A while back, Ford let me borrow a 2019 F-150 Raptor for 10 whole days. I opted to take it down to Southern Utah to drive down Hole in the Rock Road: a long, flowing dirt road leading down to a big — you guessed it — hole in the rock, where you can climb down to a remote corner or Lake Powell. It’s 50 miles one-way, and 100 miles round trip. I’d been down part of it before, but never the whole way, and never in a Raptor.
The Raptor is so insane that it’s basically cheating: you’re just not supposed to be able to have this much fun in a vehicle, in real life, without risking imprisonment.
Just on dry pavement, the Raptor is more than your average full-size pickup. Its twin-turbo V6 puts out 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, enough to get it from 0-to-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while the body roll allowed by its off-road suspension only serves to dramatize everything further. Add in 50 miles of flowing, well-maintained dirt road in the middle of nowhere with no speed limit, and it’s outrageous.
There are likely few places in America that are better for testing the Raptor’s Baja mode than Hole in the Rock Road, given its width and well-maintained nature. In Baja mode, the Raptor’s transfer case is in 4-wheel drive high, its 10-speed transmission holds gears longer and shifts much more aggressively, its throttle response is quicker and the electronic components in its new "Live Valve" shock absorbers react with greater urgency. You can also change the steering between normal, comfort and sport modes, the latter of which tightens up responsiveness. In practice, it all serves to turn the Raptor into a trophy truck that also happens to have radar cruise control, ventilated seats and Sirius satellite radio.
Hammering the throttle on a long, flowy straight section of the road lets you experience the Raptor’s power and suspension in its purest form, aided by the truck’s howling engine note, which, admittedly, is augmented and pumped in through the speakers. When you come upon a slight incline or a cattle guard in this thing, you don’t slow down. You speed up and then wonder afterward if you managed to catch any air, then make a promise to yourself to put in a greater effort on your next opportunity.
The massive Fox-developed shock absorbers absorb all but the largest of bumps, allowing the Raptor to absolutely sail over washboards. Taking corners at speed in the dirt turns things up another level, as all that power and cushioning allows for some exciting oversteer, supplemented by the baja-style exhaust note. I’ve never had more fun in a vehicle.
Eventually, we made it to the actual hole in the rock. Before looking at the picture below that I took before we got out of the vehicle to hike down to Lake Powell, note that the EPA rates the Raptor at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway, and that most online accounts say to devote at least three hours to driving Hole in the Rock road in one direction.
That average mpg figure dipped down to 8.7 on the drive back. Most. Fun. Vehicle. Ever. Find a Ford F-150 for sale
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.