Ford Ranger Raptor long-term test: taking on the Hilux

  • 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
  • Latest update: Our Raptor vs the Toyota Hilux

Long-term test review of the Ford Ranger Raptor.

Report 7: Ranger Raptor vs Toyota Hilux

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: 6688 7,148
Official fuel economy: 31.7mpg (NEDC not WLTP)
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 (NEDC not WLTP)
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 (NEDC not WLTP)
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 (NEDC not WLTP)
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 (NEDC not WLTP)
Actual fuel economy: 28.12mpg

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

Report 2: No dumb truck

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 (NEDC not WLTP)
Actual fuel economy: 24.99mpg

Report 1: Haters gonna hate

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.

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

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