There are not many production vehicles in the world that can withstand, of all things, a jump... A stunt such as this would leave most vehicles a mangled mess but the rugged Raptor was designed by the factory a decade ago to be able to leap through the air and land tidily on all four gigantic wheels with its occupants feeling nothing more than a bit of a shudder. It has been tearing through the most challenging of terrain (thundering down muddy trails, flattening bumps, smashing through craters and splashing through massive puddles) at full speed without breaking into a sweat. Now, Ford has made this hardcore F-150 even tougher. How is that even possible? Read on...

To ensure there is nothing else out there quite like this, the Blue Oval has updated its tough-nut pickup for 2019 with a new set of beadlock wheels that can be deflated for maximum traction but which hold tight to the rims, a revised adaptive suspension system to help the extremely capable Fox shocks to match their aggressiveness to the terrain, and deeply bolstered Recaro seats with suede inserts to hold you in place when the going gets rough.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Our tester came with all sorts of goodies including 10-way power front seats, leather upholstery, power adjustable pedals, a power sliding rear window, a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera, and LED side-mirror spotlights Add a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system and the term ‘fully loaded’ sure applies here however, the Sync 3 infotainment system is good but not great (the graphics and response times could be better) and a wireless phone charger would have been a welcome addition. Let’s not forget that it is a very comfortable vehicle and a massive one at that (getting in would be near impossible without the running boards...) and judging by its flared haunches, that gaping grille and a clear sense of purpose projected by its squat stance, it clearly means business — and its drivetrain and chassis back this up. With a ludicrous 13in of suspension travel at the front and 13.9in at the back, the Raptor can soak up colossal bumps (and yes, jumps) with ease. Thanks to Live Valve Technology, the Fox racing shocks automatically adjust to the terrain; the previous truck was a little soft on the pavement, not anymore. Its 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 pumps out 450 horsepower and a 691Nm of torque to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic and is never found wanting, in fact, it can do 0-100kph in just 5.2 seconds. This is a huge truck that you’ll drive like a sportscar. Indeed, its handling is unique; it feels like it sits miles off the ground and sure it rolls in the corners too — but it never comes across as sloppy (anyway, its AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Curve Control safety systems have you covered just in case). This 2019 model has a two-speed transfer case, seven Terrain Management modes and a new Trail Control system — which is basically cruise control when off-roading. As an added bonus, it doubles up as a well-mannered machine when you are not obliterating an off-road course. You could even collect the kids from school (if they’re not scared off by this monster).

Sure, you can buy brilliant trucks with a Ram or Chevy badge on them but for high-octane thrills, you need a Raptor. It is hilarious, delightful and unabashedly fun in every situation and it sits in a class of one.