The only reason to buy an SVT Raptor is the fully-vetted changes to the suspension. There is a dizzying array of aftermarket components available for any pickup truck on the road today, but virtually none of them are up to OEM quality, durability, and reliability standards. Ford managed to take all the guesswork out of the upgrade process by partnering with Fox Racing Shox to dampen the Raptor's ride. Having owned more off-road vehicles than I can remember, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to strike the right balance between ride, handling, and articulation on a vehicle that sees both pavement and dirt. To some people, the peace of mind that comes with buying a vehicle that comes with that balance right out of the box is worth the $39,000 entry price alone.
It's a good thing the suspension changes Ford made are so compelling, because there's little else here to warrant any additional cost over a base F-150. Until the 6.2-liter V-8 hits dealers next year, the Raptor doesn't really have enough power to match the suspension's capability. Yes, the 5.4-liter V-8 produces adequate power, but any owner of an SVT vehicle shouldn't have to settle for something that's just adequate.
Many people will dismiss the Raptor for being too big and irrelevant in today's market, but there are a lot of people who spend a lot of money on off-road vehicles. For proof, all you need to do is head out to Anza-Borrego State Park in California for a weekend. Ford made the right choice with an off-road SVT truck instead of another Lightning effort.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor