What's With The Extra Lights?
The 7-inch wider track necessitated wider bodywork of course, so all of the sheetmetal forward of the A-pillar is unique to the Raptor, and Ford designers have done a good a job as any to make the wide bodywork look top notch. It’s probably the best-looking wide-body truck short of a one-piece fiberglass front end from a trophy truck. The fenders bulge out prominently from the headlights and blend back into the doors by way of a fender-mounted vent. The bedsides also flare out, but are more subtle than the front due to their length. The extra width also called for additional marker lights, which you can find across the tailgate in red and across the grille and front fender in amber. The lights are unobtrusive LEDs that appear white when not lit.
OK, How Does It Drive?
When I had my chance behind the wheel, it was on the road at first, as Ford wanted us to get to know the truck in familiar conditions. My initial reaction was that I felt just as confident as in any truck. The wide track of the Raptor comes with little difference in ride height, so body roll is minimal. As I drove through Highway 78 I pushed the Raptor into corners and the truck responded predictably, with the big BFGs offering minimal tire noise. In fact, it seemed that at highway speeds the combined wind, engine, and tire noises nearly cancelled each other out. Raptor’s anticipated buyers, as with most SVT buyers, don’t mind a more aggressive exhaust, and the SVT team came through in that regard, letting the exhaust play a more prominent role in the sound package. I was not the only one to notice, as several other journalists made comments on the Raptor’s exhaust note, which is a nice mellow lope at idle and a low growl under throttle.
Now, How Does It Drive Off-Road?
To paraphrase the great fictional aviator Zapp Brannigan, the Ford Raptor, “is built like a steakhouse, but handles like a bistro.” I don’t know why people don’t quote him more often. I’ll be the first to admit that there were more capable off-road drivers among the members of the media that got to put the Raptor through its paces at its launch, but I can proudly say that I took full advantage of the Raptor’s sophisticated suspension. In the desert I manhandled the Raptor through some I-swear-I-am-in-total-control fishtails in 2wd with the rear locker engaged, but then I got the hang of it, at least a little, and before I knew it, my time behind the wheel of the Raptor was up. Without resorting to woo-hoos and yee-haws, I’ll do my best to put the experience into words. First off, Ford’s collaboration with Fox was time well spent, as the ride off-road is nowhere near as jarring as I would have expected. While any SVT member could hit the upper 90s on the course we had, I kept my speed to 30-35mph over the whoops, and 50-60 mph in the open washes, only breaking into the 70s towards the end of my lap when the wash was a bit wider and my confidence was high. I drove faster and more confidently as time went on, and although I never got the truck airborn, I did cycle through much of the suspensions travel and never felt as though I was being punished. The traction control button might as well be labeled “Push for Fun”, since the traction control elbows its way between your right foot and the throttle to stop any sort of yaw-induced shenanigans, the only way to take any wash at speed is with the system partially disabled, at least if you like drifting through them like I do. Thankfully you have the option.