Maine’s Carrabassett Valley is a veritable winter playland, if you follow the axiom that there is no cold weather just bad clothing. That’s especially so if you have a vehicle to get out there and take you playing no matter what the weather, the terrain or the conditions. Ford’s F-series-based Raptor is the unique one-off pickup that knows no driving boundaries.
Gliding over the frost heaves and undulating terrain of Route 16 from Madison and Route 27 north of Kingfield, the Raptor’s long-travel Fox Shock suspension is like nothing else on the market. Upgraded for 2019, the dual-tube Fox shocks are now endowed with adaptive dampers that work in real time to deliver a creamy ride over the most punishing terrain — on road or off-road, the habitat where this truck excels. Even the icy connector road — more suitable to snowmobiles than tire-shod vehicles — to the Huts and Trails parking lot for Flagstaff Lake couldn’t slow the Raptor, as four-wheel drive auto-mode proved to be more than sufficient. This truck is a beast.
The Raptor is not for everyone. This extroverted F-series is on one hand the very best F-series you can buy, but it also exists as an exercise of what a high-performance F-series can do when the engineers get free rein to exploit their research.
Brimming with unusual components, not the least of which is the delightful suspension, the Raptor also has Ford’s latest twin-turbo 3.5-liter high-output V-6 engine — the same basic engine that rests in the Ford GT hyper-car’s engine bay. Cranking out a stout 450 hp and a drive-shaft twisting 510 pound/feet of peak torque running through a standard 4WD system guided by a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Raptor is the fastest, most powerful half-ton pickup truck currently for sale.
Lest you think that the V-6 turbo-motor can’t handle a V-8, just listen to the Raptor’s oversized twin tailpipes burble on startup, and then howl when you ply the go-pedal. The Raptor is essentially an off-road pre-runner legalized for the street.
Why else would you have 17-inch bead-lock rims on the option list with B.F. Goodrich K02 all-terrain tires? Or an optional 4.10-ratio front axle with a Torsen differential. Add Terrain Management Control, with seven selectable drive modes for on-road and off-road travel, plus the new Trail Control system (think cruise control in the dirt) and you’ll better understand the Raptor’s mission.
Over 6 inches wider than a stock F-series pickup, the Raptor’s ride height and extra girth make up-close city driving sometimes a little strained, yet bounding over uneven terrain is just a warm-up for this athlete. Don’t be afraid, bankers; the Raptor is calm and collected on the superslab. Those tires don’t raise a ruckus at all and this pickup cruises superbly.
Ford has added new colors for 2019 — including Performance Blue, Velocity Blue and Agate Black — plus Recaro sport seats with Alcantara suede accents. These heated buckets with leather trim proved to be all-day supportive — as well as easy on the eyes and the backside.
Other standard fare includes the best running boards in the business, custom Dee Zee metal panels that are wide, serrated for grip and sliced with holes so mud and debris slip right back to earth; a reverse sensing system; plus a forward-collision warning system with emergency brake assist. Skid plates, of course, selectable 4WD, and a huge 36-gallon gas tank are included. EPA estimates are 13/18 mpg; we averaged 14.5 mpg for the week with lots of wintry driving. The Raptor can tow up to 8,000 pounds.
Ford’s Sync 3 info/entertainment panel now works on par with many other systems; Apple and Android compatibility are featured here, as well as Sirius and navigation. Discerning buyers can opt for a Bang & Olufsen sound system, part of package 802A ($9,365!), while a power sliding rear window, power pedals, 10-way front seats and more can be had for one-third of the premium stereo setup. Remote start ($195) and new LED side mirror spotlights ($175) would seem to be important options to select.
The Raptor is quick, stylish, and an extremely impressive performer. Available as a Supercab (starting at $53,840) or sampled CrewCab ($57,335-base) the Raptor will forever alter your perception of what a road-going truck can do. If you love to fly off-road, the Raptor will be more entertaining than any flight you can buy, and you won’t have to deal with testy TSA agents.