Let's just get this out of the way right up front: nobody at Ford was ever thinking about the Raptor in terms of a baby-toting car. That's absolutely fine. This is a vehicle designed for doing things off road in a flashy, loud, fun way, not puttering around town doing family things.
That also gives the truck one huge, unanticipated baby-car advantage: little kids love it, in almost a genetic way.
The 2013 Ford Raptor is absolutely not a baby car. But, despite a few pretty significant flaws, it can do the job surprisingly well, but maybe not well enough to convince the mother of your baby. But maybe. It's worth trying.
My two year old took one look at this thing and started to shake with excitement. Because it looks pretty much exactly like I took one of his truck toys and turned daddy's Shrink Ray on Full Maximum Reverse. It looks like a colossal toy, and kids— especially little boys— love it. In fact, this truck was loved by almost everyone who saw it. I say almost because I'm lying. Half the people who see the truck are pleased in some way, and the other half hate it, and it's a direct gender split.
I got stopped more times in the Raptor than in any other car I've tested so far. I think a lot of it has to do with Ford's great new front-end/grille/all those little lights treatment. And it was always men. This thing is a dude magnet. If you're looking to get a car to pick up girls as part of your generate-a-baby plan, look elsewhere. One guy stopped me while I was unloading Otto, my two-year old, as he was walking with his wife and toddler son.
"Hey… Honey, he's got a baby seat in there!" he called out to his wife as he trotted up to the truck, eyes wide with hope. He explained how he needed a new truck for his work, and he was really, really hoping to get a Raptor. He gestured to me, the baby, the toys on the floor, all the documentation of fatherhood in that big red beast.
"No," the wife replied, lips taut, eyes cold. "No."
Another female friend called it a "douchemobile."
But that may be a bit unfair. In actual use, a dad or mom could make good use of the Raptor for kid-hauling duties. I had the extended-cab version, not the full crew cab, and both my wife and I found the interior room just fine. Baby seat latches right into the LATCH system in the middle of the back seat, and there's still room for two people to comfortably sit on either side. The interior is loaded with storage areas and compartments, which is key in a toddler-car. There's a console in kicking range in front of the baby seat, which may be a minus to the parents, but Otto sure as hell thought it was fun to make noise pounding on it with his feet.
The rear suicide doors open wide enough to make entry fairly easy, but they do demand a lot of space on the side of the car when open. For such a ruggedized, high, long-travel suspension, the ride is quite good in city driving, comfortable on the highway, and all the climate-control systems, especially the heated/cooled seats are great.
There's other tiny details that work well for baby use that I'm sure the designers never considered, too. Like the little caps over screws. Kids love to pop these out, so I tried doing so myself, and was delighted to find it's actually tethered! No lost little caps!
And the sound— that massive 6.2L V8 makes a great, throaty rumble that dads and kids really love. Otto would grin like he was on whatever drugs grinning babies do when I stomped on the gas, and those 411 horses do a fine job of pulling this massive 7000 lb monster around.
There's some pretty big downsides as well, and the word big is at the root of them all. This truck is big. BIG big, It makes sense for the intended use of the Raptor, but in a moderately-dense city environment, every trip can be a chore. After my wife drove it with Otto for the first trip, she texted me to say this:
It's like driving an apartment building from the second floor.
And she's kind of right. You're way higher than anything— you can see what people are reading in city bus windows alongside you (50 Shades of Gray? Still?) When I get out of it, I look absolutely ridiculous. I'm a small guy, barely over five and a half feet tall, so when people see me exit the Raptor from across the street, they say to one another "Did a raccoon wearing a T-shirt just jump out of that truck?"
I know fellow auto journalist Matt Farah has one of these, and on him it totally works. He's a big, bold, fun guy, and it just fits. I think I looked a bit silly. That doesn't really bother me, but other size-related issues did. Like the gas mileage.
Ford should seriously consider disabling the in-dash MPG feature on this car. It's just depressing. Driving carefully, I was barely able to keep it over 10 MPG. Having fun, it dips to about 9.5 or so, and on the highway I was lucky to get 11.2 MPG. It's a thirsty, thirsty beast. The miles-to-empty indicator seems to work on the most pessimistic algebra ever developed by a suicidal mathematician, because a 5 mile trip to the store would make it plummet by 15 or more miles. I don't get it. I don't know if Ford is planning a V6 or, better, a Diesel version of the Raptor, but it would be very welcome.
Other size issues have to do with the height. Getting a squirming toddler in and out is tricky when you've essentially got a a couple of steps to climb to get them inside. You can't just put them in the seat, you have to climb up and shove them in there. And getting out means you're hopping down before you can set them down. It's not the worst thing, but it's a factor.
The massive size is somewhat mitigated by the most useful camera system I've ever used in any car. Other rear-view backup cameras I've always found disorienting, but the Raptor's proved incredibly handy. I think it's because it's positioned in such a way that you can actually see the rear bumper, which makes positioning far easier. There's a front camera as well, which can only be accessed in off-road mode, but it's very handy. I used it to not turn an MG Midget into a trundle bed while parking.
Having a truck as a family/baby car I think has much more merit than people realize, brainwashed as we are by the SUV/Minivan/wagon triumvirate. The bed holds all his strollers and riding toys, not just one barely crammed in, and a truck bed makes a great instant playroom or half-assed ball crawl.
Otto loved dancing around in the red, loud bed, and when I dumped in a bunch of his balls and stuffed shark, it was like he was in toddler heaven's red steel box of fun. You could throw four toddlers and some toys into the truck bed in a parking lot and you've got an instant kid party.
If you're interested in a Raptor already, and have a life partner and a kid, I can comfortably say that, yes, you can make this work for occasional kid duties, and sometimes even it may be a preferred kid car. But there's big caveats— if you live outside an urban area and have plenty of cash to burn on gas, then have at it, but I wouldn't suggest this as your only toddler-hauler.
So, guys (an assumption, yes, but I think a safe one), if you have about $50 grand and this is your dream truck, and you need help convincing your wife, I hope this article helps. But don't email me when she yells at you because it's such an ass-pain to park.