Our time in the Raptor began with a mundane highway drive from Las Vegas to a small town called Pahrump. We eagerly grabbed the keys to a Raptor with the larger 37-inch tires to find out if such massive rubber ruined the everyday livability. The short answer; absolutely not. At highway speeds, the Raptor feels shockingly stable, especially with the standard lane-keep assist active. The Raptor is currently confirmed to receive Ford’s hands-free Blue Cruise system, but even the lesser lane-keep system in the standard Ford Co-Pilot360 bundle does an excellent job keeping the massive truck centered in its lane. We didn’t notice too much wind or tire noise entering the cabin, and the off-road suspension makes bumpy roads feel insignificant.
After arriving at our hotel stop, we asked the locals to recommend some fun driving roads nearby. The locals did not disappoint. They directed us to a winding canyon road where we could push the Raptor beyond what most owners would ever do. Again, the Raptor delivered. We placed the truck into its Sport setting, which tightens up the steering, firms up the suspension, and places the exhaust into shouty mode. The Raptor has a different steering system than the standard F-150, and it’s instantly noticeable. While the normal F-150 features relaxed steering, the Raptor feels pinpoint accurate, enabling more connected feedback to the driver. Even with a nearly 6,000-pound curb weight and 37-inch tires, the Raptor feels spry ripping around a canyon road. Ford’s clever engineering can only fight physics for so long, so you do have to slow down a bit through the tighter bends, but we couldn’t believe how well the truck performed here.
Some owners will be content to drive their Raptor exclusively on the road, but this would be doing a disservice to Ford’s engineering team. In somewhat backward fashion, we grabbed the keys to a Raptor with 35-inch tires to see how it fared off-road. We placed the Raptor into its Baja Mode for our desert excursion, adjusting the dampers for maximum response, re-tuning the braking force at the rear, maximizing the steering control, setting the drivetrain to 4H, and fully opening the valves in the exhaust. Baja Mode is perfect for high-speed off-road stunts, but Off-Road and Rock Crawl modes are also available for slower obstacles.
Ford developed the Raptor with an exclusive five-link rear suspension system, which helps deliver more power to the road, improve acceleration times and on-road comfort, and inspire more driver confidence. Along with the new rear setup, the Raptor gets the latest Fox Live Valve internal bypass shocks, which provide up to 1,000 pounds of damping per corner. Sensors in the suspension can read and adjust to the road 500 times per second, meaning the Raptor can float over even the most intense off-road obstacles. Ford invited us to drive the Raptor over some whoops (a series of small bumps positioned closely together) as a trophy truck might do, and the truck cruised over them without sending us to the chiropractor. With 25% more wheel travel than the first-generation model, this new Raptor should live up to any torture test. We even had the opportunity to get all four wheels off the ground over a sand dune, and the truck landed like a gentle giant; we might go so far as to call the experience comfortable. In terms of off-road and on-road performance, there’s no area where the Raptor disappoints.