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2024 Ford F-150 Raptor First Drive: Keep On Keepin' On

Ford's biggest Raptor gets a few (expensive) updates

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor off-road
  • New Fox dual live-valve shocks improve off-road performance and on-road comfort.
  • A new accessory-ready modular front bumper is available.
  • Supercharged Raptor R now makes 720 horsepower.

There's no such thing as subtle when it comes to the 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor. If you want an off-roader that flies a bit more under the radar, I suggest you look elsewhere. With flared fenders at all four corners, knobby all-terrain tires wrapping beadlock wheels, a smattering of amber driving lights, and an exhaust note that you feel in your gut, the Raptor has always been a truck that garners attention.

Still, the Raptor has also always had the performance to back up its looks, and its formula has proved so successful it's spawned other Raptor models from within Ford and copycats from other automakers. Just take a look at the Bronco and Ranger Raptors or the Ram 1500 TRX, essentially a Ram version of the F-150 Raptor, fenders and all.

Ford updated the F-150 for 2024, and while the third-generation Raptor doesn't get as much love as other F-150 variants, the changes are worthwhile improvements.

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2024 Ford F-150 Raptor jump

More than just bigger tires

The entire F-150 lineup has been refreshed for 2024, from the base XL all the way up to the Raptor R. Changes include more standard features, improved tech, enhanced driver aids and updated styling. Updates to the Raptor aren't quite as extensive. The most notable changes are tied to the Raptor 37 package, a $11,470 option on top of the F-150 Raptor's $79,965 base price. While the Raptor 37 package itself isn't new, it does include a few new features for 2024.

The Raptor comes standard with 35-inch BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. Opt for the Raptor 37 package and you get 37-inch versions of the same rubber. For 2024, Raptors with 37s get new dual-valve shocks from Fox. Fox has long supplied the hardware for Ford's Raptor models going back to the original 2010 SVT Raptor, though it leaves the final tuning to Ford Performance itself. The dual-valve setup gives the suspension more flexibility both literally and figuratively. The engineers have more latitude when it comes to tuning the suspension, with the end goal being improved comfort and handling on the street and better performance off-pavement.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor grille

The Raptor 37 package also now includes a modular accessory-ready front bumper. It's a bit more friendly to installing aftermarket lights, and the thinner design provides a bit more clearance. The Raptor 37 package's beadlock wheels are still present, as are the Recaro sport seats.

The Raptor R is, thankfully, still here. But it's not cheap. It costs $31,925 more than the standard Raptor, or about as much as a base Ford Mustang. The R ditches the base Raptor's 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 for a 5.2-liter supercharged V8. The engine has been borrowed from the Shelby GT500 — the battiest production Mustang ever — and modified for truck duty. The V8 makes 720 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque. That's 20 horsepower more than last year and well up on the V6's 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. Both powertrains are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It shouldn't come as any surprise that four-wheel drive is standard.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor driving in the dirt

Hooning in the desert

Ford made no pretenses about what the Raptor was built for. Aside from transiting from staging to the trail, I spent absolutely no time on paved surfaces. The tires were aired down before I ever got in. The low pressures, combined with the new Fox shocks, provided a very pillowy ride, though I wouldn't recommend running with under-inflated tires unless you're off-roading. I was also in a Raptor R for the entirety of the drive, meaning I had all of the best bits the Raptor has to offer.

The Raptor is an extremely capable off-roader, but part of what's appealing about this truck is that it's capable of going off-road at very high speeds. Off-roading is a lot of fun, but most off-road vehicles are meant for slower-speed driving. The Raptor can drive very fast on very rough pavement. Ford had a high-speed course set up, and the first section consisted of a long straight. You could get past Montana interstate speeds before the truck would feel loose beneath you.

The steering has been revised slightly for 2024, with a bit more heft on-center, giving you a bit more confidence at those high off-road speeds. It's easy to keep the Raptor pointed straight, but it's equally easy to get it sideways if that's your intent. Ford set up a short cone S-shaped course in a dry lakebed and encouraged me to really have some fun. Turn on Baja mode — the most aggressive off-road setting — disable stability control and keep the truck in second gear. Nail the gas with a bit of angle on the wheel and you can throw up some massive clouds of dust and dirt.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor

Four-wheel drifts are fun, but it was impressive how well the Raptor transitioned from one direction to the other when under lateral load. I could flick the steering and back off the gas to shift the truck's weight and rotate the rear around with relative ease. There's tons of roll, sure, but the Raptor R's Recaros do a solid job of keeping you in place.

The Raptor will do rock crawling. The suspension and tires provide plenty of ground clearance, even with the tires aired down. Going on rocky trails in the Raptor is made easier thanks to features like forward-facing cameras and a trail crawl mode that's essentially off-road cruise control. Set a speed down to 1 mph and the truck will maintain that speed, up- or downhill. There's also a new trail turn assist mode that locks the inside rear wheel in a tight turn to effectively shorten the wheelbase and help the truck make a tighter turn.

The F-150 Raptor is a stupid, brash and a little unnecessary, but thinking of it in those terms misses the point. The F-150 Tremor does everything most people would or could ever need on or off-road, but it doesn't do so with the Raptor's style.

Edmunds says

The Raptor gets a few cool options for 2024, but not much else has changed. Sometimes it's best to just leave a good thing alone.