Once upon a time, Ford built a baja-ready F-150 SVT that put out 411 hp and equipped with a highly capable 4 wheel drive. That day ended with the new 2015 model of Raptor – with Ford’s renewed efforts to push the envelope on fuel efficiency rather than raw, rugged performance. Unfortunately, Ford has decided to take a hiatus from producing these lean, mean turf grinders for the sake of aforementioned efficiency.
Major Differences Between the Stock 2014 Ford F-150 and the VelociRaptor
• Engine Performance
Without shedding unnecessary tears, we’ll take a look at the last Raptor to come off the line and see where Hennessey improves it. Starting with the regular unleaded 6.2 L 380 V-8 engine, the 2014 Raptor pushes out 411 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 434 lb ft of torque at 4500.
The VelociRaptor 600 keeps the 5.0 L Super Crew V8 that initially set this light-duty vehicle apart from the pack. Giving it a super-charged boost that brings this beast to over 600 hp and stripping off non-essentials to lighten it some 700 lbs, Hennessey has taken a serious light-duty and brought it back to the pedestal it so rightly deserves.
• Suspension & Handling
However, where the Hennessey really takes off is in the improvement of Ford’s signature double wishbone suspension. While great for a variety of terrains, double wishbone certainly has its short falls. Hennessey sought to improve the suspension with after-market favorite – Fox Racing Shox. These are the same shocks used in baja-racing buggies and offer a unique independent versatility not found in the stock Raptor SVT.
• Manual Shift Controls
Not commonly found in the 2012-2014 Ford F-150 Raptor stock models, manual shift control puts more power into the driver’s hands. A brand new transmission will certainly void whatever warranty existed on the powertrain but with more horses to play with and more driver control – this may be a worthwhile sacrifice.
Full mud report and performance check? This goes into the nitty gritty about what Hennessey does for their Ford Raptor upgrades. Ultimately, whether this is a worthwhile investment in the long run is debatable unless you plan on doing a lot of off-roading competitive racing.
Is Upgrading a Factory Default Raptor Worth It?
Even with the (temporary) disappearance of the Ford Raptor for the marketplace, plenty of other trucks will surely step up to the plate in terms of performance, versatility, and raw power. The light-duty pick-up field, according to the 2015 NAIAS in Detroit, is shaping up to be one of the most competitive markets in years. Companies such as Toyota and Nissan are looking to make their light-duties much more attractive for commercial fleets while Ford is still in the running with performance focused F-250s and F-350s designed to do the heavy work while still being fun to play in.
In the mudding realm, the newer trucks really look to be narrowing down to Ford and Chevy – with Dodge taking an unfortunate backseat with their 2015 EcoDiesel Ram 1500. While great on fuel efficiency and tow capacity – Dodge has yet to come out with a sleek, aerodynamic turf grinder fit for the bog pits. This really leaves it firmly in Ford’s realm to produce an F-150 that still runs to the old Raptor spec. Will it happen? Or will companies like Hennessey be the last vestiges of American after-market engineering to get vehicles ready to tackle mud runs and baja off-roading competitions?
Silver Lining for Raptor Fans
If doling out the serious money necessary to get a Hennessey custom VelociRaptor 600 isn’t your thing – there’s good news breaking from Detroit’s 2015 North American International Auto Show. Ford plans on bringing the Raptor back in 2017 with an all new redesigned twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, improved suspension and plenty of power to spare. For reference, this is a very similar engine as is going into the new 2016 Ford GT – which has already created waves with Ford’s renewed focus on fuel efficiency and performance. As forthcoming news is relatively scattered from the press corp, it’s still uncertain why Ford decided to cut strings with the light-duty pick-up that put it back on the map however speculators are looking forward to recent engineering innovations that will decrease the Raptor’s weight while improving things such as tow capacity and payload. It’s still one of the most favored trucks for after-market modifications – as its versatile frame and chassis seem ready built to accept improved Fox suspension and shocks. Regardless of the final verdict for the upcoming 2016 vehicle line-up, one thing is certain: Ford and other manufacturers are trying to find the perfect middle ground between unbridled performance and fuel efficiency. It’s ultimately a race each driver will benefit from.