Performance pickup trucks aren’t usually considered in the same category as, say, a performance sports car. A sports car is supposed to go very fast around a track--that’s what is considered to be a good performance. Performance in a pickup truck is usually measured differently. Instead of time it takes to run around a track, it’s measured in pounds of towing or payload.
There is only one truck that measures its performance in the same way as a sports car. And it can measure that performance either on or off-road.
The Ford Raptor began as the SVT Raptor way back in 2009 as a dedicated off-road version of the F-150. Originally it came with the same 5.4-L or 6.2-L V8 as every other Ford pickup, but the Raptor was given enormous Fox Racing shocks and 35-inch tires to handle off-roading better than any full-size pickup before it.
And truck enthusiasts loved it. Sales were much better than Ford anticipated, and the truck even started getting upgraded by tuning garages like Hennessey and Shelby.
The SVT Raptor would remain on sale for 5 years before Ford finally pulled the plug, much to the pickup market’s dismay. But two years later they’d bring the truck back with the latest generation of F-150. And what they brought shocked the world
Instead of a big V8 engine as virtually every pickup on the market had, the new Raptor had an engine better suited for an expensive mid-engine supercar: a 3.5-L twin-turbo EcoBoost V8. Incidentally, a tuned version of that same engine would indeed find its way into Ford’s mid-engine supercar, the GT, which has even more power than found on the Raptor.
People were aghast. Full-size pickups had V8 engines and that was the end of it. Purists were skeptical--that is, until they got inside the new Raptor to see what it could do.
What it could do was something no other pickup truck had ever done before.
Zero to sixty was done in under 6 seconds thanks to 450 hp, which was 39 more than the previous model. Better yet, the Raptor has 510 lb-ft of torque, letting you really feel the power at every stage of acceleration.
Mated to the 3.5-L EcoBoost was Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, which although very fuel efficient, was barely strong enough to handle the Raptor’s power.
The Raptor retains the big Fox Racing shocks, but the 2019 model has new Live Valve technology. Essentially an adaptive suspension, the Live Valve shocks now read throttle, braking, and steering to determine just how the system should react. It even has sensors to determine if the truck is in midair and sets the struts to full stiffness to absorb the landing.
Not many trucks need to worry about going airborne.
Although the Raptor is designed to go as fast as possible off-road, in 2019 it can also slow it down with the new Trail Control feature. Much like Toyota’s Crawl Control, Trail Control is exactly like off-road cruise control. It allows the driver to set a slow constant speed without needing to keep their foot on the gas and allows them to focus on avoiding obstacles. An available 360-degree camera also helps with low-speed maneuvering.
On the outside, the Raptor gets skid plates to protect its delicate internals, twin tow hook locations on the front and rear bumpers, and LED headlights with rain lamp wipers. And of course, there’s a big bed in the back to store whatever you’d like to carry.
The inside of the Raptor is pretty much the same as a mid-level F-150, which is to say entirely unimpressive. At base, the Raptor comes with the essentials: single-zone air conditioning, 8-way adjustable power driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a Wifi hotspot. An 8-inch infotainment in the center dash looks entirely dated, but at least comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
However, the Raptor can easily be upgraded to have whatever luxury technologies you want. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane keeping is just an equipment package upgrade away, as are heated auto-dimming side mirrors and dual-zone climate control. Heated and vented seats are another upgrade, unless you go for the new Recaro bucket seats with Alcantara trim.
With a base price of $52,855, Ford does an excellent job of keeping the Raptor within the realm of affordable, although adding in all available technologies and a few convenience features will easily put you past $70,000. Add in some personalization and it’s possible to reach even further.
So the Raptor is not exactly cheap, even for a pickup. But speaking without a hint of hyperbole, the Raptor is in a class all to itself. No other pickup truck from Ram or Chevrolet even comes close. You could get a Silverado LT Trail Boss, but you’ll be down 100 hp. The Ram Limited has some truly impressive on-road performance, but it still can’t compare to the Raptor for power.
It certainly seems that the Raptor will remain the sole performance pickup available for some time to come. At least, until the electric revolution sweeps it away, but that’s not coming until 2020 at the very earliest.