I know what you’re thinking. ”Did he just paraphrase Zapp Brannigan?” Yes. I did. Despite its size and heft, the Raptor is capable of some impressive, even elegant, maneuvering, both on and off road.
Well, maybe not so much off-road with me behind the wheel. In the desert I manhandled the Raptor through some out-of-frequency 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 Raptor was up. I’ll regale you with my dales of driving prowess later. First, what exactly makes a Raptor a Raptor?
Starting with an off-the-rack F-150 frame, Raptor engineers cut, moved, and reinforced exactly zero suspension mounting points. That’s right, the same F-150 frame that underpins every other F-150 that rolls off the assembly line is as equally suited for high-speed desert runs as it is for towing huge loads and serving as a commercial workhorse. Granted, the Raptor does employ extensive skid plates not found on a typical F-150, protecting the chassis and engine from the typical obstacles and hazards you might come across while running high-speed in the desert: rocks, cacti, coyote, roadrunners, ACME-brand land mines, etc. The only difference in suspension mounting we were able to notice on the frame is that the spring pockets use a wedge-shaped mounting ring to cant the coilovers a few degrees outboard to mount to the beefy, pressure-cast aluminum Raptor-specific lower control arms. The upper arms are also Raptor-specific, but are forged steel. Rather than dropping the suspension mounting points, which is the norm for most aftermarket lifts, Ford engineers widened the track of the Raptor like aftermarket long-travel suspensions do. The longer pivot of the new arms allows for a 35-inch tall, extensively-siped and Raptor-specific BFG All Terrain tire that has 11.2 inches of suspension travel. New, longer half-shafts were needed to compensate for the 3.5-inch increase in width per side. The rear gets an equally-impressive 12.1 inches of travel through a reinforced version of the F-150’s 8.8-inch axle. With thicker axle tubes and stronger axles, the electronic-locker-equipped axle is capable of enduring some hard landings, as evidenced by all of the videos Ford has posted on YouTube and have gone viral throughout the off-road community.