The Raptor just keeps getting better, and there’s nothing out there like it.
Rarely does a vehicle come along that makes me think, “People should be issued one of these at birth.” The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor is such a vehicle. The fact it’s one of the only production vehicles in the world designed – from the factory – to jump, is all you need to know about it.
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And Ford keeps making it better. For 2019, the Raptor gets a new set of beadlock wheels that hold the tires on when pressuring them down for rock crawling, available Recaros for front seat passengers, and a new adaptive suspension system that helps the highly capable Fox shocks match their aggressiveness to the terrain (or the air above it).
For this review, we’re not even testing a fully loaded Raptor. This model is missing a lot of options, which explains why it’s only $63,140 out the door (a fully loaded Raptor costs over $77,000). After a week spent bombing around suburbia, though, we’ve learned the Raptor’s bones, not its add-ons, are what make it so unique and special.
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The Raptor is in a class of one; there’s nothing else like it out there. So by default, it offers the lowest starting price in its class. But what about the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, the Ram Rebel, and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison, you ask? Those are all low-speed off-roaders, which, by the way, the Raptor can do too. But none of those three can follow the Raptor off-road at thrillingly fast speeds. Thus, the Raptor stands alone, and its $52,855 starting price is an entirely reasonable admission charge for the experience.
As mentioned, this particular Raptor isn’t fully loaded, but it does come with some options that push its price up to $63,515 – the price can get much higher. Those include the F-150’s 801A option package for $3,105 that comes with 10-way, heated, power front seats; leather upholstery; power adjustable pedals; a power sliding rear window; and a “FORD” applique plastered across the tailgate. Extra individual options on this truck include a spray-in bedliner ($595), lift-assist damping and a step for the tailgate ($375), a 4.10 front axle with Torsen differential ($500), a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert that covers the truck and a trailer ($590), a surround-view camera ($375), and LED side-mirror spotlights ($175).
Did I miss having niceties such as a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, and the available premium Bang & Olufsen sound system? Not one bit. All the fun parts on the Raptor – its engine, suspension, and steering – come standard.
Does anything look butcher than a Raptor? The cool part is that very little of the Raptor’s design is for show. Those super wide fenders are so big in order to cover the truck’s larger BFGoodrich KO2 off-road tires. The silver skid plate below the front nose is real metal because it protects the oily bits from getting banged up (when you land). And those air vents on the front fenders and hood? They’re real and draw hot air out of the engine compartment.
What I love most about the Raptor’s design is that it’s almost unrecognizable as an F-150. The hard points of the F-150 underneath that can’t change stay fixed while the body spills out beyond them. The truck looks like a flexed bicep that’s straining the fibers of its muscle tee.
Ford also offers some nice customization options to make each Raptor unique. There’s the paint; this one’s wearing new-for-2019 Velocity Blue. There are seven other colors to choose from, though. There’s also a Raptor Exterior Graphics package available for $1,075 and a Hood Graphics package for $900.
There are customization options available inside the Raptor too, but unlike the exterior, the cabin design is unmistakably F-150. Ford lets you jazz things up, though, with a Carbon Fiber package ($995) and Interior Color Accent package ($2,395), the latter of which comes with the aforementioned Recaro front sport seats trimmed in blue accents. The Raptor’s steering wheel even features a stitch of red leather at 12 o’clock to show you where dead-center is – a nice reminder this is a performance truck and not a beast of burden.
Surprisingly, the F-150 Raptor is an incredibly comfortable vehicle. It’s a little awkward to get in and out of because of its high ground clearance (running boards make a big difference), but once everyone’s in their seats, they’re as pampered as they would be in any well-optioned F-150.
This particular Raptor doesn’t have the new Recaros, which means the front seats are more forgiving with smaller bolstering. Rear-seat passengers, meanwhile, get the same bench seat found in other F-150s. Passenger space is incredibly generous, with more than enough room in every dimension for five adults.
The Raptor’s ride is very forgiving. Credit the new adaptive Fox suspension for tailoring the damping of each shock absorber to what the truck is doing at that moment and the ground it’s riding (or landing) on. Those big tires and the truck’s long suspension travel also make everything short of a felled tree barely noticeable from behind the wheel.
This is the Raptor’s secret selling point: the fact that it’s comfortable and well-mannered in normal circumstances. Unlike most purpose-built performance machines that are a chore to drive every day, the Raptor is amenable in every situation, from joining minivans in the pickup line at school to jumping dunes.
The F-150 features Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which is average amongst its competitive set. Its graphics are monotone but clearly laid out, its response times are acceptable, and it offers a fair number of connectivity options. Missing are extras such as wireless phone charging, but you do get plenty of 12-volt outlets and one 110-volt paired with a 400-watt inverter. This particular Raptor doesn’t come with navigation, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility comes to the rescue when directions are needed.
One thing we ding nearly all Fords for are the way their optional features are packaged. There are a few large option packages, but many of the most desirable options are sold individually, which lends to the feeling of being nickel and dimed when you’re spec’ing out your dream truck.
It would be easier to explore a Lamborghini’s performance limits than it is the Raptor’s. Lamborghinis are made for the street and we’ve got plenty of those around. The Raptor is made for places your navigation system labels “Unmapped,” and are harder to find. I was unable to find anywhere near me I could safely test the Raptor and its new Trail Control system off-road, a problem that I imagine many Raptor owners have.
Nonetheless, the performance potential of the Raptor is readily apparent even without an off-road course to test it. For one, the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engine produces 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, which is destined for all four wheels. Ford says that’s good for running to 60 miles per hour in six seconds flat, but it feels so much faster. All that torque is available early in the rev range thanks to those turbos, so dipping into the throttle means a quick and earnest kick in the pants. The truck’s 10-speed automatic transmission is a marvel of multiple ratios, and for the most part works invisibly, the exception being during hard braking when it’s indecisive about what gear you’ll wind up with.
The Raptor’s handling is entirely unique. Most people aren’t used to driving a truck like a sports car, especially one that’s sitting this high off the ground, but you can with the Raptor. That ride height, this suspension, and those knobby tires are all designed for off-road performance, but they’re a hoot on pavement too. Think of those stadium racing trucks that transition from dirt to pavement in a single race and you’ll have an idea of what driving the Raptor fast is like. There’s huge amounts of roll and movement in the body, but somehow, the handling never feels sloppy.
Because its tire tread is designed for dirt, the Raptor’s grip is somewhat compromised on pavement. The traction control system, though, has your back, and if you turn it off, tail-out shenanigans are but a toe-tap away.
The Raptor comes standard with LED headlights and familiar F-150 safety systems such as AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, Curve Control, and a rear-view camera with Dynamic Hitch Assist. Also standard are more advanced driver assist systems such as automatic emergency braking with pre-collision assist. This Raptor comes with an optional blind spot monitoring system and surround-view camera, two features for which I am very thankful given this truck’s generous proportions.
Also offered, but not on my tester, is a Trailer Brake Controller ($275), Ford’s unique inflatable second-row seat belts ($200), and the near fully autonomous Pro Trailer Backup Assist system ($395). The Raptor Technology package for $1,695 is where the rest of the safety tech resides and includes a lane-keeping system, lane departure warning, automatic high-beams, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality.
If you have to ask about the Raptor’s fuel economy, this truck’s probably not for you. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Raptor at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway, and 16 combined. I experienced about 15-16 mpg while driving the Raptor, which included a few long stints on the highway. I suspect my heavy right foot is to blame, though I pass responsibility to the Raptor itself because it’s impossible not to play with. At least it runs on regular gas and not premium fuel.