The Raptor Returns!
Raptor in summertime seems to be a tradition here at CRD and we’re not taking one minute for granted this time! Last year we were too busy to take the beast into its off-road element and (gasp) barely discovered its drive modes until the last day or so.
Not happening this time.
The 2019 refresh of the coolest and most capable factory off-roader ever made got a thorough test and a great drive video too! We savored every moment during this Raptor visit and have some awesome insights, highs and lows to share with you, loyal readers.
But first: what’s new this year? We’ll highlight changes in each section below.
Spoiler alert: spending any time in a Raptor is usually a total lovefest, and this one is no different. Taking the truck through some gnarly off-road trails, over jumps and through a muddy clay pit brought new awe to this driver and fanboy. Plus, the truck now hangs on tight around fast corners and has none of the suspension slop from years before when driving extra hard on twisty roads.
Performance Road Test Review Video
Has there every been a cooler factory truck? The Raptor is so intensely attractive in the flesh that it even makes well-modified pickups seem just basic and boring.
The face of Raptor is still as mean as ever with this mid-cycle refresh leaving the nose as is — no bad thing at all.
The chopped front bumper with open-air elements lets the ultra gnobby tires stand proudly visible from straight ahead. Heck, you can even see the gigantic titanium-alloy A-arms from nearly any angle up front. The metal for these pieces is thicker than a big man’s wrist and reinforces what a beating Raptor can take and come out smiling.
So what’s new outside? Not much.
A new (available) tailgate accent with jumbo FORD letters matches the coolness of the FORD script in the front grille this year, as well as a few new colors, including our test truck with its slightly-lighter shade of Ford Performance Blue vs the Velocity Blue that is also available (and carry-over from before.)
Ford Performance Blue is slightly darker, slightly more muted than Velocity Blue. They are very close and it took seeing a Velocity Blue Raptor on the road to be able to tell the difference in real life.
Optional bead-lock alloys also join the party if you cough up $1900 extra bucks. These are wheels that keep the tires snapped to the wheels at all times versus letting the wheel spin within the tire — as can happen in the most extreme scenarios when you have let the pressure almost completely out of the tires for ultra-deep snow or sand driving.
Curious that there is no on-the-fly tire pressure adjustment available at any price. Many military folks will attest for how handy it is to be able to deflate or pump up your tires from inside the truck.
Another thing we wish Raptor had is much simpler than self-inflating tires: an exterior without a tall radio antenna.
Yes, this 2019 model has a fixed aerial antenna in its passenger hood area, complementing the shark fin satellite receiver on the roof. This aerial is not usually a big deal until you hit the woods, when it can take a beating from bushes and branches on the edges of trails. Yes, we should have unscrewed it beforehand.. but still seems like a silly piece of yestertech on such a sophisticated vehicle.
The off-road course here in SC had ultra tight trails, granted, and the antenna survived good-as-new despite taking a beating out there!
For the record, the owners of this land (GTR Complex in Lexington County, South Carolina) told us that every other truck that’s gone on this Jeep trail has gotten stuck — except us. Big score for the Raptor. Just wish we could’ve taken some of these sweet jumps that were for dirtbikes only…!
Off-Roading the Raptor
New on the inside are upgraded Sync touchscreen with full Apple CarPlay and the thrones.
New Recaro buckets also join the party for the 2019 model-year and beyond as a $2400 option called the Blue Interior Color Group — bringing race-level support and all-day comfort in the best ways imaginable. Oh, and they are fully power-adjustable and now have cooling too!? Love it!
The Blue cabin pack also brings dark-tinted carbon details for the shifter and door accents.
Many drivers will go for the full-fat “802A” option package for $9400 that includes basically all the other substantive options. This mega pack brings the 4.10 front axle with Torsen limited slip diff, the thumpin’ Bang & Olufsen stereo, carbon pack, snazzy seats, 360-degree cameras and more.
This is how our tester was equipped and it seems like a perfect driveway companion to the hottest and latest exotics on the market. Raptor can hold its own in any company.
What’s new mechanically? Fresh, first-of-their-kind shocks from Fox Racing take the on-road handling to a new level of awesomeness when in Sport, but make off-road landings and jumps even smoother when in the right settings. These Live Valve Fox Shox are a super win all around.
The next big upgrade we noticed is the exhaust note, which now sounds much more yowl-y and less farty than before on full throttle. This new sporty sound almost makes it okay that there’s no V8 in front — and is much more lovable overall than the truck sounded before.
Is it quicker? It certainly seems to be, especially in its Sport drive modes, where the transmission also seems just a bit snappier and more responsive than last year’s truck.
All these settings mellow out considerably in normal drive modes for street driving, and the suspension is able to get even softer for its offroad settings.
One note we have for the 2019 model-year is that it is just slightly firmer on the highway than before. This gives much more control but it would be nice if the super marshmallow setting was able to be selected manually outside the major drive modes. (While we didn’t find this setting in the system it is possible that it exists.)
Sounds much better, feels much quicker and has serious control for mountain road corners!? The 2019 Raptor performance keeps getting better and better.
Our tester had the big 802A “everything” package, as noted, as well as the tech pack, back seat heaters and sprayed-in bedliner. This took the total price to just under $72k. All the details on the race-red Ford Performance window sticker below.
Are there any caveats with this pricing? Resale value is rock-solid so no problems there. Just a few things to note about the costs of running the truck. Filling the enormous fuel tank with its 550+ mile range costs almost $80 at current prices, which is slightly shocking the first few times you fill up.
And as fun as it was getting the truck filthy dirty at the off-road park… it was seriously tough to get it really clean again. Driving back to Charleston from the course, the Raptor had to be packing 500 extra pounds of red clay and mud in its many crevases. We spent about $55 at the DIY spray-n-wash (thankfully it too credit cards so not all quarters!) trying, and mostly failing, to get the Raptor totally clean. The lack of fender liners and the open nature of the upper truck bed, bumpers, running boards and everything else meant that every time we thought the Raptor was clean… we’d aim the nozzle somewhere else in the underbody and it would start raining down hot brown water and clods of dirt yet again.
Just something to consider as you get as dirty as possible in this mud-loving monster truck.
Did we live out the muddin’ dreams of every kid riding a Raptor PowerWheels, though? Oh f*** yea!
Is Raptor the ultimate factory off-road truck? We’d say yes, and actually say it is the ultimate road-legal baja master. It is impossible for most aftermarket lifts and wheel/tire packages to come anywhere close to the brilliant strength and expert tuning this Raptor beings as standard.
Coolest, most bad-ass and most fun truck on the market? Year after year, it continues to be the rockstar Ford Raptor.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.