"We thought the longer wheelbase would degrade the off-road performance, but that's not the case," says Johnson of the SuperCrew Raptor. The SVT team specified a quicker steering ratio from the get-go, but the real key to making the Supercrew work off-road, says Johnson, has been to dial more low to mid-compression damping into the shocks. "That has speeded up the transitions," Johnson says. "The short-wheelbase truck feels nimble and a bit on edge. The long wheelbase is still nimble, but it's calmer, more relaxed. Yaw, pitch, and roll motions are slower."
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The first 20 miles or so are fast and rough. The rest of the loop is slower, and really rough. We're pounding across whoops and washouts, and the way the suspension soaks up everything the desert throws at it is truly astounding. About halfway through the loop, Johnson pulls over. It's my turn to drive. I'm not allowed to say anything about the SuperCrew itself, as it's still several months away from launch. What I can say, however, is this: After a couple miles, I can scarcely believe I can horse a rig this big this fast through country this rough. Time and again the big truck simply shrugs off impacts that should have suspension parts popping through the bodywork.
The goal is to complete each loop in about 90 minutes, and if an average of 40 mph or so sounds slow, consider that, on one section, nicknamed the Pole Line, the suspension will go from full compression to full rebound -- that's 11.4 inches of travel up front and 12.2 at the rear -- non-stop for up to eight miles, the shock pistons reaching velocities of 160 inch/second. I'm not going to drive the Pole Line -- "It's just not fun," says Johnson. So after half an hour or so of pounding the Raptor SuperCrew harder than I've ever pounded any vehicle in my life, I pull over and hand it back.