By Derek Price
Anyone who’s had the good fortune of taking a Raptor into a field or desert and mashing the gas pedal to the floor knows one thing: this machine is on another planet from every other factory-built pickup.
Heavily modified from the ordinary F-150, the Raptor has a wider stance, dramatically longer suspension travel, aggressive tires, advanced 4×4 traction control, unmistakable look and — of course — monster power that lets it blast through unwelcoming terrain at extremely high speeds.
Designed not just for slowly lumbering over trails and rocks like most of its competitors, the Raptor is built to gobble up miles of wilderness at freeway speed. No other factory-warrantied pickup comes close to its ability to make a cow pasture feel smooth as glass at 80 mph.
It would be easy for Ford to relax while customers happily pay up for the privilege of driving the king of Baja-style driving, starting over $50,000. But they’re not letting off this truck’s richly rewarding gas pedal one bit.
FOX shocks have long played a key role in the Raptor’s otherworldly performance. For 2019, Ford worked directly with the racing-suspension experts at FOX to create what they’re calling Live Valve technology that takes the system to a new level.
This system adjusts suspension damping in real time by electronically controlling valves in the shocks. It results in more comfort on the pavement, better performance off-road and better resistance to bottoming out the suspension.
It even has sensors that detect when the truck is midair — a unique need for the Raptor — so it can make the damping as stiff as possible to absorb the energy of the truck’s landing.
There are improvements to low-speed control, too. Trail Control works like cruise control for off-roading, letting the driver select a speed between 1 and 20 mph. The truck will control the throttle and brakes on its own to maintain that speed, freeing the driver to fully concentrate on maneuvering in difficult conditions.
Finally, Ford is making Recaro sport seats available in the Raptor this year. With lots of bolstering, they do a good job at holding people in place while this truck does what it’s built to do — conquering tough terrain at speed.
Beyond the jaw-dropping off-road capability, the most noteworthy thing about this truck is the smooth, turbine-like whirr that emanates when you press the throttle. The feeling is more like a spaceship than a traditional V8 rumble thanks to the highly boosted V6 under the hood.
In fact, “sci-fi off-roader” is the best way I can describe driving this current-generation Raptor. It’s a rolling showcase of amazing off-road hardware and software, like it was dropped here from another planet to instantly make every other off-road pickup feel out of date.
Pricing starts at $52,855 and can easily top $70,000 with customization options.
At A Glance
Wheelbase: 134.2 in.
Length: 220 in.
Width: 96.8 in.
Height: 78.5 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 (450 hp, 510 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 15 city, 18 highway
Why buy it?
It’s the most capable off-road pickup for sale today, designed not just for low-speed traction but also high-speed blasts through the wilderness. Its FOX suspension is now electronically controlled for better comfort and performance.