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A red 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is shown from the side while off-road.

One Clever Girl: How the F-150 Raptor Dominates Its Off-Road Competition

When Ford debuted the F-150’s Raptor trim level in 2010 as the F-150 SVT Raptor, buyers started to notice just how oriented it was for off-roading. It has gained a lot of attention since then, and now there is the Raptor R, a trim level variant that debuted in July of 2022 for the 2023 lineup. Ford also debuted an entry-level off-road F-150 called the Rattler, but the Raptor is still the trim level that makes headlines for the F-150.

As you search for a Ford F-150 dealer, think about all the competition the Raptor faces. Since it debuted, other automakers have put out off-road-oriented pickup trucks that try their best to match the Raptor’s abilities. Do any of them beat the Raptor, or do they all fall short? That is something you should know going forward. Before we jump into how the Raptor stacks up against the competition, it is time to learn about the must-have features a truck should have for off-roading and what exactly the Raptor has to offer its owners.

Must-Have Features for Off-Roading

There are a few key features that are necessary to make a pickup a great off-roader. One of the most important things you need is all-wheel drive (AWD). Whenever slippage is detected, the AWD system will automatically send an equal amount of torque to the front and rear differentials. Whether you are driving on snow, ice, or in the dirt, this helps keep up stability and traction control. AWD capability differs between automakers, though, and some of them work better than others. For example, part-time 4WD might not give you enough traction while off-roading, and its struggles can be hard on the vehicle. Having a 4×4 with low range is therefore important since it gives the truck more control.

Another feature you’ll need are off-roading tires. Standard tires are often well oriented for paved surfaces, but their traction, height, and strength might not be enough for off-roading. Off-road-oriented trucks will typically come with all-terrain or off-road-oriented tires so that you don’t have to go out of your way to buy specialized tires. Skid plates are definitely important for off-roaders. They cover the differentials, radiator, fuel tank, and other important components from incurring damage while traveling off of the beaten path. Multiple skid plates should be equipped and be durable in their design, but, of course, some are better than others.

A standard 4×4 might feel bouncy while traversing the trail, but with an off-road suspension, you get a firmer, smoother ride quality. A great off-road suspension will let you travel at high rates of speed without losing its composure and getting jittery. Since heat degrades the shocks’ performance over time, the special dampers used in these suspension systems keep things cooler. Locking differentials are important to off-road vehicles since they electronically lock when you get onto rugged terrain. An electric winch can help get you out of a jam, plus a disconnecting front sway bar will prevent the tires from lifting or spinning too much.

What the Ford F-150 Raptor Has to Offer

Now let’s launch into a few core elements that you will find on the Raptor. The Raptor is a 4×4 design with a 5-Link Rear Suspension With Panhard Rod that gives the truck extra long trailing arms and 24-inch coil springs, which are the longest you can find in this segment. More torque is able to be sent to the rear wheels for a speedier acceleration and enhanced response time from the throttle. This makes for better traction, handling, and ride comfort as you go along at higher speeds. The Raptor also features sport-tuned shock absorbers (for both the front and rear of the vehicle), Fox Racing Shox with Live Valve Technology. These next-gen shocks have sensitive damping adjustability to better resist heat and offer quicker reactions to changes in terrain.

There are seven drive modes to select from: Normal, Sport, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Off-Road, Baja, and Rock Crawl. There is also an optional 4.10 front axle. A 3.5L EcoBoost High-Output V6 delivers plenty of low-end torque, putting out a power output of 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. The cooling system is outfitted with plenty of fans to keep the engine from overheating while you’re traveling the trail. The dual tailpipe exhaust is securely built into the rear, and the active valve exhaust system enhances sound quality. Also, should you desire even more power, the 5.2L supercharged V8 delivers it with a monstrous 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque.

An orange 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is shown from the front while off-road after leaving a Ford F-150 dealership.

The Raptor vs the Ram 1500 TRX

Now, let’s compare the Raptor with its top rivals, the first of which is the Ram 1500 TRX. You can only get the TRX with a 6.2L supercharged V8 engine; there is no option for a more fuel-savvy V6. The Hellcat V8 is a good engine, but the supercharger produces too much of a whining noise. However, compared to the Raptor R in particular, the TRX pales. The Raptor R’s RWD mode is crazy in the best way, plus its chassis is built for conquering any terrain. Overall, its design caters better to any road surface.

The Raptor vs the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Tacoma TRD Pro is another tough competitor in the off-road pickup segment. The Tacoma TRD Pro has some similarities to the Raptor in that it comes with 2.5-inch diameter FOX internal bypass shocks on all four corners as well as a rear five-link suspension which, as of 2022, came with coil springs instead of leaf springs. One thing you cannot currently get on the Tacoma TRD Pro that can be equipped on the Raptor is the optional Torsen limited-slip that works with the front differential. The Raptor also has more selectable drive modes than the TRD Pro.

The Raptor vs the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV Edition

The GMC Sierra 1500’s AT4X AEV Edition is oriented for off-roading and given plenty of power from its standard 6.2L naturally aspirated V8. This engine delivers 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The front has winch capabilities, and there are five boron steel skid plates equipped to help protect core components. The thing with this truck is that its ride quality is quite a bit rougher than the Raptor’s. Also, you don’t get as much outward visibility due to the chunky roof pillars and expansive hood design, a potential hazard while on or off the beaten path. The black 18-inch wheels on the AT4X AEV are decent, but you have to pay more for everything included on the AEV.

The Raptor vs the Ram 1500 Rebel

The Ram 1500 Rebel is often compared to the Raptor. It receives power from a standard 3.6L V6 engine, which is good for 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. There is an option to upgrade to a 5.7L HEMI that musters up 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, the available Hellcat 6.7L V8 engine produces a mind boggling 707 hp, but it comes at a hefty price.

What’s more, the Raptor’s cabin looks and feels more luxurious. The leather seats are cozy and well sculpted for support while the Rebel’s standard cloth seats are just okay; they might not provide as much comfort on longer trips or when rolling over rough terrain. The Rebel’s approach angles (23-inch approach angle, 27.2-inch departure angle, and a 21-inch break-over angle) are similar to the Raptor’s (30-inch approach, 23-inch departure, and 21.8-inch breakover), although the Raptor’s are slightly better.

The black interior of a 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is shown from the passenger side.

The Raptor vs the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2

The Chevy Silverado 1500’s ZR2 debuted in the spring of 2022 and focuses on tackling tougher terrain. Its Multimatic DSSV dampers help to smooth out the ride quality that is similar to what you get on the Raptor. However, the ZR2’s 3.23 rear axle ratio is not quite as aggressive as the 4.10 rear axle on the Raptor. The ZR2’s 6.2L V8 engine gets it quickly off the line, but the Raptor still has the more rapid pull-away time. The Raptor weighs more than the ZR2, but it gets so much low-end torque that it makes quick work of accelerating.

The Raptor vs the GMC Hummer EV Pickup

Despite its strange shape, the GMC Hummer EV is proving to be a powerful vehicle. Unfortunately, it is about twice the price of the Raptor, so a lot of people will not be able to afford it. This three-motor EV puts out a total of 1,000 hp and 11,500 lb-ft of torque. Its launch time is a snappy 3.0 seconds. The Hummer EV can do some waterfording, like the Raptor. Both can get through 32 inches of water, but on the Hummer EV, you have to be in Extraction Mode.

This Raptor Hunts Down Its Prey With Ease

The Ford F-150 Raptor might have been the first real contender in the off-road-oriented pickup truck world, but the segment is quickly becoming crowded with tough rivals. While there are plenty of strong contenders out there, the Raptor still holds a top spot. Not only is it one of the more affordable options, it is one of the most refined. Ford keeps upping the ante with the Raptor, so do not expect this vehicle to be surpassed by its rivals any time soon.

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