The Ford F-150 Raptor is a doozy of a truck. With features that make it a desert prerunner right out of the box, the Raptor is a truck that can take pretty much anything you throw at it. However, with the new Raptor’s 37-inch tire option, has this go-fast pickup reached the point of diminishing returns?
For this latest F-150 Raptor, Ford revised the rear suspension, adding a five-link setup with more travel and longer trailing arms. Larger 3.1-inch Fox Live Valve shocks are installed at each corner. These babies can handle 1,000 pounds of damping force at each corner at high speeds and can change damping rates 500 times per second. Drivers have their choice of seven different terrain modes: Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Normal, Off-Road, Baja and Rock Crawl. Each of these adjust the Raptor’s stability control, shocks, throttle mapping, shift points, steering feel and more.
Under the hood, the Raptor uses the same 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 as before. Some folks bemoan the loss of a V8 engine, but don’t worry, the Raptor R is on its way to make all your gas-guzzling dreams come true. Even so, the V6’s 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque are more than adequate, and I’ve always been a fan of Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
My test truck is equipped with 37-inch tires, part of the $7,640 Raptor 37 Performance Package. With these larger tires I get 13.1 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 33.1 degrees, a breakover angle of 24.4 degrees and a departure angle of 24.9 degrees. That’s helpful as I start off in Rock Crawl mode and head out to Heartbreak Hill in Johnson Valley, California. This was part of last year’s infamous King of the Hammers race course and it’s easy to see why. The hill climb is steep with loose rocks at the bottom, which turn into larger rocks embedded into the hillside.
The Raptor’s low range gearing is only 2.64:1, but with 4.10 axles and all that torque, the truck doesn’t have any problems conquering Heartbreak Hill. I do have to watch my choice of driving line, though, what with the truck’s 12-foot-long wheelbase. On my first pass I use the one-pedal trail drive function so I can concentrate on finding the correct line and not worry about left-foot braking. When I lift the throttle this tech applies the brakes proportionally. It’s a neat trick and something that newbies will appreciate.
The rear locking differential helps here, too, but I wish there were a front locker. Still, front wheel slip is pretty minimal thanks to the Torsen differential, but folks who really want to rock crawl will likely want to install an aftermarket front locker. Not only will it allow them to go further afield, it keeps the front tires from spinning, creating holes in the dirt other vehicles might not be able to handle.
If rock crawling is your jam, you should definitely opt for the 37-inch tires. You get more sidewall which means better grip, increased off-road geometry and more ground clearance. However, what you lose is suspension travel. These larger shoes limit overall travel to 13 inches in the front and 14 inches in the rear. Swap those tires out for the standard 35-inchers and you gain an inch of travel both front and rear. However, the 35s allow for “only” 12 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 31 degrees, a breakover angle of 22.7 degrees and a departure angle of 23.9 degrees. Those are still very good numbers.
The 37s’ reduced suspension travel makes me curious about how this truck will handle high-speed desert whoops. The Raptor has always been the best truck for this kind of terrain and the new rear suspension makes it even better. After a few warm-up passes, I’m able to get the truck up to 65 mph, and I can feel that it’s more stable than ever, never wavering or doing what I call the hula dance, when the rear end bounces side to side.
However, despite only losing an inch of travel, the 37s limit the capability. Wearing the 35-inch tires I could likely go just a bit faster before overwhelming the suspension, or travel through whoops that are a little bit deeper. Sure, the 37s are getting the job done, but if top speed is your goal, the 35s are what you want.
That’s also true if you want to save money at the pump. With the 35-inch tires, the F-150 Raptor has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. With the 37s you’ll see 15 city, 16 highway and 15 combined, and during my time with my tester on 37s I only averaged 13.7 mpg. Yikes.
The 2022 F-150 Raptor is only available in a SuperCrew body style with a 5.5-foot bed. While I didn’t get to tow with this truck, Ford says it can pull 8,200 pounds. For Home Depot runs you can load 1,400 pounds in the bed.
Inside, the Performance Package adds a set of cool Recaro front seats in Rhapsody Blue that are both heated and cooled. I also love that there are six auxiliary switches just waiting to be wired up with a winch or extra lights. The Raptor has some cool aluminum trim around the 12-inch touchscreen that runs Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment software, which is now capable of receiving over-the-air updates.
If you’ll be using your Raptor out in the desert, I highly recommend springing for the Pro Power Onboard package. This adds a 2-kilowatt generator that can run lights, power tools, a fridge full of frosty beverages — you name it. The Raptor also gets a slew of standard driver-assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and blind-spot monitoring that can cover the length of a trailer. If you want the cool Pro Trailer Backup Assist that helps with trailering, you’ll have to pay extra.
When you look at the larger pickup truck class, there really isn’t much that can touch the Raptor. Sure, you can go with the Ram 1500 TRX, but with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 under the hood, that might be more power than most people can handle. The new Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 is a great ride, but it doesn’t have the suspension travel to keep up with the Raptor. And the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro? Forget it. Not even close.
Of course, you’ll pay for the privilege. The 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor starts at $71,700 including $1,795 for delivery. My dream Raptor with the towing package, Pro Power Onboard and the Raptor High package with the Torsen front differential, heated second row seats and steering wheel, wireless phone charger, rain-sensing wipers and few other bibs and bobs comes to $77,450. That’s about $3,000 less than the Ram TRX’s starting price.
The biggest decision you’ll need to make with the Raptor is tire size. If you know you’ll spend a lot of time crawling over rocks, the 37-inch tires will likely serve you better. However, if you want to attack whoops in the desert and get better fuel economy on pavement, the 35s are the way to go. Bigger isn’t always better, y’all.