With damp sand underfoot, the Raptor R had no problem darting forward as it full-throat screamed out of the back of its open-damper exhaust. With a flick of the wheel and a heavy foot on the throttle, the truck ripped sideways through long, sandy slides only relenting when I did. Baja mode defaults to four-wheel drive, which limited the rear’s sliding but made the runs faster and easier to control, though a simple button press to 2WD turned a hooning session into a full-on riot.
Back in four-wheel drive and tackling some smaller dunes, the Raptor R was a glutton for punishment, as we crested over the side of dunes – truck surfing, if you will – and then came crashing down, running over ruts and dusty moguls with abandon onto the next play area. Silver Lake’s ever shifting terrain presented the Raptor with a myriad of challenges that it tackled with little effort. In pillowy batches of sand, the vehicle’s throttle management, along with its ample grunt, allowed it to wade through without the overwhelming concern of being beached. In other areas, the Raptor shuddered while finding grip as we climbed over hills and through trees. During which, the prevailing thought was how much work the car was doing and how, if I were in a lesser vehicle, I’d be putting myself in a multitude of bad positions.
There was also the fact that I was, frankly, indelicate with the Raptor R. When a situation called for a light touch, I brought the hammer down. If there was a smoother path, I took the rough one. As they say in off-roading “as slow as possible, as fast as necessary,” but the Raptor R encourages the opposite like your most troublemaking friend. Y’know, the fun one. Throughout it all, the Ford took its lumps and just kept on chugging along. You can break any truck if you try hard enough, but everything I threw at the Raptor R wasn’t enough to slow it down.