourite and you can then book servicing via the app.

In theory.

In reality, half the dealers I looked at didn’t seem to have this enabled (or there was a ‘fault’ with it), and of the others that were actually showing appointments, I couldn’t actually get right through to complete a booking.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, service at Marshalls Ford Transit Centre Cambridge, view over the front wing

So in the end I rang. And was offered an appointment a week or so later than the app was suggesting there was availability.

Yikes

To be fair to Ford, I’ve had several vehicles where online service booking is supposed to be an option, and I’ve never, ever been able to get it to work. The future ain’t here quite yet.

Still, after a slightly joyless conversation with Marshalls Cambridge – which involved the service phone number on the website putting me through to the car sales desk, which then passed me onto car servicing, who then finally passed me onto commercial vehicles – the Raptor was booked in.

Having been asked to bring it in first thing, I was greeted with some surprise on the morning, as my appointment was apparently not until later in the day. Hmm.

This would be a small thing for some, perhaps, but many commercial vehicle drivers rely on their vehicles for their livelihoods, making unnecessary downtime potentially expensive – I wasn’t even offered the option of courtesy vehicle at any point during the booking process.

Did things get any better?

Gladly yes. Not only did dropping the truck off early result in a relatively early call to say it was ready for collection, a text message appeared just before this with a link to a video of the service technician giving the Raptor a full visual health check.

This was brilliantly comprehensive – showing physical checks of the tyre tread depth, the brake pads and the suspension components, as well as the general condition of the underside, which appears to be completely free of corrosion. The truck even got a compliment for being a bit muddy underneath (thanks Richard).

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, service at Marshalls Ford Transit Centre Cambridge, in customer parking, ready to be collected

I can’t stress enough how well done this was, giving me loads of confidence that the Raptor had been properly looked after; every colleague I shared the video with was similarly struck by this.

How much does a Ranger Raptor minor service cost?

Not a cheap vehicle to run, the Raptor – hardly a surprise there. Still, you might want to sit down for this part: this oil and filter change, including an engine flush and plus a pollen filter, came to £366.94 including VAT.

Something to keep in mind. Especially as the 2.0-litre engine is shared with other Rangers.

Miles so far: 13,483
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 27.9mpg


Report 10: Far from the final straw

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, front view with straw bales

Richard isn’t the only one who’s been putting the Raptor to actual work. With my wife celebrating a significant birthday, she wanted some affordable extra outdoor seating in order to comply with the coronavirus rules at the time.

Having used my old VW Crafter long-termer to collect a set of small straw bales for a similar purpose a few years previously, she diligently hunted down a local supplier of what she thought was the same. However, it turns out the measurements weren’t quite as she’d anticipated…

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, front view with straw bales

That’s just two bales sitting in the back there, cheerfully – and it has to be said, very precisely – hoisted onto the truck by the farmer using a tractor-mounted loader grab.

I can’t tell you the exact weight, but suffice to say the Raptor’s suspension didn’t even drop, and I was subsequently able to unload them by hand. So this was hardly troubling the pickup’s 620kg payload limit.

I was a little dubious about the height, but with everything thoroughly ratchet-strapped down, I charted a route the few miles back to home in Cambridge that avoided the A14 – in order to keep the speeds down and reduce the chances of annoyingly peppering following traffic with pieces of straw.

Slight shift in the centre of gravity aside, the Raptor barely felt the difference. Job done.

Miles so far: 11,793
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 26.5mpg


Report 9: Fields of dreams; rescuing a Spitfire and a shortcut to the shops

Ford Ranger Raptor towing Triumph Spitfire

We’re all fixated on the 3,500kg towing capacity – the maximum allowed, essentially – of routine pickups in the UK and the ‘downside’ of the Raptor’s reduced rating. However, realistically how often do you push that towing capacity to the max?

The Ranger Raptor can tow 2,500kg, and comes with a beefy tow hitch and towing guides on the reversing camera. To dismiss it as a tow vehicle, given everything else it can do, seems daft; for many years most pickups were limited to this sort of number and were still extremely useful.

So faced with a Spitfire (Triumph, not Supermarine) that’s been parked in a field for several years, and not knowing if my next car would be up to the job, I arranged to steal CJ’s Raptor for a week when the Spitfire’s owners had some friends around who might be able to help me load.

Ford Ranger Raptor with Ifor Williams car trailer, checking lights and connections

As always, I rented a trailer from Barnwell Trailers near Oundle. A sensibly-sized Ifor Williams CT136HD with ramps weighs around 600kg, and the Spitfire before the ravages of rust would struggle to challenge 1,100kg even with some spares in the boot, so all well within the legal limits. A day’s rental is £72 including VAT and straps, with no extra deposits or surcharges, so there’s really no excuse for towing with a substandard or unsafe rig.

How well does the Ranger Raptor tow?

With the unladen trailer the Raptor’s performance is undiminished, ideal for driving around more congested parts of the country where opportunities to turn across traffic are tight. The width of the Raptor is a bonus here as a driver, since your pickup is pretty much as wide as the marker lights; for other road users the trailer can be slightly obscured so you need to take that into consideration more than you might with other pickups.

Loading a Triumph Spitfire onto a trailer

Driving into the field and securing the Spitfire went without incident, the Raptor’s rather large turning circle offset by the excellent camera and mirrors when manoeuvering the combination once loaded. Off-road-biased tyres provide more than sufficient grip on grass without resorting to all-wheel drive, but we tried it anyway and it allowed smooth movements without winding up.

Raptor with trailer and Triumph Spitfire

Secured, the Triumph’s presence on the trailer did have a small impact on pace, encouraging a more relaxed approach around the many roundabouts of Bedfordshire; not a bad thing really. Unlike some combinations, the Raptor had no clunks, rattles or ‘shove’ from the load – it feels very cohesive, and the remarkable rear suspension damps trailer movements extremely well.

Ranger Raptor with trailer reversed onto driveway

Home safe, and again the camera, large mirrors and controllable power make reversing from the road to the drive quick and stress-free. One of the best towing experiences I’ve had, particularly given the performance nature of the Raptor otherwise.

An off-road diversion

You don’t expect to lend me one of the best off-roaders on the market and also hope to get it back mud-free, do you? Driving off-road is not only an enjoyable way of getting about, I’ve got historic injuries that means getting to remote, attractive locations may not always be possible on foot.

Mud on Ranger Raptor

To enjoy the Raptor responsibly, joining GLASS, the Green Laning Association, and using Trailwise 2 (their bespoke mapping and feedback app) to check routes and their current status in terms of ‘closed, poorly maintained, or local council/residents have objected to their use’ is highly recommended before taking a casual diversion from the beaten track. For more extreme trips, the members often arrange group outings with greater challenges, support and worthwhile destinations, too.

Ford Ranger Raptor on unclassified road

It just so happens that one such route lies on the way to Tesco for me. It’s far from challenging, but provides a great open sky view of sunsets as well as a challenge for 4×4 suspension (and traction during poor weather).

Still want a traditional 4×4? The Raptor’s rational rationale…

The Raptor’s abilities here cannot be overstated. I’ve driven several pickups and of course, my long-term Jeep Wrangler down this road at all times of year and in all conditions, and the Raptor is like going from a classic Mini to a Rolls-Royce in terms of smoothness; it doesn’t float as such, but if you build up speed it gets better, not worse and it’s never harsh or uncomfortable.

We’re not talking full-hooligan mode – see above – but it’ll maintain a speed twice that of a D-Max or Jeep and comes without the chassis-rattling, teeth, clenching jolt if you mistake a bump for a rise. If you have a large estate to cover off-road, you will absolutely love the Raptor – as will your estate management – even if your accountant hates it.

Of course, the on-road experience for anyone who enjoys an exciting, involving drive is marred by the knowledge you’re either technically speeding, or holding up HGVs on some roads – but off-road, this has the comfort of a massive double-cab pickup and the bounce and freedom of a sandrail or perhaps, an Ariel Nomad.

I’m not so much impressed, as mildly in awe that Ford offer this for not much more than a typical fully-loaded pickup (once you take VAT into account) and simple lift kit. It is genuinely remarkable.

More to the point, load limits aside it’s more than capable of being a valid, working pickup, a comfortable family vehicle (as demonstrated by CJ), AND an excellent weekend off-road toy. Perhaps more so than any other lifestyle pickup.

Stump up the BIK, it’s worth it…

By Richard Kilpatrick

Fuel economy – 25.4mpg. Seemingly unbothered by towing…

And yes – I did wash it before giving it back. And missed a bit.

Ranger Raptor in a jetwash

Report 8: Crash, bang, wallet? Raptor windscreen replacement time

There I was, minding my own business on the way back from dropping my wife and daughter off at the station when BANG – a rock approximately the size of the hand grenade was flicked up or fell off the back of the chassis cab I was following and went straight into the middle of the Raptor’s windscreen.

I say the size of a hand grenade – I didn’t actually see what hit me. But the resulting impact crater was pretty impressive for a single strike at 50mph, and at the very least left the truck looking like it had taken small arms fire. Which has probably done my reputation with the neighbours no harm at all.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, windscreen chip damage, outside

Anyway. Time for a new screen. Not as straightforward as it used to be, thanks to all the sensors and cameras packed into a modern Ford pickup.

How do you get a windscreen replaced when there are lots of sensors, then?

Rather than someone in a van turning up in the car park, the Raptor had to go to the local branch of Autoglass. Hardly a big deal, but something that’s worth keeping in mind if you need your truck for your living. In total it took about a week to sort out, as the glass needed to be ordered and then arrive in Cambridge – though the actual fitting and recalibration was done in less than two hours.

The pandemic meant no waiting room, either, so I retired to the local supermarket cafe. Regardless, the guys at Autoglass were very professional and helpful throughout.

Does the fuel level effect the calibration?

Because of all the sensors, I thought I’d better check with Ford about whether the Raptor needed to be at a particular fuel load or anything for the calibration – Autoglass requests vehicles are empty, and mentions a few cars on its website that specifically need to be fully tanked.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, windscreen replacement by Autoglass

Ford wasn’t worried, though. And given the Raptor weighs 2.5 tonnes, I suppose a full tank of fuel alone is hardly going to make much difference to the suspension height.

I did get it cleaned first, though, as a courtesy.

How much does a new Ranger Raptor windscreen cost?

Usually your insurance would cover all but a small excess cost when it comes to windscreen replacement, but as a press vehicle, the Raptor isn’t on a standard insurance policy. Fortunately, we were able to get the replacement screen completed via a Ford fleet account – good news because when I asked Autoglass for a quote, I was initially told it would be £1,400.

And that’s not even with the proper Ford glass we had fitted in the end. Makes you wonder how all the tech balances out in your insurance premium – sure, the sensors and cameras might stop you having a smash with another car, but when a random act of rock can cause a £1,400 bill that’s got to be a complicated calculation.

For comparison – albeit a couple of years ago – the Transporter TSI I had as a previous long-termer had a replacement screen cost of less than £400. But then, that was done by a bloke in the work car park…

Miles so far: 8,916
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 25.3mpg


Report 7: Ranger Raptor vs Toyota Hilux

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, with Toyota Hilux Invincible X

When the current generation of Hilux was introduced in 2016, it was met with the usual enthusiasm for Toyota’s fastidious engineering prowess. But listen carefully and you might also have detected a tiny collective sigh, when it was revealed the only version coming to the UK would be a paltry 2.4-litre diesel with just 150hp. Making it one of the least powerful pickups available.

Toyota was bullish when pressed about that, saying the new model had much better torque for practical use. Yet the November 2020 Hilux facelift brought with a new 2.8-litre motor with 204hp and up to 500Nm of torque, and UK Hilux sales have subsequently gone through the roof.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, Toyota Hilux Invincible X front wheel and side step detail

Either by accident or design, it’s proved to be excellent timing – the new, more powerful Hilux arriving just as the 3.0-litre V6-powered VW Amarok and Mercedes X-Class were discontinued. It’s now the truck with the biggest engine of any sold here, and while Toyota doesn’t offer a direct spec rival to the Raptor, given that the Ford’s 2.0-litre engine sometimes feels slightly underwhelming, I thought it might be illuminating to get the two pickups together for a quick comparison.

But wait – isn’t the Ford EcoBlue engine actually more powerful?

It sure is. The twin-turbo fitted under the bonnet of the Raptor – and other higher-spec Rangers – provides 213hp and a Hilux-matching 500Nm. This doesn’t stop the Toyota’s engine feeling more potent on the road.

It’s something to do with the larger capacity. That and the Raptor’s balloon tyres and monster kerbweight: the Ford is 2,510kg minimum, the Toyota at least a 170kg lighter (depending on spec).

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, with Toyota Hilux Invincible X , nose and grille detail

As a result, although they have very similar 10-second 0-62mph times, the Hilux romps along with a deeply satisfying depth of muscle, while the Raptor always feels like it’s working hard – like a high performance athlete who’s let themselves fall ever so slightly out of condition.

True, this particular Hilux has a manual gearbox – which is pretty good as far as pickup transmissions go. But that should actually count in the Raptor’s favour, given the Ford has a very clever 10-speed automatic to call upon, and manual versions of the Toyota are restricted to 420Nm.

Surely the Raptor trounces the Hilux for comfort, though?

In addition to the bigger unit and fairly obvious visual makeover – especially on this range-topping Invincible X – the new Hilux benefits from a load of invisible engineering changes, including revised front and rear suspension.

Toyota says this has been tuned to deliver greater comfort when the load bed is empty, which, let’s face it, is how most top-end pickups are generally driven. And on the launch, where we drove only automatic variants, we were impressed with this. For a pickup with a leaf-sprung rear end, the Hilux has always done well in this area anyway.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, with Toyota Hilux Invincible X, rear view

So it came as quite a surprise to find this particular Hilux riding rather firmly and abruptly when piloted around Cambridge, doing the usual family things. To such an extent that I had to ask Toyota if there were different suspension settings for the manual version – or perhaps an issue with this one.

Both queries were answered in the negative. Either my memory is playing tricks, the roads on the launch route were especially smooth (they weren’t) or I’m so spoiled by the ride comfort in the Raptor that my perspective on pickups has been skewed.

To give the Toyota its due, things calm down as the roads get faster, and longer distances aren’t a chore at all. Suffice to say, though, the Ford really is outstanding in this area. Not perfect, but very, very good for a pickup – but then, so it should be, given the fancy off-road racing suspension and all-round coil springs…

What about living with them?

I only had the Hilux for a few days, but it has a perfectly acceptable cabin, whether your priorities are looks, build quality, functionality or space. Whether it’s better or worse than what Ford gives you in the Ranger is probably a personal thing – they’re both at a pretty high level in pickup terms.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, Toyota Hilux Invincible X interior, manual transmission

The Raptor has a lot of sexy detailing – magnesium paddleshifters, pseudo-ceramic trimmings, excellent sports seats – again because of its particular status within the Ranger line-up.

As a working vehicle (…) the Toyota kicks the Ford’s arse, of course. The Raptor can barely manage 600kg of payload and is HMRCed like a car as a result, while the Hilux can easily handle 1,000kg and tow up to 3,500kg (Raptor: 2,500kg).

As my family car I haven’t really found this a problem. Even with over-packing as my potential Olympic sport.

Is this a fair comparison at all?

God, no. With VAT, the Raptor is over £10k more than the Hilux. And much as I love my big Ford, the Toyota’s engine would certainly make me think twice about a Ranger Wildtrak or Thunder.

Miles so far: 7,148
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 22.76mpg


Report 6: Family rivals

Ford Ranger Raptor and Ford Transit Trail - black, sunset

If you’ve been thinking about buying a Ranger Raptor, it might have crossed your mind to wonder how it compares to some of the other machines in the Ford commercial vehicle line-up. Well, wonder no more, as I’ve been working my way through some of the Raptor’s closest physical and spiritual relations in recent months.

As such, I’ve driven not only a Ranger Thunder back-to-back with the Raptor, but also Trail versions of the Transit and Transit Custom vans. These last are the roughty-toughtiest variants in their respective model ranges, and the only other Fords in the UK to get the big FORD grille – which up until now has very much been an exclusive trait of the Raptor, both here and in the USA.

Raptor vs the Transit Custom Trail

Ford Transit Custom Trail - how does it compare with the Ranger Raptor? Front view, blue

The Transit Custom is the UK’s bestselling van. And if you’re thinking, so what, the Ranger is the UK’s bestselling pickup, you’re right – except that in the weird pandemic situation we find ourselves in, this means that some months the Transit Custom outsells every car on the UK market as well.

It has been – and continues to be – a phenomenally successful vehicle for Ford, so it should probably come as no surprise that it’s also a very good one. This Trail model was introduced in 2020, and alongside the big grille gets a clever mechanical limited slip differential (mLSD) to increase traction and an interior finished in attractive, hard-wearing leather.

Fitted with a 170hp single-turbo version of the Ford 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine, it also goes with a keenness that the heavy-weight Raptor often lacks, fairly sprinting away from traffic lights if you let its enthusiasm get the better of you. That diff ensures all the torque propels you in the right direction, even when there are variable levels of grip under each side of the van.

Ford Transit Custom Trail - how does it compare with the Ranger Raptor? Front interior

There’s a high seating position, giving you a good view of the road ahead, and a positive six-speed manual gearbox. Size-wise, the long-wheelbase L2 model I had on test is really no more difficult to park than the Raptor (the van is about 2cm shorter, while the height of both is a problem for some car parks), but the fixed bulkhead and general van-ness mean rearward visibility is nowhere near as good.

The ride comfort is also far less sophisticated, and body roll in the corners makes itself felt quite early on – characteristics that make it seem strangely less wieldy than the big pickup. The Custom’s standard headlights are pretty poor as well.

Still, as a Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV), the test item makes an interesting alternative family lifestyle vehicle – much as the Raptor does, but in a more practical way. The second-row seats have loads of room, and there is a vast amount of space in back of an L2 for swallowing several bikes whole, let alone the luggage.

Shame the inner door panels of the rear passenger compartment aren’t as well trimmed as the front, making it feel a bit too work van, perhaps. A van might also be a harder sell to your significant other on cool factor, but the Raptor is hardly a surefire hit in that respect, either.

>> Ford Transit Custom Trail review

>> Ford Transit Custom Trail double-cab review

Raptor vs Transit Trail

Ford Transit Trail - how does it compare with the Ranger Raptor? Front view, DCiV, black

Now this is a big van. Similar basic spec to the smaller Transit Custom – including the grippy diff and 170hp 2.0-litre engine – but the sheer size of this Transit most likely knocks it out as any kind of family vehicle, even in DCiV guise, as here. This is a fancy work toy, though one that will certainly aim to earn its keep.

If anything, it’s even more impressive to drive than the Transit Custom version, although that’s perhaps because you’re mentally preparing yourself for it to be a bit of a chore when you first see it blotting out the sun in front of your house. The diff helps put the power down in greasy conditions, but if you do need more traction capability than that, this full-size Trail model is also available with a four-wheel drive system.

The interior has the same, high quality, easy clean leather trimming as the smaller model, though it also feels a bit more utilitarian inside. As a work vehicle it’s super-luxe compared to most, however, with masses of space in the second row and those fancy leather seats. It could do with a little more of everyday practical storage in the front of the cab (that’s in comparison to our favourite large vans, the VW Crafter / MAN TGE, which excel in this area).

Extremely likeable, and badass-looking with the FORD grille, bodycladding and black paint.

>> Ford Transit Trail review

Raptor vs Ranger Thunder

Ford Ranger Thunder - how does it compare with the Ranger Raptor? Front view

The Thunder is the latest special edition version of the regular Ranger double-cab pickup – although these days, a top-spec Ranger is anything but regular. It’s based on the Wildtrak, but comes in this exclusively attention-seeking colourway of red highlights over dark grey paint and dechromed detailing.

People do give you The Look, if you know what I mean. But from inside the cab this is a fine place to be. It doesn’t have the Raptor’s fancy seats or magnesium gearshift paddles, but it does benefit from the same twin-turbo 213hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine and 10-speed automatic – and since it weighs a useful amount less, it’s feels lighter on its feet as well.

Driven back-to-back with the Raptor, this was the biggest revelation of the three. It is quite remarkable how composed the latest Ranger has become on the road. Unlike the coil-sprung Raptor, the Thunder maintains the traditional leaf spring rear suspension pickups generally use for load-carrying strength, yet it deals brilliantly well with all but the most gnarly surfaces.

Ford Ranger Thunder - how does it compare with the Ranger Raptor? Rear view

What’s more, those road-biased tyres make a real difference to grip and traction. As discussed in the previous report, the knobbly rubber on the Raptor requires a fair degree of circumspection when the weather turns the tarmac slippery, almost defaulting to a controlled waywardness at times. In the Thunder you can turn into and power out of corners with much greater confidence – this is one pickup that does now feel reasonably close to the capabilities of a passenger SUV.

That’s overselling it a bit. But the Thunder is well-equipped, well-trimmed, seemingly well-made and decidedly keener in its on-road responses than the Raptor, if also less of an event. The Raptor maintains an air of purposeful engineering that the Thunder simply doesn’t have – the Raptor feels like something built, while the Thunder has merely been mass-produced. With fancy red accents.

>> Ford Ranger Thunder review

Any conclusions?

Well, I’ll keep the Raptor for now, thanks. But, I’d be pretty happy with any of them, and thinking towards the future, the idea of a family-friendly van certainly has its appeal. The question is whether the compromise in comfort – the Transit Custom really is less good over the bumps – is worth the added convenience of a large, covered load area for slinging-in all the family kit. Definitely one to ponder…

Miles so far: 6,688
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 25.26mpg


Report 5: Driving the Raptor in winter

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, driving in winter

You might have noticed – the weather has been pretty miserable recently. Apparently it’s something called ‘winter’, and it makes the roads greasy even when it isn’t snowing (which frankly it hasn’t done very much around Cambridge, anyway).

And the thing is, for all it’s immense off-road capability, greasy roads are still something to be slightly wary off in the Raptor.

Honestly, officer…

Look at those whacking-great 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres, and you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s surely not much that will stop this thing. And given a surface that allows them to dig in and grip, this is largely true. But the big grooves and knobbly bits that make these tyres so good in the mud and sand – and probably the snow, if I ever get the chance to test it – also mean there’s less of a contact patch between the road and the wheels than you might immediately think.

Add an engine that chucks 500Nm into the drivetrain at just 1,750rpm, and if it’s slippery tarmac it’s dealing with, the Raptor isn’t always stupendously grippy.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review, 2021, 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres

With a four-wheel drive system that’s actually rear-wheel drive unless you tell it otherwise, this means slightly too much right foot could see you slithering away from traffic lights to such an extent that when making a turn at the same time might end up requiring some opposite lock as you slide sideways across the road – with a surprising amount of grace for something of this size…

This is all theoretical, of course. And, should this happen, you’ll no doubt be pleased to know that not only is everything communicated with plenty of predictability – making the slide easy to catch – there is of course a very sophisticated traction and stability control system to stop things getting out of hand.

In fact, if you’re really worried, you can select the Grass/Gravel/Snow driving mode, and it’ll take a load of bite out of the torque response – making it much easier to move off on really slippery stuff.

But what would be the fun in that?

Being serious for a moment, for such a big beast, it really is very controllable. But the occasional absence of instant traction is worth keeping in mind – a regular Ranger is grippier in these conditions, without a doubt (but more on that in another time).

How’s the heater?

Ah, now, this is interesting. Defrosting is a doddle, thanks to heated screens front as well as rear, and the heated seats will have your backside toasting in a matter of moments. So cold mornings – the few I’ve needed to venture out on, under lockdown – haven’t been an issue at all.

But, I have discovered that there’s no way of directing air to your feet. The Ranger just doesn’t have the vents pointed in that direction. Which means on longer journeys I have sometime found myself with unexpectedly cold toes.

One area where a regular car or SUV definitely has an advantage over this pickup truck.

Miles so far: 5,198
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 27.59mpg


Report 4: Raptor vs the travel corridor

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - GB badge mit cat (also called Keith)

As I said in the previous report, I’m a little behind with the Raptor’s adventures, and still catching up with some things that were still relatively easy to do over the summer, before the second wave of COVID-19 started to catch up with everyone. In this instance, the thing in question was driving to Germany for a few days, on what has now become an annual field trip with my mate Keith.

‘Relatively easy’ in this case refers to the travel corridor situation that was in place during late August – which meant we could safely and correctly drive to Germany without having to isolate on our return, as long as we didn’t stop in any of the countries on the naughty list during the trip.

To be clear, this was all of the countries between the UK and Germany at the time – though only about six hours of travelling and well within range of the Raptor’s 80-litre diesel tank (even at the slightly questionable mid-20s mpg it seems to be returning).

Wasn’t this a really bad idea?

You might be wondering what the point was, under the circumstances. Well, after several months of being strapped to the dining room table, keeping various Bauer Media websites alive (in my case) and keeping a secondary school running (in Keith’s case), the need to get out and do something was almost overwhelming.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - at the Eurotunnel on the UK side

It was also, obviously, an excellent opportunity to test the Raptor’s long-distance credentials – not necessarily an automatic given, what with the off-road tyres and suspension.

When all those other European countries began getting shut down to UK visitors, I also began to question the sanity of carrying on. But Keith is nothing if not thoroughly cautious, and it turns out he was already tracking the various R numbers – once he showed me that Germany’s was far lower than the UK’s, essentially making it safer to be there than here, I figured we were genuinely ok to continue.

Planning ahead

That’s not to say we didn’t do a lot of contingency planning.

When the truck rolled out of Cambridge, it was not only carrying our three-day luggage, but a fully packed selection of snacks for the journey (to stop us being overcome by hunger while passing French motorway service stations, and including the strangest grapes I have ever seen – check the gallery), spare AdBlue and even a pair of portable toilets – just in case.

Not to mention all the usual roadside spares, headlight reflectors and fluorescent jackets that are legally required when travelling on the continent. I’d carefully checked tyre pressures as well.

In the end, the food and the AdBlue we needed, the emergency toilets gladly we did not. Brimming the Raptor at the deserted and extremely eerie M20 services (it was around 6am) gave us more than enough fuel range to get into Germany before requiring more. At which point we also emptied our bladders, then filled our stomachs – with currywurst, obviously.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - filling with AdBlue (in Dortmund, Germany)

I forget exactly when the AdBlue warning came on, but we didn’t actually need to put any of that in until the return leg. At which point I learned that you have to add at least five litres or the warning doesn’t reset – something I didn’t know before. So the trip was genuinely educational.

The Eurotunnel terminal was quiet on the way out, which meant we all got pulled in for swab spot checking. And once on the train – in the coach deck, because the Raptor is too big for the car carriages (we actually had some back and forth with Eurotunnel ahead of time over this, as the system there only has dimensions for a standard Ranger; other Raptor drivers beware) – we had to remain inside the vehicle.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - view from inside the Eurotunnel

No opportunity to take the usual ‘we’re on the Chunnel!’ photograph, so I took one of the steering wheel instead.

But where in Germany were you going?

Following on from a trip to Blockhaus d’Eperlecques in France in 2019, for our 2020 excursion we’d decided to visit the former German rocket-testing site at Peenemunde. This is right near the Baltic Sea on the island of Usedom, in an area of Germany I’m fairly sure I haven’t visited before, and within easy driving distance of the UK if you don’t mind taking the time to do such a thing.

As usual, I left the accommodation decisions to Keith (with the understanding that it would be as German as possible), so on the way out we stopped a couple of hours shy of our main destination at a guest house on the outskirts of Lubeck.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - in the rain, on the autobahn

This was still a journey of around nine hours from Calais, during which the Raptor proved more than up for the long-distance challenge. Good seats, much better suspension than your average pickup truck and plenty of uberholt prestige from that ultra-aggressive front-end made progress along Europe’s motorway networks very straightforward.

A surprising number of other UK-plated cars kept us company for a while – we were more careful than most about speed limits when crossing France and Belgium, since we really didn’t want to have to stop for anything (which also made for record-setting Raptor fuel economy on this leg of the trip, an outstanding 29.9mpg) – but the further we got the fewer we saw. And, as you might expect for a major pandemic, the continental roads were even quieter than usual.

The truck’s tyres weren’t as much of a drag as I’d expected, either. You do have to concentrate maybe a little harder to keep it pointed dead straight than you would a regular car, but if you’re going to make the most of Germany’s derestricted speed limits you’ll be concentrating anyway. Not that the Raptor’s 109mph top speed is much to write home about in this context.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - currywurst the first

Even Keith, who is not an especially speedy driver, commented that it wasn’t as fast as the Mazda 6 we’d used the previous year – and we’d only just managed to get 130mph out of that. I’ve remarked before that a lack of proper oomph is probably the Raptor’s weakest point, but probably it’s just about as fast as it needs to be on the road, given the size of it.

Keith also quickly (no pun intended) noticed that changing down manually using the paddleshifters for the automatic gearbox never seemed to make much difference when attempting to make things a bit more vigorous for an overtaking manoeuvre. As I explained to him, the problem here is the sheer number of gears in the 10-speed transmission – you have to downshift four times before there’s a real change in the urgency.

However, it seems Ford’s talk about the gearbox being ‘intelligent’ isn’t all hokum. For there was a very noticeable change in its willingness to downshift and increase acceleration automatically, even during the first day of driving. It seems it really does respond well to how it’s being used in the moment.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - devil on the streets of Lubeck

Anyway. Proving that we hadn’t quite done enough research, almost every restaurant in Lubeck was shut because it was a Monday night. But after about an hour trudging about in the rain we did end up with an excellent – if not especially German – pizza.

To Peenemunde

In the morning we wasted a few minutes trying to photograph the Raptor next to the nearby lake – much to the confusion/suspicion of the boat-owning locals, we’re sure (the Ford has a rather prominent tow hook, after all) – then swiftly dispatched the distance to our main destination: the former Peenemunde Army Research Centre.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - looking suspicious among the lakehouses

This area, which is now given over entirely to the Peenemunde Historical Technical Museum – based in the former site power station that’s pretty much all that’s left of the original buildings aside from a few ruins scattered throughout the surrounding forest – was responsible for much of the development of Germany’s rocket-powered weaponry in World War Two. Most notably the A4 rocket and the V-2 flying bomb.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - V2 at Peenemunde

It’s a fascinating place, though with nothing like the thought-provoking spookiness of Blockhaus in France. But then, it was a sunnier day, and much busier. Even so, we didn’t hear a single other English voice – and that included when we made our way round the corner to take a look at one of the other Peenemunde tourist attractions: Juliett U-461.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - Juliett U-461

This is a Soviet diesel-electric submarine of the NATO-designated Juliett class, parked in the harbour. Frankly, I’ve never been keen on the things, and clambering around the cramped interior of this one – applying hand sanitiser after every bulkhead – has done nothing to persuade me otherwise. Fascinating to visit, but I wouldn’t want to stay there.

Hamburg, tanks and burgers

Sights duly seen, another currywurst duly eaten, we clambered back into the Raptor and set course for our second overnight stop – heading back in the UK’s direction, Keith had found us what he described as the cheapest accommodation in Hamburg.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - outside Hamburg hotel

One of several hotels spread out across the floors of a grand former town house, this wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that might suggest. We were up near the roof, which meant my room was in some former servant’s quarters – with a bed under the eaves and my own staircase. Very amusing.

A good dinner was followed by a stroll around Hamburg, where we found the transport museum fully booked (even though it was open until very late) and took a walk through the a crazy Old Elbe Tunnel, which has elevators at either end for cars (sadly closed to traffic or we’d have detoured via it in the morning).

An early start meant we had time to cram in a couple of other stops on the way back to Blighty. First of these was a totally unplanned visit to the German Tank Museum, located just down the road from Hamburg in Munster (not Münster).

Seemed appropriate, given the Raptor is a bit of a tank itself – even if it might mistakenly give the impression that Keith and I are hardcore military buffs, when really we were just dropping in on what was nearby.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - a tank in the German Tank Museum

The museum is quite a compact, given the size of some of the exhibits. But it’s also absolutely crammed with around 150 tanks in all, many of which appear to be in working order. This last perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise, as it started life as the teaching collection for Germany’s armoured combat troops, a role that it still partly fulfils today.

Having successfully negotiated the shop without buying anything stupid, we then sprinted further west for a lunch stop at a place called Big Boost Burger in Dortmund – which is run by a car tuning company called JP Performance, and has some rather unusual restaurant furniture.

This includes a pool table lit by an up-ended mk2 Golf GTi and a dyno-cell with a glass wall to allow diners to spectate (and presumably speculate) on power runs. This didn’t look like it had been used for a while – perhaps another victim of COVID-19. Still, the burgers were delicious, and we took a moment or two to complete the necessary UK government online forms required for our return home.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - Big Boost Burger, Dortmund

At this point we realised we’d misjudged the time slightly, so our fuel economy on the return leg wasn’t quite as impressive as it was on the way out (one tank falling to 19mpg…). A final set of fuel stops within the German border saw us safely to the Eurotunnel terminal, however, where there was a much greater amount of traffic exiting France than we’d seen coming in – most of it on UK plates. I’m sure they’d all stuck to the travel corridor rules as well.

As usual, the worst bit of the journey was slogging back up the M20 and round the M25, but at least the traffic was relatively light. And while there were moments where I’d have preferred to have been driving something with a little more fire under the bonnet, the Raptor managed the 1,800-mile round trip with supreme ease and exceptionally good comfort.

More of this in 2021, please.

Miles so far: 3,970
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 25.42mpg


Report 3: Travels with the family – and keeping kit dry in the back

As for most people, I expect, 2020 has been a bit of a funny year – for work and homelife in particular. The relevance of that for this Raptor long-term test is that I’m a bit behind in my reporting – so the next couple of updates will deal with things that took place in late summer. In other words, slightly before the really hardcore lockdown situation started up again…

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - front view, parking space with tiny cars

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about here is waterproofing.

Say what?

A thrilling subject, I’m sure you’d agree. But when your only family car is in fact a pickup truck that has boot space that is essentially exposed to the elements, waterproofing becomes quite important – especially when travelling for a few days away.

Nobody wants to arrive at their deluxe caravan (holiday lodge, apparently) with soggy luggage. And when you’ve already got a two-year-old on board, the last thing you want to be doing is packing stuff inside the cabin.

Doesn’t the Raptor come with a load cover?

It does – and a rather good lockable Mountain Top one at that. But though the roller design of this is handy and impressively weather resistant, it is not fully waterproof, as evidenced by the small amount water that tends to pool in the corners.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - Mountain Top roller cover

I considered a roof box – the Raptor also comes with load bars over the cover – but these are expensive, hard to store and probably not great for the fuel economy. So I then moved onto roof bags, which do the same job but are squishy and so better suited to fitting inside the load area rather than over it.

In the end though, I ended up with a bag designed to go on a tow hitch, as these are long and thin and sized so that you can get two into the back of the Raptor side-by-side. I bought a quite expensive one from Amazon first as proof of concept, then thought to look on eBay, where I picked up a much cheaper item to fit alongside the first.

Bag it up

Bluntly put, you can tell why the pricier one costs more – it is far, far greater quality (thicker material, better sealed zips, slightly larger), and comes with all sorts of tie-down options, which I didn’t really need in the back of the truck. But the cheaper one proved just fine for protecting the kiddo’s buggy.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - fully loaded, including waterproof bag

As you can see from the pictures, we made the most of the space available, tucking less water-sensitive stuff in around the bag-protected clothing. Amazing how many things you seem to need when holidaying with a tiny person.

Not that the Raptor was bothered. In fact, thanks to a lot of steady motorway driving I saw over 28mpg on one tank of fuel, which isn’t bad at all for a pickup that had only just passed 1,000 miles.

By CJ Hubbard

Miles so far: 1,366
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 28.12mpg


Report 2: No dumb truck

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - FordPass Pro home screen

As a steroidal-looking pickup, it would be easy to dismiss the Raptor as kind of a dumb vehicle. I mean, even with its extensive suspension modifications (compared with a standard Ford Ranger) it’s still got a ladder frame chassis and a bluff, practical design format.

However, like most modern light commercial vehicles, the Raptor is packed with modern technology – some of which was actually a surprise to me, particularly on the connectivity front.

FordPass Pro and more

FordPass Pro I was fully aware of (I’m not that out of touch). This is a system that allows you to connect your Ford van or pickup to your smartphone via an app. And within this app you can do and see all sorts of useful stuff, such as make sure its locked, see where’s parked and check things such as the fuel, oil and AdBlue level.

It will even alert you if there’s a recall or other issue that needs attending to at the dealer. 

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - Sync 3 wi-fi connectivity screen

What I wasn’t expecting, when setting all this up, was for the Raptor to ask to join my home wi-fi network. The only thing it appears to need this for is to make over-the-air software updates easier, so it isn’t really doing very much with this capability at the moment. But that’s still a first for me.

And in case you’re wondering why the truck is called Fred, it’s simply the first name that popped into my head when FordPass Pro asked me to give it a title…

Are there any surprising tech omissions?

While it does have autonomous emergency braking and an electronic stability control system that takes smooth and decisive action should those knobbly rear tyres lose traction on slippery tarmac (honestly officer, my foot slipped on the accelerator…), I was a little taken aback that you don’t get tyre pressure monitors, and would definitely find blindspot monitors more useful than the lane departure warning system that is fitted as standard.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - FordPass Pro no tyre pressure data

The thing with the tyre pressure monitors is not only how critical tyre condition is for on-road safety, but also that you get a reminder that they don’t exist every time you look at the FordPass Pro app, as it’s one of three main things displayed on the home screen (the others being lock status and fuel level). In Ford’s defence, tyre pressure sensors do tend to be highly sensitive to knocks and bumps, which will occur quite regularly should you venture off road to the Raptor’s full, high-speed capability.

The omission that really bugs me, though, is that the Raptor doesn’t come with a stop-start system. In current times, when I’m already slightly uneasy about cruising around in such a big, profligate beast, the fact that it doesn’t automatically turn the engine off whenever it’s at a standstill is quite distressing. Not because I’m worried about fuel consumption, but because of localised emissions.

Still, the AdBlue system should take care of most of those, I suppose.

Should you be worried about the fuel consumption?

Ahahaha. Well, this does vary somewhat with the kind of driving I’m doing – as you’d expect. But the initial bad news is that it’s averaging around 25mpg.

Could be worse. And for the most part, the experience I’m getting in return definitely feels worth it.

By CJ Hubbard

Miles so far: 964
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg
Actual fuel economy: 24.99mpg


Report 1: Haters gonna hate

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review - cj hubbard's new daily driver

Well, here we are then. Depending on how you feel about it, the Ford Ranger Raptor is either peak pickup for the UK in 2020 or ‘automotive dumbassery’ of the highest order, as one colleague from a classic car publication recently colourfully suggested. We’re now lucky enough to have one on a long-term test, and a big part of the plan here is to find out which of those descriptions is more apt.

You might be wondering…

What makes the Raptor so different to any other Ranger, and such a potential opinion divider? Our main Ranger Raptor review will clue you into the full story, but the short version is the Raptor has been re-engineered by Ford Performance in order to cope with high-speed off-road driving – of the kind that would likely shake most other pickups to death.

To this end, it not only has a reinforced chassis frame and massively enhanced bodywork intended to survive such abuse, it also has Fox Racing suspension, chunky BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres and the kind of interior makeover that’s appropriate for a vehicle that costs over £50,000 once you include the VAT. Obviously, it comes loaded with standard kit as well, including a sat-nav system that can lay breadcrumbs you can follow back if you’re travelling away from the beaten path.

Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test review 2020 - rear view, black, country road, wind turbine

On the flip side, the Raptor is so heavy that on the one had it no longer counts as a commercial vehicle for tax purposes (payload is just 620kg) and on the other doesn’t qualify as a dual-purpose vehicle for speed limits – meaning despite all that visual machismo it’s legally only allowed to do 60mph on a dual carriageway.

Which actually isn’t that big a deal, as the final fly in the peak-pickup ointment is under the bonnet. Where the American-market F-150 Raptor pickups have always packed whacking-great amounts of horsepower, the first Ranger-based Raptor has to make do with the same twin-turbo 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel as other high-spec Rangers.

And while this does have a healthy 213hp and 500Nm of torque, even the standard-fit 10-speed automatic transmission can’t get those big wheels turning with real show-stopping vigour. That high-end off-road suspension sure does make it comfy for a pickup, though.

So what are you planning to do with it?

Drive it. A lot. In the current pandemic environment, having access to a go-anywhere, carry anything (…that isn’t too heavy…) truck feels strangely appropriate – which will of course seem stupid and not a little melodramatic to some people. I’m mostly joking, but there’s no denying that glancing out the window at it parked on the drive, as I’m doing now, brings a certain sense of reassurance.

There are some challenges ahead. The damn thing is so big it can occasional be difficult to find a suitable parking space, while my plans to use it as my daily family car will require finding a waterproof solution to stashing all the toddler’s gear in the back – while the Raptor’s load cover is good, it’s not 100% impermeable.

As for that main question at the beginning there. Hate to break it to the nay sayers, but regardless of the obvious difficulties, I’ve got to say: I already love it.

Also read:

>> Ford Ranger Raptor – our main review