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Tacoma versus Raptor: Summer Vacation Edition

Tacoma versus Raptor: Summer Vacation Edition

While the change in vehicles might seem like a natural progression to some, or even an obvious move, it was anything but. Due to a string of unfortunate events at the beginning of our 2 week road trip, the '06 Tacoma with 260K miles started to show its age. The record breaking heat in the western half of the United States was taking its toll on aged vehicles, seizing pulleys, snapping belts, blowing radiators, and warping gaskets. The infamous words on the Toyota Dealership’s diagnostic sheet, "new head gasket", threatened to end our trip before it started.

This is what prompted us to get setup in a 2018 Raptor for the remainder of the trip, with the only concern being “can it hold all of our gear for the next 2 weeks in the bed alone?” The Tacoma was outfitted with a bed shell, and a roofrack that went the length of the vehicle, enabling a decent haul of gear. Worry not though, the entire contents of the Tacoma were stuffed into the basic bed of the Raptor - surprise #1.

The next shit-eating grin came when smashing the pedal on the highway, with 800lb of gear in tow, and breezing past 80mph like we were in a modern lightweight sedan. There’s no comparison between a 450hp twin turbo V6 and the Toyota’s naturally aspirated V6 with its mediocre 236hp, barely pushing 70hp uphill with the gear. “But but but whats your mpg?!” - 14.8 mpg was the average across 1800 miles of Utah and Colorado, about what the Tacoma would have seen, if not better. And there was no doing 90mph down long straights of empty expanse in the Taco.

Black Bear Pass in a Raptor

With the Raptor body being 9 inches wider than the Tacoma, a lot of talk came up about trail running: how is a full sized truck going to handle the narrow paths in the Colorado mountains? While there are some narrow parts with rocky ledges, there were only a couple spots that gave the Raptor a squeeze. Particularly on Black Bear pass, the first switchback going down is the infamous one, causing all types of Toyotas and Jeeps to pull a 3 point turn to manuever down. In the Raptor it was more like a 7 point turn due to the wide turning radius and wide body getting within inches of the rocky median. There were another couple spots where the mirrors had to be brought in and the tires rubbed against the rocky walls, but we escaped without even the fear of body damage or issue.


The last time I ran these trails, it was in the Tacoma with an ICON stage 8 system, utilizing adjustable front and rear dampers, with the RXT progressive leaf pack in the rear and hydraulic bumpstops. Even with substantial suspension work on 33” BFG tires, the Tacoma’s ride control and comfort is significantly less capable compared to the Raptor. Ford’s out-of-the-box solution is 2.5” Fox shocks, sitting on 35” BFG tires, which make quick work for a lot of these mountainous trails, even the rocky section where most vehicles would slow crawl through.

The Raptor didn’t need to let up, and easily made short work of every type of terrain, all while holding decent speed from the dirt, to the rock, and back to the dirt again, obstacles be damned. While the Ford is mostly known as a high speed desert runner, the suspension’s incredible capabilities spill over into all manners of terrain.

Considering the power, the interior and exterior space and storage, and the suspension, and the Ford could easily replace my Tacoma as a full time adventure rig and overland solution... if it wasn’t for the hefty price tag. The Raptor sells for more than twice what I paid for the Tacoma, and arguably holds more of its value over time considering used 2017 models are still going for $65k. The big question is, will the Raptor engine hold up after 250k miles?

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