What is it?

When it comes to driving pick-up trucks, the Ford F-150 Raptor is the Daddy. This is one of the biggest trucks available, but it’s got so much power that it provides sportscar-like acceleration. Still, the new one has come in for a bit of criticism because of what’s under the bonnet. Out goes the legendary, 6.2-litre V8, and in comes a 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. You won’t be wanting for speed, though, as the engine produces 450 bhp – 39 bhp more than what you got with the V8. Torque is up substantially, too – you now get 510 lb-ft.

Engineered by Ford’s new “Ford Performance” division,the Raptor is the F-150 equivalent of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. And in the right circumstances it’s a ridiculously appealing machine to drive. Or even just to look at and clamber in and out of. In as much as it is the perfect off-road machine, Ford has out also blended the captivating nature of the Raptor so that it’s just as comfortable pulling up at a fancy hotel as it is bashing dunes.

How does it drive?

While you accept that the Ford F-150 Raptor is built for off-roading, you’ll also be using it as a daily runabout. This is no hardship, because it looks great and it’s reasonably refined on normal roads. Sure, it can be cumbersome in traffic-packed cities, and it requires patience when parking, but the ride is great and the way that you tower over other motorists is frankly hilarious.

It’s quick, too. You’ll see 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, which means you’ll be worrying Porsche Caymans at the lights. And the handling isn’t as bad as you’d expect of a car this size. There’s a fair bit of pitch and roll, but grip is good even on those chunky, off-road tyres. That’s thanks, in no small part, to the fact that the new Raptor is over 200 kg lighter than the previous one, with much of the body being built out of aluminum.

Off-road, this thing is a beast. As you’ll see from the video, it demolishes sand dunes like no-one’s business. The long suspension travel also means it’s not afraid of getting air and landing. It looks dramatic, but inside, all is sublime. It’s difficult to think of something this well suited to dune-bashing fresh out of the box.

Interior quality and tech

The Ford F-150 Raptor is vastly roomy with high a level of built-in tech. There’s a sophisticated touchscreen interface that’s user-friendly, and allows you to control pretty much everything to do with the car.

The tyres on the highway produce surprisingly little road noise, and the steering has a precision rarely seen in the pick-up class. Just be careful when parking around town; this car is massive, and it’s difficult to navigate small spaces thanks to the 12.9-metre turning circle.

Running costs

That new V6 engine, paired with the lighter load of the new Ford F-150 Raptor, pays serious dividends at the petrol pumps. You get a combined economy of 18 l/100 km. Okay, that’s not great by normal car standards, but this is a performance pick-up truck, so what did you expect? Opt for the SuperCrew model, with four doors, and you get a bigger, 137-litre fuel tank that’ll deliver a range of around 1,000 km. Handy, if you’re in the middle of nowhere. The downside is: That tank will cost a lot to fill – around AED 330 at current prices.

Insurance can be a problem, too. A lot of UAE insurers will shy away from covering the F-150 Raptor on a fully comprehensive basis. If you do find an insurer willing to take on the car, expect to pay between AED 7,000 and AED 9,000 for a fully comprehensive policy.

Our verdict

The Ford F-150 Raptor is one of the best-looking trucks that money can buy, but apart from its beautiful physical display, the Raptor is a sporty truck to the extreme. If you love cruising around, comfortably, in town or in the country, the Raptor can do that. But so can a host of other trucks. The Raptor’s real strength comes in the fact that, when you turn off the highway, towards the endless UAE desert, you’ll never, ever get stuck.