The Ford Raptor Pickups Are Dinosaurs That Won’t Die

It’s a dino eat dino world out there. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Courtesy Ford
The Ford F-150 Raptor R. Courtesy Ford

Blasting down a sandy trail across California’s Johnson Valley in the new 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R pickup, I looked down at the speedometer and saw that I had hit 100 mph, so I did what any sane person would do. I floored it.

A few seconds later the digital readout displayed 112 mph, which is the full-size truck’s restricted top speed, and decided it was time to press the brake pedal instead of my luck. But I really wanted to keep going.

The original F-150 Raptor debuted in 2010 and accidentally changed the pickup game. Designed to be the production version of a “trophy truck” off-road racing vehicle that could speed through desert and leap through the air, it was built on a lark, but turned out to be a runaway hit. Ford sold far more than expected and followed it up with a second generation in 2017 and a third in 2021.

The Ford F-150 Raptor R. Courtesy Ford

Its popularity spawned competitors from other automakers, but not a true challenger until the Ram 1500 TRX arrived on the scene in 2021 with all of the F-150 Raptor’s capability plus a 702 hp supercharged V8 that made it the most powerful gas-powered pickup ever built. Electrics have outclassed it since, with the Hummer EV boasting 1,000 hp but also 2,500 more pounds to carry around.

The TRX name was a tip of the hat to T. Rex, who vanquished the raptors in the “Jurassic Park” film. The F-150 Raptor only had a 450 hp turbocharged V6 at the time, but Ford had something in the works. In 2023 it launched the F-150 Raptor R with its own supercharged V8 nicknamed “The Carnivore” that was rated at … 700 hp? Really, you couldn’t muster up another three horsepower?

The Ford F-150 Raptor R frame. Courtesy Ford

But while the TRX went out of production last year when Ram discontinued all of its V8 engines, Ford kept tweaking the Raptor R’s genes and found another 20 horses under the hood by redesigning the vents on top of it. That allowed the engine to breathe better and the truck to reclaim its spot on the top of the food chain.

It’s really what’s underneath the Raptor R that makes it special. It rides on a complex computer-controlled suspension system that allows it to ride over whoops at high speeds and leap through the air over big bumps.

I hit one of the latter at 65 mph that sent the truck about five feet high in the air and across 60 feet of sand before it landed, with the suspension cradling it like someone catching an egg without it breaking. A set of chunky 37-inch all-terrain tires helps to cushion landings and climb up rocks when you don’t want to jump.

The Ford Ranger Raptor interior. Courtesy Ford

The three-ton behemoth truly is an impressive beast, and so is its price, which is $112,360, but it is loaded with all of the creature comforts of a luxury truck. Don’t forget to budget for gas, though, because it has an EPA rating of 12 mpg combined and chugs premium fuel. Nevertheless, the Raptor R is in such demand, dealers are marking them up by tens of thousands of dollars.

You can still get the regular V6 Raptor, which is essentially the same truck just with less power, for $80,435, but Ford has a better budget option now.

The Ford Ranger Raptor jumps. Courtesy Ford

The midsize Ranger pickup is all-new for 2024 and along with the mainstream models is offered in a Raptor trim.

Essentially a scaled-down version of the F-150 Raptor, it features the same type of suspension design, 33-inch tires and a 405 hp turbocharged V6. My time in one came on the other coast, in the pine barrens of New Jersey.

It is actually better in this environment, where its smaller size allows it to fit into the much tighter trails, but it is still plenty fast and ready for takeoff when the opportunity arises.

The Ford F-150 Raptor R shocks. Courtesy Ford

I think I spent as much time airborne as on the ground, and it didn’t miss a beat or beat me up. The suspensions in both the Ranger Raptor and Raptor R are also plush and comfy on the highway for the ride home.

Ford won’t want to sit on its laurels too long, however, as Ram has already teased that it has a new TRX in the works, and you can be sure that it will be looking to vanquish its rival once again.

It’s a dino eat dino world out there, enjoy it while it lasts.

The automaker provided travel to facilitate this review


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